The Latest: Houston area backs $2.5B flood-control bond

HOUSTON — The Latest on Houston area election for issuance of flood-control bonds (all times local):


10:40 p.m.


Houston-area voters have marked the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey coming ashore by approving the issuance of $2.5 billion in bonds that will fund critical flood-control projects.


With nearly all precincts reporting late Saturday, about 85 per cent of voters approved the referendum. The measure will fund projects that may include buyouts of homes in flood-prone areas, the expansion of local bayous and the construction of additional stormwater detention basins.


Harvey killed 68 people and caused an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas. Thirty-six of those killed were in the low-lying Houston area, where decades of unchecked development and days of torrential rainfall contributed to the flooding of more than 150,000 homes and 300,000 vehicles.


Locals are expected to see an average increase of $5 per year in their property taxes with the bond referendum’s approval.


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12 a.m.


Voters in Houston and its surrounding county will mark the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey coming ashore by deciding whether to approve the issuance of $2.5 billion in bonds to fund flood-control projects meant to mitigate the damage caused by future storms.


The referendum will be held Saturday, exactly one year since Harvey made landfall as a powerful Category 4 storm.


Harvey killed 68 people and caused an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas. Thirty-six of the deaths were in the low-lying Houston area, where days of torrential rainfall and decades of unchecked development contributed to the flooding of more than 150,000 homes and 300,000 vehicles.


If the referendum passes, locals would see an average increase of $5 per year in their property taxes.

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As more immigrants wear monitors, effectiveness is disputed

EL PASO, Texas — Federal authorities’ shift away from separating immigrant families caught in the U.S. illegally now means that many parents and children are quickly released, only to be fitted with electronic monitoring devices — a practice which both the government and advocacy groups oppose for different reasons.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is issuing thousands of 5.5-ounce (155-gram) ankle monitors that immigrants call grilletes, or electronic shackles, spelling big profits for GEO Group, the country’s second largest private prison contractor.


Government officials say the devices are effective in getting people to show up to immigration court, but that they stop working once deportation proceedings begin. The reason, according to attorneys and people who wore the devices or helped monitor those wearing them: Some immigrants simply ditch them and disappear.


Immigrant advocates and legal experts argue, meanwhile, that the devices — which are commonly used for criminal parolees — are inappropriate and inhumane for people seeking U.S. asylum. The American Bar Association has called doing so “a form of restriction on liberty similar to detention, rather than a meaningful alternative to detention.”


Congress first established the program in 2002, though GPS monitors grew more common as deportations rose to record levels under President Barack Obama’s administration, averaging more than 385,000 annually from 2008-2012. Their use increased even more after 2014, when thousands of unaccompanied minors and families began travelling to the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for asylum, fleeing gang and drug smugglers or domestic violence in Central America.


Earlier this year, immigrant families were separated as part of a “zero tolerance” program. But President Donald Trump reversed that policy with an executive order in June, meaning reunited families are being treated like other asylum seekers. They’re usually detained for a few days, then issued ankle monitors and released to live with friends or relatives already in the U.S. as they progress through a process that can take years.


As of early July, there were nearly 84,500 active participants in ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program, or alternatives to detention — more than triple the number in November 2014. Around 45 per cent of those were issued GPS monitors, 53 per cent report by phone using biometric voice verification and 2 per cent use facial recognition apps.


ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke said immigration court attendance is strong for immigrants in intensive supervision, but that ankle monitors and other measures are “not an effective tool” after deportation orders are issued. There isn’t reliable information on the number of ankle monitor recipients who remove them and flee — especially when deportation is imminent — but experts say it’s high.


“People can just cut those things off if they want to,” said Sara Ramey, a San Antonio immigration attorney whose asylum-seeking clients are routinely assigned ankle monitors. “It doesn’t really ensure compliance.”


The most recent available data was in 2012, when a contractor’s annual report (later referenced in a 2015 Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report) showed that 17,524 people, or around 65 per cent of nearly 40,500 total participants, left the intensive supervision program that year. Of those, around a fifth were deported or granted asylum, while about 5 per cent “absconded.” The rest were arrested, violated other program rules or were no longer required to participate for unspecified reasons — which made determining the program’s true success rate impossible.


Many in the Trump administration see alternative to detention programs as undermining their larger goal of keeping immigrants in custody, which helps resolve court cases faster and leads to more deportations.


