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Governor Signs Assemblyman Steven Choi’s AB 251 Addressing ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ College Admissions Bribery Scandal
AB 251 (Choi) ensures campus staff involved in fundraising are prohibited from engaging in admission by exception process
SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 9, 2021 – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 251, authored by Assemblymember Steven Choi, Ph.D. (R – Irvine), which addresses the ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ admission bribery scandal by ensuring campus staff involved in fundraising are prohibited from engaging in the admission by exception process. AB 251 now goes to the Secretary of State for chaptering and the law goes into effect January 1, 2022.
“I thank the Governor for signing my AB 251, which will help eradicate bribery in our public universities’ admissions from California’s wealthy celebrity class. Two years ago, our higher education institutions were shaken by the largest college admissions scandal in the history of the United States. The scandal, dubbed ‘Operation Varsity Blues,’ involved 7 years of investigation by the FBI and resulted in the arrest of 53 people on charges of racketeering, bribery, and wire fraud in order to secure admissions at elite universities for their children. Fortunately, the California Legislature stepped in and imposed safeguards to protect the integrity of our college admissions in California—and my bill, AB 251, builds upon these efforts by banning campus administrators involved in fundraising from being involved in the ‘admission by exception’ process,” remarked Assemblymember Choi.
Admission by exception is a process through which a campus looks beyond test scores and grades to admit applicants that do not meet eligibility requirements for the institution. Unfortunately, due to the subjective nature of the admission by exception process, it has potential to unfairly admit applicants due to their familial relationships or campus contributions. AB 251 safeguards against admission by exception abuse.
Assemblyman Steven Choi serves the 68th District in the California Legislature, which includes Lake Forest, Irvine, Orange, North Tustin, Tustin, and Villa Park.