Small business group announces lawsuit against Biden administration over vaccine mandate

A conservative small-business advocacy group intends on suing the Biden administration over the President’s vaccine mandate for companies with a staff over 100.

President Joe Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would be requiring businesses of a certain size to mandate vaccinations among their employees. 

The Job Creators Network announced in a press release their intention to sue the administration, alongside a few small businesses it currently represents.

Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the conservative group said in a statement that the vaccine mandate was clearly “unconstitutional and a dramatic overreach of federal authority.” 

“Small businesses are already contending with a historic labor shortage and this order will add expensive new barriers to finding and keeping employees, causing significant harm at the worst possible time.” Oritz added.

“The federal government doesn’t have the power to require small businesses to carry out its de-facto national vaccine mandate.”

This lawsuit is one of many that have been filed following the President’s announcement concerning the vaccine mandate.

 



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Biden touts vaccine mandates, economic benefits of shots with business leaders

President Biden on Wednesday said “vaccine requirements work” as he promoted his COVID-19 plan in a meeting with executives from Microsoft, Disney and other large companies.

Mr. Biden said Louisiana State University imposed a mandate and saw results within weeks, lifting its vaccination rate from 63% to 81% of students. He said companies are seeing similar results.

Tyson Foods saw its vaccination rate jump from 45% to 72% less than a month after the mandate went into effect, according to the White House. United Airlines saw an increase from 59% to 79% less than a month after requiring the shots.

“The vaccine requirements work, and more companies are instituting them — even Fox News is requiring it. I am not being facetious when I say that, but it’s interesting that they’ve stepped forward and done that as well,” Mr. Biden told Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients and assembled business leaders.

Mr. Biden highlighted parts of his six-step plan to combat the coronavirus. He said federal workers and millions of health workers must get vaccinated while companies with at least 100 workers must require the shots or conduct weekly testing.

The private-sector rules are the most controversial part of Mr. Biden‘s plan and will be governed by regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Companies are waiting on OSHA to fill in the details, though they might have to wait a bit longer — even as the administration races against the fast-moving delta variant on the cusp of the colder months.

“The Labor Department is working on the emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more workers to ensure that workers are coming back and ready to be tested. It’s going to take a little bit for them to put those requirements in place under the law,” Mr. Biden told leaders.

Roughly 54% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Three-quarters of eligible Americans aged 12 and older have come forward for at least one dose, yet Mr. Biden says the quarter who have resisted are causing damage by allowing the virus to proliferate.

He said using mandates to lift the vaccination rate will pay economic dividends.

“Vaccinations will have a positive impact on employment, which means less threat of COVID, which will help people return to work,” Mr. Biden said.

The Republican National Committee warned that smaller companies could be affected by Mr. Biden‘s rules, not just Fortune 500 companies.

Biden continues to work against American small businesses and workers — from proposing crushing tax rates to an unconstitutional forced vaccine requirement,” said RNC spokeswoman Emma Vaughn. “The Biden administration either doesn’t know how small businesses operate, or they just do not care.”

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Small Business Owners Are Pessimistic About Economic Recovery, Poll Shows

Small business owners are hesitant to make additional investments due to pessimism regarding the ongoing U.S. economic recovery.

Just 29% of small business owners plan to increase investment, a decrease from 35% in the spring, according to a quarterly poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife. A fraction of those polled, just 7%, believe that the U.S. economy is in “very good” health.

“Economic momentum has cooled off this quarter as a rise in COVID-19 cases, workforce shortages, and supply chain woes led to caution among small businesses,” Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Small Business Policy Tom Sullivan said in a statement Tuesday.

In August, the economy added just 235,000 jobs, less than a third of the number economists had predicted. Some economists and business groups blamed the current labor shortage for the slow job growth while others, including President Joe Biden, pointed to the recent coronavirus surge driven by the delta variant.

Half of small business owners reported having job openings that they were unable to fill, according to a Sept. 2 survey from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Recent Department of Labor data showed that the economy had roughly 10.9 million job vacancies as of July 31. (RELATED: Fed Could Soon Lose Control Of Inflation Like In 1960s, Economic Historian Says)

“Small employers are struggling to fill open positions and find qualified workers resulting in record high levels of owners raising compensation,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said after the survey was published.

Overall, there are 5.5 million less jobs in the U.S. than there were prior to the pandemic, according to government data.

President Joe Biden speaks about his Build Back Better agenda on Aug. 12. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

In addition, indices measuring inflation have repeatedly hit multi-decade highs over the last several months. Consumer prices spiked at an annual rate of 5.3% in August, markedly higher than the Federal Reserve’s baseline 2% target rate.

