LINCOLN — Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning came to praise a local student loan provider and bury New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo in an interview last week.
Then he slapped the company with a bill for the $1 million in settlement money from a student-loan agreement he’d earlier waived.
Bruning heaped praise on Lincoln-based student-loan aggregator Nelnet, which recently settled with Cuomo for $2 million, as part of the AG’s investigation. Nelnet is also a campaign contributor to the attorney general.
Cuomo began probing Nelnet last month for improper contact with alumni associations, LNL reported. He said Nelnet forged “questionable” agreements with 120 such groups that created “misleading” Nelnet advertising.
But Republican Bruning, currently contesting Sen. Chuck Hagel for the U.S. Senate, will have none of that. “Nelnet is an ethical, decent, honest company,” Bruning told the Omaha World-Herald. “I will never apologize for being a defender of Nelnet.”
And Bruning lashed out at Democrat Cuomo’s long-running probe into student-loan providers, saying he “never believed that the investigation was particularly useful.” He also labeled the investigation “an embarrassment,” the World-Herald reported.
Bruning is currently running a strong campaign against incumbent Hagel for U.S. Senate and raised $720,000 in the second quarter, LNL reported last month. The World-Herald reports Bruning raised $16,000 from Nelnet-related sources compared to $5,000 for Hagel.
Several days after the AG’s kind words, Bruning announced Friday that Nelnet would hand over $1 million it owed Nebraska from the student-loan settlement after all. Bruning had previously forgiven the debt when Nelnet first announced its $2 million payment to Cuomo last month.
Half the settlement will go towards funding needs-based college scholarships, while the other half will fund extra public defenders for the indigent.