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KFMB's Elisabeth Kimmel caught in Georgetown admission bribe

$244,000 allegedly paid to tennis coach Gordie Ernst

Liz and Greg Kimmel on Facebook
Liz and Greg Kimmel on Facebook

A former pillar of San Diego's Republican media establishment has wound up as a key figure in the nation's sprawling college admission scam in which wealthy parents allegedly forked over big money to bribe their children's way into college.

Until little more than a year ago, La Jolla's Elisabeth Kimmel, was part-owner of Midwest Television, holder of the lucrative federal broadcast licenses of the KFMB TV and radio stations acquired by her grandfather August C. Meyer, Sr. back in 1964. For decades Meyer was one of San Diego's most politically powerful men. He died at 91 in December 1991.

By 2012, Kimmel was billed as president of Midwest. "She went to work for the company in 1993 as general counsel and 'became third generation owner in 2007," per a profile posted online by the Harvard Business School Club of San Diego.

Kimmel, the writeup added, “received a BA in History with Distinction and Departmental Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from Stanford, where she currently serves on the Task Force for Undergraduate Education. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School.”

Amongst Kimmel's extensive local political involvements, she and husband Gregory Kimmel, a former San Diego Deputy District Attorney with a law degree from the University of Southern California, funneled $2000 to the ultimately-doomed 2012 mayoral campaign of then-San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio.

During DeMaio's try for the House of Representatives in 2014, Kimmel had to contend with critics who called her out for what they said was illegal electioneering and fundraising by KFMB's then-radio talk show host and fallen San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock on DeMaio's behalf.

"I would like to have a complaint put [into] KFMB's Public File. I would like to complain about Roger Hedgecock and the blatant campaigning he is doing for Carl DeMaio," wrote Brian Kyd, a supporter of another GOP candidate in the race. I think this clearly violates the journalistic and ethical standards KFMB holds."

DeMaio won a spot in the June primary but was subsequently defeated in the November general election by incumbent Democrat Scott Peters. In December 2017, the KFMB stations were sold for $325 million to Tegna, Inc.

The charges by federal prosecutors against Kimmel involve her efforts to get her daughter into Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown University by way of $275,000 obtained from the Meyer Charitable Foundation, her family-run tax-exempt non-profit that has favored causes linked to the Koch brothers.

$244,000 of the foundation’s cash, according to the allegation, was allegedly paid to Georgetown tennis coach Gordie Ernst to misrepresent her daughter’s playing record and potential to school admission officials.

"Kimmel's daughter matriculated at Georgetown in the fall of 2013 and graduated in or about May 2017," says the document. "She was not a member of the tennis team during her four years at Georgetown."

In 2017, the feds charge, Kimmel's foundation slipped $250,000 into an account run by William Rick Singer, the cheating case’s alleged mastermind who has turned cooperating witness. The money went to induce officials at the University of Southern California to admit Kimmel’s son, a recent Bishops graduate, by falsely claiming he was a champion pole-vaulter.

That resulted in at least one uncomfortable moment picked up by the feds in a wiretapped July 26, 2018, phone call between Kimmel and her husband and an unnamed participant in the conversation, per court documents.

"The only kind of glitch was, and I-- he didn't-- [my son] didn't tell me this at the time-- but yesterday when he went to meet with his advisor, he stayed after a little bit, and the-- apparently the advisor said something to the effect of, "Oh, so you're a track athlete?" And [my son] said, "No." 'Cause, so [my son] has no idea, and that's what-- the way we want to keep it."

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The glad-handing human laugh track, assures his audience, “That was funny.”
Liz and Greg Kimmel on Facebook
Liz and Greg Kimmel on Facebook

A former pillar of San Diego's Republican media establishment has wound up as a key figure in the nation's sprawling college admission scam in which wealthy parents allegedly forked over big money to bribe their children's way into college.