“Inflation continues to surge, thanks to the Democrats’ reckless spending,” Alfredo Ortiz, president of the small business advocacy group Job Creators Network said on Tuesday. “The consequence is the ‘Biden pay cut,’ with prices rising faster than wages.”

While economic data has painted a grim picture for the economic recovery, more than half of small business owners are confident in the health of their business, the Chamber of Commerce and MetLife poll showed. Sixty-six percent of the respondents said their cash flow is good.

Still, 34% of the small business owners surveyed said revenue is currently their biggest challenge, according to the poll. The Chamber’s Small Business Index score, a measurement of small business confidence and economic conditions, is 56.6 compared to its pre-pandemic score of 71.7.

The poll surveyed about 750 small business owners between July 16-30, 2021. The margin of error was +/- 5.6 percentage points.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.



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Norquist: Democrats’ planned business taxes higher than communist China’s

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist told Just the News that the Democrats’ proposed tax increases to pay for their “behemoth” $3.5 trillion filibuster-proof social safety net spending bill would lead to Republicans taking back the House and “maybe” the Senate.

Norquist was asked if he thinks moderate House Democrats in districts that voted for former President Trump in 2020 would lose their seats if they support a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

“The dirty little secret in D.C. is there are no moderate Democrats in the House or the Senate,” Norquist said during an interview about the tax hikes Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have proposed. “There are Democrats in moderate districts. There are Democrats in swing districts. There are a couple of Democrats in trending Republican districts. They are all in trouble because they said they were going to vote one way and they have all voted to move this $3.5 trillion spending behemoth, with the massive taxes promised, forward step by step.

“Some of them might go, ‘I’m not gonna vote for the final product,'” Norquist acknowledged. But whenever the question before them was whether to keep the reconciliation bill moving forward, “they voted yes, keep going, keep going,” he said

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has said that the $3.5 trillion package will need to be reduced in order to gain support from all Senate Democrats for final passage.

Norquist predicted that there will ultimately be a massive tax and spending increase while the Democrats are in control of Congress.

“Maybe not as big as what Biden wants,” he conceded, but “there’ll be a massive spending increase; maybe not as big as what Bernie Sanders wants, but more than the American people asked for or wanted.” 

Norquist noted that past Democratic presidents saw their party lose control in Congress during their time in office.

“Under two years into Bill Clinton, he raised taxes, spent too much, lost the House, lost the Senate for six years,” he recalled. “He was a lonely president with a Republican Congress. Two years into Obama, he lost the House — 63 House seats, and six Senate seats right away. And he was a very lonely president for the last six years of his presidency, unable to initiate any successful programs or efforts because of that. Two years into Biden, we’re going to see a Republican House and probably Republican Senate as a result and begin to stop the bleeding, but it’s going to hurt.”

Norquist said that the Democrats’ proposed tax hikes to pay for “free stuff” in the reconciliation bill will hurt American workers, despite Biden and the Democrats framing them all as taxes on the wealthy. 

“This is the scene in the horror movie where the guy talks the girl into coming up to his apartment, and he pulls out the hacksaw,” he said. “And you get to understand how the rest of the movie is going to go.”

Under the Democrats’ plan, the corporate tax rate would rise to 26.5% from 21%, and the top capital gains tax rate would jump to 28.8% from 23.8%.

Norquist said the new hikes in corporate and capital gains tax rates, among others, will impact average American workers, whether directly or indirectly.

“They’re going to take the corporate rate — the tax that American companies pay — up higher than communist China’s business tax, higher than the European average,” he said. “Okay, so we will not be competitive with China when people are looking to invest, not competitive with Europe when people are looking to invest, start new firms.

He noted that more than half of American families who have a 401k or an IRA will feel the effect of the capital gains tax hikes that Biden wants passed.

“They want to raise taxes that will make the stocks inside your life savings, your 401k, your IRA, they want to make them worth less, because if you tax an income stream from something, it’s worth less,” Norquist said. “If you have a 401k, or an IRA, or a health savings account, you will be harmed directly by this. If you pay utility bills, you will be paying higher taxes. Why? Because your utility for energy or natural gas pays federal income taxes, corporate taxes, and those taxes imposed by the federal government on utilities are paid, 100%, they’re passed on to consumers.”

Norquist argued that the purpose of the reconciliation bill is to “make more people dependent on the government” and become compliant over time. 

“People who are more reliant on the government do not challenge the government when the government tells them what to do,” he said.