Officials wanted to keep families in detention until their cases were completed, but a federal agreement on the handling of children in government custody generally prevents youngsters from being detained longer than 20 days. In the meantime, ankle monitors and other alternatives to detention programs resulted in 2,430 people being deported from the U.S. in fiscal year 2017, Bourke said. That’s an average cost of $75,360 per deportation.


Overall spending on alternatives to detention rose to $183 million for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2017, up from $91 million in 2014, Bourke said. In the same period, the number of deportations for people in the program only increased by 273, from 2,157 to 2,430 — or only about 1 per cent of the more than 226,000 people ICE deported over the same period, Bourke said.


ICE’s average length of stay in immigration detention is about 40 days, while the average length of time for immigrants not in custody to have immigrant cases on court dockets is more than eight years. Though daily costs are lower when releasing immigrants with electronic monitoring rather than keeping them in custody, the average cost of detention is about $5,500, compared to $16,000 for someone who is released but remains under surveillance for years, the Trump administration says.


That’s a key reason why ankle monitors have been a boon to Boca Raton, Florida-based GEO Group, which in 2010 acquired Behavioral Interventions Inc. of Boulder, Colorado, for $410 million. A year earlier, Behavioral Interventions had secured ICE’s first nationwide supervision contract for immigrants in the country illegally. GEO signed an intensive supervision contract in 2014 that has been re-negotiated several times and is set to expire in November.


GEO says, under its contract, it must refer all questions to ICE.


Stock in the company, which employs David Venturella, a former ICE assistant director, and has ex-ICE chief Julie Myers Wood on its board, has outrun the larger bull market since Trump took office in January 2017.


Ankle monitors used to be most frequently issued to women with young children, but now are being increasingly affixed to all kinds of immigrants.


Sandra — who asked that her full name not be published so as not to jeopardize her asylum case — said she left La Union el Pozo Sayaxche in northern Guatemala with her 12-year-old son, Juan Carlos, on May 12. She said she fled because she faced discrimination because of her dark skin, but that she also was attacked sexually by a man who threatened to kill her if she went to the police.


The pair walked through the night and turned themselves into U.S. authorities about three weeks later. They were held in different Texas detention centres for nearly two months, then reunited and released — but not before she got an ankle monitor. They now live in New Jersey, where she’s required to meet regularly with an immigration official.


“I feel tortured,” Sandra said. “I’m not in one of those detention centres, thank God, but I still feel like I’m a prisoner.”


The devices have rechargeable batteries that often last six hours or less and must be powered at all times. Taylor Levy, legal co-ordinator at Annunciation House in El Paso, which has taken in hundreds of reunited families, said most of the immigrant adults get ankle monitors — and many complain that they give them rashes, apply painful pressure and make getting dressed difficult.


If a device’s battery dies or bangs against something, alarms are triggered and orders are barked in Spanish, usually commanding wearers to call their case workers. The same holds when a monitor registers a geolocation outside the area to which a wearer is restricted. Immigrants issued ankle monitors also usually must stay home on assigned days for unannounced visits, or are required to check in personally with case workers.


A visit to a low-slung office building near Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport found nearly 70 people — almost all women — sitting in folding chairs waiting to see case workers, their ankle monitors tucked beneath pants legs. Maria, 40, showed off her monitor and bruised ankle. She said she’d fled the Honduran city of San Pedro de Sula after gang members threatened to kidnap her daughter but asked that her surname be withheld, citing concerns for her safety.


Many men with monitors “cut them loose and take off,” Maria said. “Better if I stay here and follow instructions to the end.”


Two former case workers with a GEO subsidiary, who spoke on condition that they not be named because they wanted to safeguard their chances for future government employment, said it was common for ankle monitors to be removed prematurely, and people who do so are rarely pursued. That’s consistent with the 2015 DHS inspector general’s report, which found that ICE lacked the resources to chase many who abscond.


“ICE has other priorities and most likely will not look for them,” said one of the former case workers, who worked in Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi. He said that if someone did flee, the priority was recovering their ankle monitor — not tracking down the person who abandoned it.


“We would visit their house and knock on their door,” the former case worker said, “and at most try to look for the GPS unit.”


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Bajak reported from Houston, Weissert from Austin, Texas. Associated Press reporter Astrid Galvan contributed to this report.

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Hold the Mayo! Florida town is changing its name temporarily

ORLANDO, Fla. — Mayo, Florida, is holding the mayo, at least for a few days.