Until little more than a year ago, La Jolla's Elisabeth Kimmel, was part-owner of Midwest Television, holder of the lucrative federal broadcast licenses of the KFMB TV and radio stations acquired by her grandfather August C. Meyer, Sr. back in 1964. For decades Meyer was one of San Diego's most politically powerful men. He died at 91 in December 1991.

By 2012, Kimmel was billed as president of Midwest. "She went to work for the company in 1993 as general counsel and 'became third generation owner in 2007," per a profile posted online by the Harvard Business School Club of San Diego.

Kimmel, the writeup added, “received a BA in History with Distinction and Departmental Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from Stanford, where she currently serves on the Task Force for Undergraduate Education. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School.”

Amongst Kimmel's extensive local political involvements, she and husband Gregory Kimmel, a former San Diego Deputy District Attorney with a law degree from the University of Southern California, funneled $2000 to the ultimately-doomed 2012 mayoral campaign of then-San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio.

During DeMaio's try for the House of Representatives in 2014, Kimmel had to contend with critics who called her out for what they said was illegal electioneering and fundraising by KFMB's then-radio talk show host and fallen San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock on DeMaio's behalf.

"I would like to have a complaint put [into] KFMB's Public File. I would like to complain about Roger Hedgecock and the blatant campaigning he is doing for Carl DeMaio," wrote Brian Kyd, a supporter of another GOP candidate in the race. I think this clearly violates the journalistic and ethical standards KFMB holds."

DeMaio won a spot in the June primary but was subsequently defeated in the November general election by incumbent Democrat Scott Peters. In December 2017, the KFMB stations were sold for $325 million to Tegna, Inc.

The charges by federal prosecutors against Kimmel involve her efforts to get her daughter into Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown University by way of $275,000 obtained from the Meyer Charitable Foundation, her family-run tax-exempt non-profit that has favored causes linked to the Koch brothers.

$244,000 of the foundation’s cash, according to the allegation, was allegedly paid to Georgetown tennis coach Gordie Ernst to misrepresent her daughter’s playing record and potential to school admission officials.

"Kimmel's daughter matriculated at Georgetown in the fall of 2013 and graduated in or about May 2017," says the document. "She was not a member of the tennis team during her four years at Georgetown."

In 2017, the feds charge, Kimmel's foundation slipped $250,000 into an account run by William Rick Singer, the cheating case’s alleged mastermind who has turned cooperating witness. The money went to induce officials at the University of Southern California to admit Kimmel’s son, a recent Bishops graduate, by falsely claiming he was a champion pole-vaulter.

That resulted in at least one uncomfortable moment picked up by the feds in a wiretapped July 26, 2018, phone call between Kimmel and her husband and an unnamed participant in the conversation, per court documents.

"The only kind of glitch was, and I-- he didn't-- [my son] didn't tell me this at the time-- but yesterday when he went to meet with his advisor, he stayed after a little bit, and the-- apparently the advisor said something to the effect of, "Oh, so you're a track athlete?" And [my son] said, "No." 'Cause, so [my son] has no idea, and that's what-- the way we want to keep it."

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Comments
23

Any relation to Larry Kimmel?

March 13, 2019

Rich birds of a feather commit crimes together, esp. wealthy Republicans. Let's hope Kimmel does prison time. Sounds like a good episode for "Orange is the New Black."

March 13, 2019

MUCH worse are the wealthy, entitled Democrats.

March 14, 2019

This woman is, unless the worth of the stations was way off when she disposed of them, a billionaire. In fact, it seems that years ago her or their wealth was estimated at over a billion. When you have that kind of loot just laying around, putting a few hundred thousand out to get your kid admitted to some "prestige" university is pocket change. I doubt that she ever imagined, in her worst nightmare, being arrested, handcuffed and hauled before a federal magistrate for a bail hearing. She kept an ultra-low profile in town: Even the U-T didn't seem to have a stock photo of her to run in their on-line report yesterday. I don't recall ever seeing a photo of her at a social event in town.

There's a sleeper part of this story, and that's the corruption of both SAT and ACT testing. SAT has been so paranoid of its test results that it occasionally embarrasses itself. When those testing agencies respond, watch out!

