University of California Regent Richard Blum, also the husband of a prominent U.S. Senator, was named as being involved in an admissions scandal in which the University admitted dozens of students from rich families as favors to well-connected individuals.
Blum, who is Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he belives that he has done nothing wrong, and that he’s used his position to get friends and family into the elite public system for years.
As is common for the wealthy elite, Blum said that he had no idea that what he was doing was wrong. “I did it a bunch of times… No one ever told me it was wrong,” Blum said, saying that he never saw it as a problem to bypass the traditional admissions process by writing recommendation letters. The Chronicle reported that a policy prohibiting using such influence has been in effect throughout Blum’s 18-year tenure on the Board of Regents.
Blum also admitted to sending letters of recommendation for family and friends to chancellors of multiple UC campuses, including UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Irvine, since he became a regent in 2002. “Wherever they were applying. Wherever they wanted to get in,” Blum said.
Regents Chair John Pérez issued a statement on Thursday, saying that the “UC Board of Regents takes these matters very seriously, and any violations will be promptly and appropriately addressed.”
Pérez also mentioned that the ethics and audit compliance office at UC is reviewing the information “to determine whether the alleged conduct violates” the regents policy, in place since 1996.
Feinstein’s office has so far declined to comment.
According to a report released on Tuesday by the California State Auditor, among the students “inappropriately admitted” were a child of a major donor, an applicant who babysat for a colleague of a former director of admissions, and a student whose family was close friends with a Board of Regents member.
In one specific case, an audit found that a regent sent an “inappropriate letter of support” directly to the chancellor at UC Berkeley on behalf of a student with only a 26% chance of winning a spot off the wait list. The applicant was admitted. This happened despite the fact that a policy existed prohibiting efforts by regents to influence admissions decisions by circumventing the regular process.
Margarita Fernandez, the Auditor’s spokeswoman, has confirmed that Blum was the regent identified in the audit.
The audit, which was requested by State Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath last year, examined the policies and practices of admissions over the years 2013-2014, and 2018-2019, at four University of California campuses: UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Barbara.
Horvath requested the audit as a response to the recent national college admissions scandal that involved many high profile celebrities, prominent universities, athletic coaches, and other wealthy individuals, including actress Lori Loughlin.