Mother Indicted in College Bribery Scandal Recently Held Gillibrand Fundraiser

By Zachary Stieber

A mother accused of conspiracy to commit fraud in the nationwide college bribery scheme held a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) just days before the indictments were revealed.

Jane Buckingham, CEO, was listed as a co-host of the high-end fundraiser that was held at the home of Los Angeles FC owner Larry Berg and his wife, Allison, reported the New York Post. The fundraiser was held on March 9 and the indictments were announced three days later.

Neither Gillibrand nor Buckingham has commented on the latter’s involvement in the fundraiser.

Other co-hosts included Will Ferrell, mega-producer Shonda Rhimes, and author Samantha Ettus.

It cost $2,800 to be listed as a co-host, according to the Post.

Others indicted in the bribery scheme include actresses Lori Loughlin, best known as “Aunt Becky” in “Full House” and “Fuller House,” and Felicity Huffman, who starred in “Desperate Housewives.”

Huffman has donated thousands of dollars to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), another presidential contender, since 2016, and donated frequently to former President Barack Obama prior to his exit from office.

A number of other parents charged in the scheme also donated to politicians, including Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of a major law firm, giving tens of thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, reported the Washington Free Beacon. Caplan also donated to the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney in 2014.

According to federal officials, Buckingham was among 33 parents who paid William Singer, who owned and operated the Edge College & Career Network, known as The Key, to get her son into a college, in many cases the University of Southern California.

William "Rick" Singer
William “Rick” Singer founder of the Edge College & Career Network, departs federal court in Boston after he pleaded guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal on March 12, 2019. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

“Between approximately 2011 and February 2019, Singer allegedly conspired with dozens of parents, athletic coaches, a university athletics administrator, and others, to use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure the admission of students to colleges and universities including Yale University, Georgetown University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University, among others,” prosecutors wrote.

“Also charged for their involvement in the scheme are 33 parents and 13 coaches and associates of Singer’s businesses, including two SAT and ACT test administrators.”

Singer pleaded guilty to a slew of charges on March 12 and prosecutors said he was cooperating with the authorities.

In Buckingham’s case, officials said she donated $50,000 to The Key in exchange for Singer to arrange for an associate to take the ACT on behalf of her son.

The score on the exam was a 35 out of a possible 36.

Although she didn’t end up going through with it, Buckingham told Singer in late 2018 that she would “probably like to do the same thing with [my daughter] with her ACTs” because she is “not a great test taker.”

‘I Am Sorry’

Jack Buckingham, Jane Buckingham’s son, said that he’s regretful of what transpired.

“I have been advised not to speak on the matter at hand but what I will say is this. I know there are millions of kids out there both wealthy and less fortunate who grind their ass off just to have a shot at the college of their dreams,” Buckingham said in a statement sent to the Hollywood Reporter.

“I am upset that I was unknowingly involved in a large scheme that helps give kids who may not work as hard as others an advantage over those who truly deserve those spots.”

“For that I am sorry though I know my word does not mean much to many people at the moment. While the situation I am going through is not a pleasant one, I take comfort in the fact that this might help finally cut down on money and wealth being such a heavy factor in college admissions. Instead, I hope colleges may prioritize [looking at] an applicants’ character, intellect and other qualities over everything else,” he added.

Federal authorities said that some of the children of the parents charged were unaware of the bribes while others were aware of the scheme.