The mayor of this tiny town of less than 1,500 residents is announcing Saturday that the city is switching its name to “Miracle Whip.”

But it’s a joke.

Videographers for the Kraft Heinz-owned mayonnaise-alternative want to capture the shock of residents when they hear that the name of their town is being changed to a corporate brand.

The town’s elected officials say they will let residents in on the joke after a few days, but not before street signs and the name on the water tower have been switched out.

However, an open-government advocate says the elected officials may have violated Florida’s Sunshine Law by reaching the deal with Miracle Whip behind closed doors.

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Musk says investors convinced him Tesla should stay public

DETROIT — Electric car and solar panel maker Tesla Inc. will remain on the public stock exchanges after CEO Elon Musk said Friday that investors have convinced him the company shouldn’t go private.

The eccentric and sometimes erratic CEO wrote in a late-night statement that he made the decision based on feedback from shareholders, including institutional investors, who said they have internal rules limiting how much they can sink into a private company.

Musk met with the electric car and solar panel company’s board on Thursday to tell them he thought the company should stay public and the board agreed, according to the statement.

In an Aug. 7 post on Twitter, Musk wrote that he was considering taking Tesla private. He said it would avoid the short-term pressures of reporting quarterly results. The tweet said funding had been secured for the deal, but the company later said the details still had to be worked out with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The tweet said Tesla would offer $420 per share, 23 per cent above the Aug. 6 closing price. If all the shares were bought, the deal would be worth $72 billion. But Musk later said he expected only one-third of stakeholders to agree to the buyout. Shares shot up 11 per cent the day of the tweet, but they have since pulled back, closing Friday at $322.82

The bizarre tweet, written while Musk was driving to the airport, brought an inquiry from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which reportedly is looking into whether he was trying to manipulate the share price. Short-sellers, who bet against a company’s success, complained that Musk was trying to hurt them.

In the statement, Musk said he worked with investment firms Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Silver Lake to consider all the options, and he talked to investors.

“Given the feedback I’ve received, it’s apparent that most of Tesla’s existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company,” Musk wrote in the statement.

He wrote that his belief that there was more than enough funding to take the company private “was reinforced during this process.”

In a statement Friday, six members of Tesla’s board wrote that the board has dissolved a three-member committee set up to study any possible go-private transaction.

“The board and the entire company remain focused on ensuring Tesla’s operational success, and we fully support Elon as he continues to move the company forward,” the statement said.

The SEC opened an inquiry shortly after Musk surprised investors with the tweet about going private. The agency reportedly has subpoenaed data from Tesla, indicating that a formal investigation has been opened.

The go-private deal would have ended Tesla’s eight-year history as a publicly held company. Corporate governance experts say that the contradiction between Musk’s tweet that funding had been secured and a later statement saying that the Saudis still had to do due diligence could be used to show Musk misled investors.

At least two lawsuits have been filed against Tesla on behalf of shareholders alleging Musk broke the law with his tweet.

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Houston marks Harvey anniversary with flood-control vote

HOUSTON — Voters in Houston and its surrounding county will mark Saturday’s anniversary of Hurricane Harvey coming ashore by deciding whether to approve the issuance of $2.5 billion in bonds to fund flood-control projects that might mitigate the damage caused by future storms.

Harvey, which came ashore as a powerful Category 4 storm on Aug. 25, 2017, killed 68 people and caused an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas. Thirty-six of the deaths were in the low-lying Houston area, where days of torrential rainfall and decades of unchecked development contributed to the flooding of more than 150,000 homes and 300,000 vehicles.

The bond referendum would help pay for projects to be chosen from a list of more than 230 proposals that include home buyouts, the construction of additional stormwater detention basins and the expansion of area bayous, among other options. Officials say the bond money would help supplement federal funds earmarked for flood mitigation after Harvey.

If the referendum passes, taxpayers in Harris County, which includes Houston, would see an average increase of $5 per year in their property taxes.

Republican Ed Emmett, the county’s top elected official, repeated one mantra following Harvey’s destruction: flood control and mitigation is now “job one.” Emmett has championed the bond measure, pointing to the piles of ruined furniture, appliances, clothing and keepsakes that lined Houston streets for months after Harvey’s floodwaters retreated.

“I go back to those piles of debris. You realize those really aren’t piles of debris, those are people’s lives on the curb. We want to make sure that never, never, never happens again,” Emmett said.

