University of California Regent Richard Blum, the husband of Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), wrote an “inappropriate letter” to get an applicant into UC Berkeley, the latest development in a college admissions scandal that exposed how the wealthy and connected get into elite colleges.
Blum is a member of the Board of Regents, the governing body of the University of California system, which includes schools like UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC San Diego and UC Irvine.
According to a state audit released this week, a regent, later identified as Blum, wrote a letter to UC Berkeley’s chancellor advocating for a student on the waitlist, which “likely influenced” the decision to eventually admit the applicant, who only had a 26% of being admitted based on their application ratings.
Blum’s letter violated university policy, which says regents should only submit letters of recommendations through the regular admissions process, not directly to other parties like the chancellor.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Blum said he frequently writes letters bypassing the proper admissions process for friends and family. “No one ever told me it was wrong,” he said.
Blum founded the San Francisco-based investment firm Blum Capital Partners, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes. Feinstein’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“My cousin’s brother wanted to get into Davis. They’d send me a letter and tell me why it’s a good kid, and I’ll send it on to the chancellor. Been doing it forever,” Blum told the San Francisco Chronicle. “…I’m not convinced I’ve done anything wrong. It all sounds kinda boring to me.”
The state audit released Tuesday found the UC system “unfairly” admitted 64 students based on personal connections from 2013 to 2019. The audit was launched in response to the Varsity Blues College Admissions Scandal where prosecutors so far have charged 53 people for participating in a wide-ranging scheme to get students, usually the offspring of wealthy or connected families, into elite colleges using various forms of cheating and bribery.