One reason for the federal interest is that much of the payoff money went to/through non-profits that claimed to be educational or charitable. Hence the person making the payoff could and probably did claim a tax deduction. In addition to the other criminal charges many of them face, there's a matter of tax evasion with fines, penalties and maybe jail time accruing.

This is quite a story, and much more will be revealed in coming days, weeks and months.

March 13, 2019

The article says the stations sold for $325 million in 2017.

March 13, 2019

How do these coaches hid a bribe vary in size from $240,000 to $400,000? $244,000 of the foundation’s cash, according to the allegation, was allegedly paid to Georgetown tennis coach Gordie Ernst

March 13, 2019

The only way a student should be able to gain access to college is by taking a test. Who you are, how well you play a sport, or any other criteria should not matter. If a college has, say, 100 openings the college should accept the top 100 scores. There is no doubt that this scandal runs deeper than it appears. Corruption always starts at the top.

March 14, 2019

Didn't papa Joe Kennedy pay Harvard to get John, Bobby and Ted admitted, and make sure they graduated?

March 14, 2019

dtwat, you larned your "whataboutism" very well from your Fuhrer.

March 15, 2019

You certainly don't seem to mind using "Whataboutism" yourself, say, when you bring up Duke Cunningham when Gonzola-Fletcher's lack of moral fiber is brought up.

March 17, 2019

I have no "Fuhrer" so I have no idea what you are blathering about.

March 17, 2019

I might agree if you are talking about public schools. Private schools may not have to follow those same rules.

March 17, 2019

you would think Gordie Ernst made enough by being tennis coach for Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, and Malia Obama

March 14, 2019

I wonder how Snoop Dogg's son, and P. Diddy's son ended up at UCLA?

March 15, 2019

Snoop's kid got a full ride to play football but never did and I don't believe he stayed in school. Justin Combs also got a full ride to play football, ended up getting kicked off the team but did graduate with a bachelors degree in sociology.

March 15, 2019

A BA in Sociology is about as useless as a BA in Underwater Basket Weaving.

March 15, 2019

I know they got in...the "how" is the question. Was Snoop's son really that qualified, or did the school want a big dollar (and name brand) parent? Did Snoop make any large contributions? How about Combs? Did they deserve the entry? This is not a private school, but a very public university that should be following stricter entry rules, since it is using taxpayer dollars.

March 17, 2019

Snoop's kid was a legit player. I believe he was considered a 4star recruit and something like a top 25 WR in his recruiting class. Diidy's kid was ok, but he got in because of who his father is. That came straight from the coach's mouth.

March 17, 2019

The best education money can buy. I wonder if this scam has been employed for more than one generation? Could Elisabeth Kimmel have gotten into Harvard the same way?

March 18, 2019

I would bet that it has gone on for decades.

March 19, 2019

Elisabeth could have been a "legacy" applicant at either of the universities she attended. But, as private schools, their admission process can be whatever they want to make it. A big gift to the school often accompanies the acceptance of the kid. And some of those operations are sufficiently "transparent" to admit that money talks. Their rationale is that they always need more funds, and if a rich family is willing to buy their way in with donations it enables the university to offer admission to poor/minority applicants it would otherwise have turned away. Some undoubtedly do it that way, and others just say they do.

The situation at USC was a bit different in that she didn't make a big donation, although she could/should have done it that way. The university, according to these filings, was unaware of what was going on, and their athletic department staff and coaches were accepting payoffs, rather huge ones at that, to bend the rules.

So, to answer your question, she might have had some heavy influence used on her behalf at Harvard and Stanford and probably did.

March 19, 2019

•Alan Dershowitz. ... stated in a recent tv interview that some elite colleges no longer fail students and by being admitted one is guaranteed graduation.

March 20, 2019

I would say that is absolutely true, barring a murder charge. At Harvard College, tuition/room and board in 2019 at $67,580, if you are caught cheating on an exam as Ted Kennedy was, you are dis-enrolled for a year and then allowed to return.

March 20, 2019

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