Houston, which is barely above sea level, has long been susceptible to flooding. A web of bayous and other watersheds that can overflow during heavy rainfall snake their way through Harris County. Flood maps show that more than 25 per cent of Harris County is in the 100-year flood plain and more than 33 per cent of the county is in the 500-year flood plain. Structures in a 100-year flood plain have a 1 per cent chance of flooding in any given year, while those in a 500-year flood plain have a 0.2 per cent chance of flooding during any year. The Houston area has had three 500-year flood events since 2015. Many of the Houston area homes damaged during Harvey were not in designated flood plains.

The flooding from Harvey and damaging storms in the two preceding years has galvanized efforts to make the Houston area more resilient to future floods.

Since Harvey, the city and the county have approved rules requiring new homes and other buildings constructed in flood plains to be built higher off the ground to avoid flooding.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said things like the bond referendum and the new building rules show that the area is serious about better protecting itself.

“As we develop going forward, we’re going to have to do things differently,” Turner said.

The bond referendum has received bipartisan support and has been endorsed by business and labour groups as well as religious and community advocacy organizations.

However, there are some community concerns about transparency and how the money would be used.

Keith Downey, president of the Kashmere Gardens Super Neighborhood, a local community group, said he would have liked more information about how some of the projects will benefit the city’s low-income neighbourhoods, many of which flooded during Harvey and have a history of repeated flooding.

“There are more questions than we have answers,” Downey said as he stood next to Hunting Bayou, one of the waterways that swamped low-income neighbourhoods during Harvey.

Officials have said they’ve been transparent about the bond proposal, holding 23 community meetings this summer to gather public input and ideas.

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Lebanese economy hammered by political crisis, debt

BEIRUT — Ahmad Harb opened his perfume shop on the main street of Beirut’s commercial Hamra district 35 years ago, and his business has weathered security and political crises in this volatile country, including a civil war.

He says this year has been the worst he’s seen: sales dropped by 90 per cent and after the landlord raised the rent, he was finally forced to close the shop and move to a smaller, less expensive location nearby.

“There is no business. Nothing works in this country, everything is very expensive,” Harb said, standing woefully outside his now shuttered shop.

Nearly four months after Lebanon held its first general elections in nine years, politicians are still squabbling over the formation of a new government amid uncertainty over a long stagnating economy, struggling businesses and concerns over the currency.

Years of regional turmoil — worsened by an influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees since 2011 — are catching up with the tiny, corruption-plagued Arab country. Lebanon has the third highest debt rate in the world, currently standing at about $81 billion, or 152 per cent of the gross domestic product. In the absence of a new government, Lebanon has been unable to access billions of dollars pledged by foreign donors for foreign investment in infrastructure and other projects.

Meanwhile, many businesses are closing, some companies are laying off employees and even Lebanese living in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region have seen a drop in their business and income due to a drop in oil prices, translating into a decrease in remittances.

Amid this tight situation, many Lebanese who have cash are now spending less, fearing for the future. Residents complain they have to pay double for everything including private generators to deal with chronic electricity cuts and water trucks to cope with the dry summer months. Adding to the downward spin, the government earlier this year stopped awarding long-term housing loans with low interest rates because high demand has depleted money available.

Hardly a day passes without politicians warning that the worst is yet to come, raising fears among residents that the Lebanese pound, pegged at 1,500 to a dollar for the past two decades, might lose some of its value.

Harb wonders where he will get the money next month when his children return to school.

“The country is heading toward bankruptcy,” he said, referring to shops that have already closed down in Hamra Street, one of the top shopping districts in Beirut.

On a walk through downtown Beirut in August, when restaurants would normally be packed with expatriates and tourists, the depression is easy to spot. Some restaurants have closed while others offer 30 per cent discounts. Some shops are offering up to 70 per cent off.

Maamoun Sharaf, owner of a money exchange shop, said the delays in forming the Cabinet have had bad effects, but the situation had been bad even before that.

“This year the economy did not do well. Even our business dropped by 50 per cent,” he said.

Political disagreements have led to a delay in the implementation of loans and grants pledged at the CEDRE economic conference in Paris held in April. International donors pledged $11 billion for Lebanon but the donors sought to ensure the money is well spent in the corruption-plagued country.

Despite the crisis, the state last year approved a salary scale for civil servants that will cost an extra $800 million annually. The government imposed new taxes to fund the new salary structure, increasing the burden on a population that has already been suffering under high taxes with no return in the form of stable services such as water and electricity. Indeed, daily electric outages are a common occurrence.

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has repeatedly released statements assuring people that the currency is stable.

Some Lebanese banks have been raising interest rates on the local currency for clients who agree to change U.S. dollars to Lebanese pounds and put them in blocked accounts for a specific period of time. The move is backed by the Central Bank, which has been boosting its foreign currency reserves.

“There is a government paralysis in Lebanon but right now the Lebanese pound is safe. The Central Bank is trying to have dollars to boost its reserves in case of any economic crisis,” said economist Kamel Wazne.

He acknowledges, however, that the economy “is not well” and warns that state institutions and financial policies cannot be activated in the absence of a government.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who has lobbied Western governments for assistance, is bogged down with the details of forming a government and divisions among politicians over whether Lebanon should resume normal contacts with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

Hariri’s pro-Syria opponents have been pressuring him, saying normal contact should be resumed to help boost exports from Lebanon through the Naseeb border crossing with Jordan, which was recaptured by Syrian troops from rebels in July. Hariri is a harsh critic of Assad and is against having normal relations with the Syrian president.

“The international community stood by Lebanon and what is needed now is for Lebanon to stand by Lebanon and to form a Cabinet quickly, because this delay negatively affects the economy,” said Wazne, who also referred to the debt that is expected to grow in 2018 by $5 billion due to a huge budget deficit.

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Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

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For-profit colleges have allies now, but complaints persist

WASHINGTON — A lawsuit against Ashford University describes an admissions office with a cutthroat sales culture more akin to a used-car lot than a place of higher learning, peddling “false promises and faulty information” to lure students eligible for federal financial aid.

Sound familiar? The allegations in the lawsuit filed by California’s attorney general are strikingly similar to past complaints against now-defunct for-profit chains that spurred sweeping regulation by the Obama administration. And they’re being echoed today in other lawsuits, complaints and ongoing government scrutiny of for-profits even as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos engineers her own seismic shift in the regulatory landscape that stands to benefit the multibillion-dollar industry.

The changes, according to DeVos’ critics, will weaken protections for students who claimed they were defrauded by their schools.

Education Department documents obtained by The Associated Press through an open-records records request show that students filed nearly 24,000 federal fraud complaints between President Donald Trump’s Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration and April 30 this year, almost entirely against for-profit colleges. More than 3,600 were lodged against DeVry University, while the University of Phoenix drew 1,100.

Separately, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the University of Phoenix chain for possible deceptive or unfair business practices, a probe that began under the Obama administration.

And the Department of Veterans Affairs is in an extraordinary dispute with Ashford over the school’s eligibility to receive federal GI Bill funding, which many military veterans use to pay tuition. The outcome could have major implications for Ashford if it’s cut off from that funding.

But DeVos’ about-face from Obama administration regulation could amount to a lifeline for many for-profit schools already wrestling with image problems, sliding enrollments and growing competition, even in online education.

Schools like the non-profit Western Governors University, for example, have seen enrolment soar as they offer online programs with tuition as low as $6,500 a year. Meanwhile, at DeVry, which charges more than twice as much, enrolment has fallen by nearly 20 per cent in the last year, according to its federal Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Among most four-year, for-profit colleges, enrolment fell this spring by nearly 7 per cent from the year before, to about 925,500 , according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. It continued a downward slide that began in 2010 as the U.S. economy began to improve, steering adult students back to the workplace.

Most for-profit colleges opposed the Obama administration’s industry crackdown but have eased up on lobbying since Trump brought his business-friendly approach to the White House. Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry’s largest trade group, said for-profits have generally received a warm reception from Trump officials.

“That’s been a very different attitude toward us,” he said. “During the Obama administration, they declared war on our sector. We were fighting for survival.”

The Education Department proposed earlier this month to revoke a 2014 regulation that sought to cut federal funding to for-profit college programs that left graduates with high ratios of debt compared to their incomes. Late last month, the department outlined a plan to weaken another Obama-era rule that would have made it easier for students defrauded by schools to get their loans erased.

Both rules were created after thousands of students brought complaints of fraud against the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute chains. The schools had been accused of lying about their job placement rates, using high-pressure recruiting tactics and other unethical behaviour.

Although both chains collapsed under pressure from the Obama administration, the complaints haven’t stopped under Trump. Roughly half the 23,970 federal fraud complaints made since Trump’s inauguration were against Corinthian and ITT.

DeVos’ department said its approach will better shield students from misconduct while protecting for-profit colleges from false accusations and from being targeted because of their tax status. Gunderson’s group applauded the changes, but student advocacy organizations and a coalition of attorneys general from 16 states and the District of Columbia criticized DeVos for prioritizing schools over students.

“For-profit colleges are the big winners,” said Debbie Cochrane, vice-president of The Institute for College Access and Success. “The department is much more receptive to their message.”

With allies instead of adversaries in the executive branch, lobbying by for-profit schools is expected to dip this year. The total — modest when compared to other industries — has averaged about $5.6 million since 2015, according to the political-money website Open Secrets.

Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, shows no signs of backing off, however. Apollo Education led all organizations in lobbying spending, with $1.2 million in 2017, and is on track to match that amount in 2018. Apollo Education also donated $25,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Meanwhile, complaints against the schools continue.

In California, Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s lawsuit alleges that Ashford “employed an army of sales representatives who worked in boiler-room conditions” to pursue prospective students and hit enrolment targets. The lawsuit also stresses how important federal financial aid is to Ashford’s bottom line: From 2009 to 2016, government-backed loans accounted for 80.9 to 86.8 per cent of the school’s revenue.

Admissions counsellors also misinformed candidates about their ability to obtain financial aid, according to the lawsuit. In one repeated tactic, the lawsuit said, counsellors told potential students they could use their financial aid money for noneducational expenses, “even though federal law prohibits this conduct.”

Bridgepoint Education, Ashford’s owner, declined to comment on the case. But attorneys for the company said in a January filing that Becerra’s case is based almost entirely on “unattributed quotes regarding undated or stale misconduct.” There also is no allegation of current wrongdoing by Ashford employees, they said.

The school’s legal battle with the VA could jeopardize its funding from the department — a sum that topped $30 million last year.

To be eligible for VA funding, schools have to get their states to vouch for the quality of their programs. Although Ashford has that approval in Arizona and Iowa, the VA ordered it last year to apply in California, where its headquarters are located, because the chain had moved most of its programs online. Officials in California say they received an application from Ashford early this year but determined it was incomplete.

A VA spokesman says Ashford is still out of compliance, but the chain is disputing that in federal court. According to Ashford’s lawyers, the VA never formally adopted the rule it’s trying to enforce. The case has yet to be decided.

The FTC has been investigating the University of Phoenix since at least 2015 for possible deceptive or unfair business practices. The commission’s probes are nonpublic and can last years. Apollo Education said in an SEC filing in January 2016 that investigators had asked for information on a “broad spectrum” of matters, including marketing, enrolment, financial aid, tuition and military recruitment.

Apollo Education and the University of Phoenix did not respond to requests for comment. FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan said the commission had no comment on the investigation.

The University of Phoenix also has come under repeated scrutiny for its handling of U.S. military veterans.

Over the past decade, the University of Phoenix has received nearly $830 million in GI Bill funding, more than any other school, according to data from the VA. It has also been the subject of 574 student complaints to the department, more than twice as many as the next school, DeVry. That figure includes only complaints that have been resolved.

The University of Phoenix’s troubles came to a head in 2015 when the Defence Department briefly barred Apollo from enrolling new veteran students after finding that the company had sponsored events on military bases without proper approval. The company quickly told the department it had taken “corrective action,” and the ban was lifted.

But a group that represents veterans said the problems persist.

“We continue to receive complaints from veterans that University of Phoenix recruiters lied to them about key elements of the college, including the true cost, the number of credits needed to graduate, whether the credits would be recognized by other colleges, and their job prospects,” said Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success.

Adtalem Global Education late last year announced a deal to unload DeVry University by transferring ownership of the struggling school at no cost to a small for-profit education company in California. The move came a year after DeVry agreed to a $100 million settlement to resolve an FTC lawsuit alleging the school misled students through deceptive ads.

The settlement opened the door for former DeVry students to sue the school. In Texas, nearly 100 DeVry graduates are party to two lawsuits filed in federal court this year that alleged they did not find jobs in their fields of study within six months of graduating as the chain had advertised.

The lawsuit also declared as false DeVry’s representations that its graduates would earn more money than graduates with bachelor’s degree from other schools.

Adtalem and DeVry did not respond to requests for comment. Attorneys for DeVry countered the lawsuits by saying the “threadbare recitals” of the former students fail to explain how their perceived damages were caused by any of the school’s alleged representations.

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