Today, in news items that sound like Mad Libs but aren’t, because this is simply the reality we inhabit now: Nearly 50 people have been charged with taking part in a nationwide college admissions cheating plot, including, uh … actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
Justice Department officials said in a press conference in Boston on Tuesday that the case is the biggest college admissions scandal they’ve ever prosecuted. In addition to Huffman and Aunt Becky, dozens of high-powered executives also allegedly took part in the scheme, paying up to $6 million to assure their children’s acceptance to competitive universities like Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, and the University of Southern California.
The operation was reportedly run by a man named Rick Singer, who created a for-profit (duh) college admissions company based in Newport Beach, California, and began around 2011. According to Justice officials, parents would pay a predetermined amount of money that would go to either bribing SAT or ACT administrators into letting them alter students’ test scores (in some cases by having someone pose as the student and take the test, in other cases by correcting the students’ answers after they finish) or, it would go to bribing college athletic coaches, who would allegedly create a fake profile of the student as an athlete, regardless of their athletic ability.
While the whole story makes me feel like I’ve taken a big, heady whiff of glue, here are some of the most bizarre details so far:
Huffman seemingly shows preferential treatment to one daughter, writes “Ruh Ro!”
According to the complaint, Huffman and her husband, William H. Macy (for reasons that remain unclear, he has not yet been charged) “made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 … to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter. Huffman later made arrangements to pursue the scheme a second time, for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so.”
Hm, is it more upsetting to find out your mother is facing federal charges for cheating to get you into college, or more upsetting to find out that your mother is facing federal charges for cheating to get your sister into college, and not you?
She also used the phrase “Ruh Ro!” in an email.
The company allegedly Photoshopped students’ faces onto athletes’ bodies.
After all that, Loughlin’s daughter apparently doesn’t even care about school in the first place.
Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team,” though neither of their two daughters participated in crew. It seems to have been sort of a waste of money, though, since one daughter, Olivia Gianulli, a beauty vlogger who goes by Olivia Jade, was criticized this summer for saying in a video that she doesn’t know “how much of school I’m gonna attend,” as Yahoo! reports.
She explained in a video that the first week of school she would be in Fiji for a shoot, and doing all this traveling for work, “but I’m gonna go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope that I can try and balance it all. But I do want the experience of like game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”
We all know she doesn’t really care about school because she had previously tweeted stuff like this:
In February of this year, she clarified her stance:
William H. Macy (allegedly): “–cool.”
As CUNY professor Angus Johnston notes, William H. Macy does appear to have been involved, appearing in the transcripts with Huffman as “SPOUSE.” Johnston added in another tweet, “And on the subject of why Macy wasn’t indicted, it appears that the prosecutors only have evidence of his involvement in the scheme regarding his and Huffman’s second daughter, and they didn’t actually pull the trigger on the SAT-fixing for her.”
This mom owning her kid’s handwriting
In order for a bribed proctor to match her son’s handwriting on his exam, marketing CEO Jane Buckingham allegedly provided a sample of her son’s writing, with the disclaimer, “He has not great writing.” She’s right.
Olivia Jade was reportedly on a USC official’s yacht when news of the allegations broke
Yes, when news of the charges broke, and as her mother, Aunt Becky, made her way from shooting a movie in Canada to L.A., TMZ reports that Olivia “I Don’t Really Care About School” Jade was in the Bahamas for spring break — on the yacht of Rick Caruso, chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees. Caruso’s 19-year-old daughter, Gianna, is Olivia Jade’s friend.
“My daughter and a group of students left for spring break prior to the government’s announcement yesterday,” Caruso told TMZ. “Once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interests to return home.”
TMZ also confirmed: “Olivia is off the yacht.”
One kid defended his parents’ involvement in the cheating scandal while smoking a fat blunt
Malcolm Abbott, a “rapper” who goes by “Billa,” defended his parents for allegedly paying $125,000 to inflate his sister’s SAT and ACT scores, while also smoking a huge blunt outside their Fifth Avenue apartment, and promoting his new CD.
“They’re blowing this whole thing out of proportion. I believe everyone has a right to go to college, man,” he told the New York Post.
He added: “Check out my CD, Cheese and Crackers.”
We will continue to update this post as more details emerge.