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Louisiana’s top business group expresses concern over Biden’s employer vaccine mandate

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is raising concerns over President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees and private sector businesses, a policy that could affect as many as 100 million Americans.

The group is Louisiana’s largest business organization, representing more than 2,000 employers. It also serves as the state chapter for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

After Biden’s announcement requiring mandatory vaccinations at businesses with 100 or more employees, LABI President and CEO Stephen Waguespack expressed legal and economic unease.

“I have been vaccinated and LABI encourages everyone to consult their doctor about doing so if they haven’t already. Improving vaccination rates is critical to our community’s health and economy,” Waguespack said. “Having said that, President Biden’s proposal to require American companies to mandate vaccinations is clearly not the role of the federal government, and OSHA has no constitutional authority, capacity or standing to enforce such an action.”

The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate plan will be enacted through a regulatory rule from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The agency is part of the U.S. Department of Labor and regularly inspects private workplaces.

The plan also includes weekly testing regimens for employees with religious, medical and other legally recognized exemptions. Each violation carries a potential $14,000 penalty, the administration said.

Waguespack cited numerous considerations, such as companies offshoring operations to retain skilled employees, the potential for predatory litigation, lost jobs and labor shortages, as well as the risks and costs associated with exorbitant fines.

“Instead of taking targeted actions to jump start our stagnant economy, the Administration and Congressional leadership continue to propose new taxes, unprecedented spending and mandates that will drive up costs and stifle economic growth,” Waguespack said. “We implore the President to reconsider this action and return to a more productive and constitutional effort to improve vaccination rates through education and access.”

Biden said Thursday unvaccinated Americans “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said. “This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you, the people you work with the people you care about, the people you love.”

Louisiana has ranked among the lowest-vaccinated states. Gov. John Bel Edwards said about 43% of vaccine eligible Louisianans are fully vaccinated.

Edwards, a Democrat, has yet to comment on the large employer vaccine mandate. His public statements and social media remain focused on Hurricane Ida recovery and COVID-19 health-related activities. A request for comment was not returned.

Louisiana’s two Republican U.S. senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, also remained silent, as has U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, a Democrat representing New Orleans.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has not commented, though she has implemented some of the most stringent coronavirus health measures in the country, such as the so-called vaccine passport system to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, pool halls, arcades and many other private businesses.

Louisiana’s GOP-dominated congressional delegation, however, has levied harsh criticisms against the president.

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the second-highest ranking House Republican, said the Biden employer mandate was “about government control.” He also cited Biden’s statement July 25, which said vaccine mandates are “not the role of government.”

“This is not about science,” Scalise said.

Louisiana Republican House representatives Clay Higgins and Mike Johnson followed suit. Higgins said the president “has zero authority to mandate vaccine compliance.” Johnson called the move a “brazen overreach.”





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DC AG Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Amazon’s First-Party Business

Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine amended his antitrust complaint against Amazon to include the company’s relationships with wholesale suppliers.

The lawsuit alleges that the tech giant’s practices with sellers raise prices for consumers: “Far from enabling consumers to obtain the best products at the lowest prices, Amazon instead causes prices across the entire online retail sales market to be artificially inflated, both for products sold on Amazon’s online retail sales platform and on its competitors’ online retail sales platforms,” the original complaint read. 

Racine said the lawsuit is all about holding Amazon accountable.

“I filed this antitrust lawsuit to stand up for consumers, hold Amazon accountable for its anti-competitive practices, and protect competition,” Racine said. “We’re continuing to do just that with this amended complaint that adds more of Amazon’s misconduct.” 

When asked about the amended complaint by CNBC, Amazon directed CNBC to the company’s previous statement on Racine’s initial lawsuit.

“The DC Attorney General has it exactly backwards — sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store,” the Amazon statement said. “Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively. The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law.”

Several Big Tech companies are currently facing an antitrust lawsuit. Forty-five states and territories have filed antitrust complaints against Google in two different lawsuits. Meanwhile, 48 states and territories have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. “These companies are extremely powerful, extremely wealthy,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a call with the Media Research Center. “Unless we start addressing this very soon, we may lose our opportunity to address some of the wrongs.”

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.



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Washington D.C. AG Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Amazon’s First-Party Business

Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine amended his antitrust complaint against Amazon to include the company’s relationships with wholesale suppliers.

The lawsuit alleges that the tech giant’s practices with sellers raise prices for consumers: “Far from enabling consumers to obtain the best products at the lowest prices, Amazon instead causes prices across the entire online retail sales market to be artificially inflated, both for products sold on Amazon’s online retail sales platform and on its competitors’ online retail sales platforms,” the original complaint read. 

