MOHELA Facing More Scrutiny

1 decade 10 months 1 week ago Friday, August 10 2007 Aug 10, 2007 Friday, August 10, 2007 9:10:31 PM CDT August 10, 2007 in News
The lengthy suit was filed in Cole County circuit court. The focus is on stopping the transfer of MOHELA's assets toward college construction projects.

In a 23-page petition received today via e-mail, it is stated that two Columbia residents, both of whom are MOHELA borrowers, say MOHELA did them wrong.

The petition argues that the transfer of MOHELA's assets is "deceptive, misleading, improper and illegal." It also argues that those who benefited from MOHELA's assets will be irreparably harmed if the MOHELA assets go, again, toward Gov. Blunt's plan to put $350 million toward college construction projects.

"I've already heard there are dozens and hundreds of other MOHELA loan holders who say 'yeah we agree and we want to be a part of this,' and I think at the end of the day, you'll see that money that the governor tried to take from the students to construct buildings all over the state, be returned to the students to forgive their loans," said Sen. Chuck Graham of Columbia.

John Lichtenegger, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said MOHELA needs to be held accountable for what he calls the corporation's misdoings. He also said his clients want things done right.

"I believe, personally, and this is actually said out in the petition, that are, the capital appropriations budget in the state of Missouri should be paid for by the taxpayers of the state, not the low and middle income students," said Lichtenegger.

The Lichtenegger went on to say that his clients should have been notified about MOHELA's intentions ahead of time. He also says this lawsuit might spark other lawsuits arguing the same things.

Gov. Blunt's office responded to the lawsuit in an e-mail, saying the lawsuit "misses the point."

He says the legislature already approved of the decision to transfer some of MOHELA's assets, and that Missouri colleges support the governor's initiative.

MOHELA History

Here's a look at how we got to this point in the MOHELA saga.

In January 2006, Gov. Matt Blunt announced a plan where money for campus buildings would come from the sale of the state's student loan agency.

In February 2006, Attorney General Jay Nixon said he would file a sunshine lawsuit against the board of MOHELA. Nixon claimed the board failed to get public discussion before it voted to back the sale of loan assets.

A revised MOHELA plan in February of this year excluded buildings on the MU campus from receiving money, except for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, because of concerns over stem cell research.

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