The People’s Representative, Keiser University’s Lawyer

Well this is interesting. In further news of Florida’s storied for-profit college, Keiser University, it turns out that one state legislator may have something of a conflict of interest regarding the school. According to an article by Sally Kestin and Scott Travis in the Sun Sentinel:

Keiser University’s general counsel, Jim Waldman, …is a state representative. As a legislator, Waldman contacted state education officials, soliciting information that was of interest to his employer. As Keiser’s lawyer, he was involved in the school’s lawsuit against a Jacksonville community college, alleging a smear campaign against for-profit colleges.

Waldman, D- Coconut Creek, said he keeps his two jobs separate, but ethics experts said his actions create an impression that his primary allegiance is to Keiser. For his recent re-election, Waldman listed the university’s address on his campaign account and sometimes flies to Tallahassee for legislative business on Keiser’s jet.

There’s nothing wrong with multiple allegiances. The Florida Legislature is a part-time body; it only meets 60 days a year. Members receive an annual salary of about $30,000 and they’re expected to have other jobs. Still, the Keiser relationship does make things a little ethically complicated.

Keiser said that no one should be concerned. The company issued a statement earlier this week explaining that the legislator “has focused his career on serving the people of Florida both as a legislator and an advocate for educational opportunities. His work on both fronts has benefited both his constituents and Florida’s students.”

Tuition at Keiser is $13,256 a year. Tuition at Florida State University, in contrast, is $3,156 a year.

According to the article earlier this year, Waldman sponsored a bill that would have allowed students to use education grants funded by the state and private donors to pay for for-profit colleges. They’re now restricted to public Florida colleges.

In 2009 Waldman received $236,339 from his work for Keiser.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer