November 28, 2022

RIGHT-WING TREACHERY: Student debt relief in peril as Koch-backed foundation sues to stop Biden plan

KOCH'S NOT IT: Dark money-financed lawsuit blocking Biden's student debt relief tossed out

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Dark money has been revealed to be behind a recent lawsuit aimed to block student debt relief for over 43 million American borrowers. Ever since President Joe Biden announced the forgiveness of student loans for tens of millions of current and former students, the GOP has been clutching their pearls – and plotting ways to stop Biden’s loan forgiveness by using money sourced from right-wing oligarchs like the Koch family.


On Tuesday, the Koch-financed Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of Indiana resident – and attorney for PLF – Frank Garrison.

According to

 “Garrison is being represented in the case by his employer, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), which the Washington Post describes as a ‘conservative public interest law firm.’ But what you will not learn from either story is that the Pacific Legal Foundation receives extensive funding from right-wing billionaires. And this “public interest law firm” has a record of filing lawsuits that advance its donors’ economic and ideological interests.”

“Among the PLF’s major donors are entities controlled by right-wing billionaire Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries. A Popular Information review of tax filings from 2019 and 2020, the latest available, found that the Charles Koch Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute donated $2,331,550 to PLF in those two years.”

The suit alleges that Garrison — who is currently enrolled in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which allows those working in jobs representing the public’s interest to have their loans forgiven after working 10 years in lieu of payment – “will actually be worse off because of the cancellation.” Claiming the plaintiff will incur a $1000 state income tax liability under President Biden’s forgiveness plan, as opposed to the Congressionally approved PSLF program.

“Nothing about loan cancellation is lawful or appropriate,” Garrison’s suit claims.

Pacific Legal has a history of ties to right-wing groups. reported:

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“PLF also receives significant support from other foundations that share Koch’s right-wing ideology. In 2019 and 2020, PLF received $525,000 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation and $150,000 from the Harry Bradley Foundation. PLF also reportedly receives major funding from Richard Uihlein, the right-wing billionaire that owns the office supply company Uline.”

The Sarah Scaife Foundation is a known funder of the right-wing think tank, the Hudson Institute. The foundation has also contributed significantly to the David Horowitz Freedom Center – which employs known anti-muslim Robert Spencer, director of the Islamaphobic organization Jihad Watch.

“According to the Center for American Progress, the Scaife Foundations contributed a total of $10,475,000 to the Islamophobia network between 2001 and 2012,” reported.

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Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the problem with the suit is that Garrison is listed as a resident of Washington, D.C. – which doesn’t tax student debt forgiveness.

Additionally, details of the President’s plan have yet to be released.  The White House wrote on its website:

“The Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples).”

The administration has also said that participation in the debt relief program will be completely voluntary – if you don’t want the help, you can opt-out.

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“The claim is baseless for a simple reason: No one will be forced to get debt relief. Anyone who does not want debt relief can choose to opt-out,” Abdullah Hassan, White House assistant press secretary, said in a statement.

PLF sued to overturn the eviction moratorium in 2021 – Koch Industries took advantage of the pandemic real estate bust, snapping up an unprecedented number of properties across the nation – and sued the exclusive public high school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Fairfax, Virginia for its diversity and inclusion policy regarding admissions.

It’s fairly obvious at this point that the Koch-financed Pacific Legal Foundation is merely a front for billionaire oligarchs to exert control over the everyday Americans that they consider the rabble not to be trusted to govern themselves.

Only by passing a constitutional amendment to repeal and reverse the corrupting effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling will this type of pernicious influence on public policy cease. It’s time to say definitively that corporations are not people and stop the excessive control of our political system by the ultra-wealthy.

Original reporting by Judd Legum at Political Info. 

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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