Minnesota attorney general seeking info from Corinthian Colleges

Looks like Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is looking into the activities of Corinthian Colleges, a publicly owned, for-profit education chain based in Santa Ana, Calif.

From Corinthian’s most recent 10-K report:

On July 8, 2013, the Company received a civil investigative demand from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office (the “MN AG”) seeking information on potential issues related to financial aid, admissions, students and other areas.

The Company understands the MN AG is conducting inquiries into several other private sector colleges as well. The Company has obtained protection of its confidential and sensitive business information and is cooperating with the MN AG’s reasonable requests for information.

Swanson (Derek Montgomery for MPR)

Swanson said months ago she’s looking into the business practices of a handful of for-profit colleges. Although she hasn’t said which ones, the AG’s office is also asking questions of Woodbury-based Globe University /Minnesota School of Business.

Swanson isn’t the only one looking into Corinthian. It was one of the colleges scrutinized in last year’s Senate investigation by a committee led by Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

Now, according to the 10-K:

“… Since October 2010 the Company has been contacted by attorneys general offices in the states of Florida, California, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Each of those states’ attorneys general office has requested from the Company, either through subpoenas, civil investigative demands, or informal requests, extensive documents regarding our business.

In most of these states, we understand the attorneys general have been conducting broad inquiries into private sector education companies in their respective states, and not solely into the Company. We and other companies in the private education sector have also received civil investigative demands and subpoenas from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “CFPB”) and the SEC regarding certain aspects of our business.”

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also quit Corinthian’s board after some media outlets questioned whether he should be affiliated with the company.

The chain has three different school branches in its group: Everest, WyoTech and Heald Business College — though it appears some schools may have gone by other names in previous years.

It also has an information-technology company called QuickStart Intelligence.