Way back in May 2019, as part of a series looking into some questionable contributions/expenditures made by California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu’s campaign, I noted that Lieu made a pair of $25,000 “charitable contributions” in 2017 and 2018 to his alma mater, Stanford University, and wondered if either of his two teenaged sons – one of whom was finishing up his sophomore year of high school – would end up being admitted to the elite school, which was also part of the “Varsity Blues” scandal. Well, guess what? Lieu’s oldest, Brennan, is now part of Stanford University’s Class of 2025, according to his Instagram profile.
The younger Lieu is, by all accounts, a smart and talented young man. He’s been active in his school’s award-winning robotics program for years, which probably was a factor in his admission. And, the fact that his father is an alum was likely a factor in the son’s admission. Some argue that $50,000 is nothing in terms of Stanford’s endowment, but those contributions were the largest expenditures made by Lieu’s campaign committee during that cycle, and on a Congressman’s salary – and as a father of two teenagers living in an expensive part of California – Lieu certainly wasn’t able to drop $50k of his own money. And, FEC rules prohibit campaign committees from making contributions that personally benefit the candidate, which calls these contributions into question.
Those aren’t the only “charitable” contributions Lieu’s campaign committee made that benefited his sons’ education. In part one of the series I reported that during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles Lieu donated a total of $12,160 to the Torrance Education Foundation, which sponsors his sons’ TorBots club, which he clearly derives a personal benefit from.
And, his campaign committee purchased tickets to The Congressional Club’s First Ladies Luncheon in 2019, which he then donated to the Torrance Education Foundation for a silent auction fundraiser – and claimed that the donation was from “Congressman Ted Lieu” and his wife, “School Board Member Betty Lieu.”
Coincidentally, Lieu and his wife were named honorary co-chairs of the event at which those tickets were auctioned.
Congratulations to the Torrance Education Foundation on their 25th Anniversary Gala last night! Betty and I were thrilled to be the Honorary Co-chairs for the event. pic.twitter.com/3v2WfiAgoy
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 5, 2019
Is the positive publicity a “personal benefit” of that contribution, therefore making it illegal? And, do Lieu’s donors know that they’re underwriting Lieu’s philanthropy and that their dollars are being used to boost his fragile ego?
We need answers.