Racine said the lawsuit is all about holding Amazon accountable.

“I filed this antitrust lawsuit to stand up for consumers, hold Amazon accountable for its anti-competitive practices, and protect competition,” Racine said. “We’re continuing to do just that with this amended complaint that adds more of Amazon’s misconduct.” 

When asked about the amended complaint by CNBC, Amazon directed CNBC to the company’s previous statement on Racine’s initial lawsuit.

“The DC Attorney General has it exactly backwards — sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store,” the Amazon statement said. “Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively. The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law.”

Several Big Tech companies are currently facing an antitrust lawsuit. Forty-five states and territories have filed antitrust complaints against Google in two different lawsuits. Meanwhile, 48 states and territories have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. “These companies are extremely powerful, extremely wealthy,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a call with the Media Research Center. “Unless we start addressing this very soon, we may lose our opportunity to address some of the wrongs.”

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.



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Republicans, business groups bash Biden’s employee vaccine mandate

President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to require vaccinations against COVID-19 received a strong response from Tennessee Republicans and business organizations.

One of the earliest responses came from Gov. Bill Lee.

“For a fight that requires working together, a lot of cynical and divisive edicts came out of the White House [Thursday] pitting the vaccinated against the unvaccinated, businesses against employees, and the federal government against states,” Lee tweeted. “The Constitution won’t allow this power grab, and in the meantime, I will stand up for all Tennesseans.

“To be clear: the vaccine is the best tool we have to combat the pandemic but heavy-handed mandates are the wrong approach.”

Business organizations throughout the state agreed that a plan to require vaccinations and employers to test employees for COVID-19 could be a costly requirement for the state’s business environment. The National Federation of Independent Business believes this could compound the issues businesses already are facing in finding employees.

“Small businesses face daily challenges from pandemic requirements, locating qualified workers, rampant inflation and supply chain disruptions,” Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB vice president of federal government relations. “Small business owners and their employees want to operate in a safe and healthy manner that allows them to stay open. Additional mandates, enforcement and penalties will further threaten the fragile small business recovery.”

“President Bident’s recent actions establishing significant vaccination verification and testing mandates for employers is not the right solution,” the Tennessee Chamber of Commence said in a statement. “In fact, over 76% of businesses in a recent survey by the Tennessee Chamber opposed the federal government dictating vaccination protocols to business.”

Some of Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers believed the requirement was an overreach of power by the president.

“This no longer a conversation about should I take the vaccine,” state Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, tweeted. “Does [the president] through rule or [executive order] have the Constitutional authority to force you to inject something in to your body as a condition of employment. Why do we need Congress? What will the next [executive order] or rule require of you?”

“The vast majority of of us pushing back against Biden fully understand the significant and serious threat of Covid-19,” state Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, tweeted. “However, we see the threat of a tyrant/authoritarian to be far greater to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ than a virus.”

State Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, responded on Twitter with: “Wait until the people freaking out today learn we still have the selective service system, where the government can literally muster 18-25-year-olds into military service?”





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Rolls-Royce, Babcock sell stakes in AirTanker defence business

FILE PHOTO: A Rolls-Royce logo is seen at the company’s aerospace engineering and development site in Bristol, Britain, December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

September 13, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) -British engineering companies Rolls-Royce and Babcock International Group are to sell their minority stakes in UK military refuelling jet-owner AirTanker Holdings to Equitix Investment Management as part of efforts to reduce debts.

Rolls-Royce said on Monday it agreed a 189 million pound ($261.39 million) deal with the private infrastructure investor for its 23.1% stake, while Babcock is being paid 126 million pounds for its 15.4% share.

Aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce has a 2 billion pound disposal plan aimed at repairing a balance sheet shattered by the pandemic, while Babcock is targeting 400 million pounds of asset sales, which it said it would meet when this deal completes.

AirTanker Holdings owns 14 A330 RAF Voyager jets which are used for refuelling and transportation by Britain’s Ministry of Defence. Equitix is set to join Airbus and Thales as shareholders, although both have pre-emption rights over the shares being sold.

Rolls and Babcock will continue to own a 23.5% stake each in AirTanker Services, which is the company responsible for operating the 14 jets.

The sales are subject to regulatory approvals.

($1 = 0.7231 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Jane Merriman)





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First trial of college admissions scandal begins

Two prominent businessmen used their wealth to buy their kids’ ways into top universities, a federal prosecutor told a jury Monday — kicking off the first trial in the national college-admissions cheating scandal that ensnared celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman

Gamal Abdelaziz, a former Wynn Resorts executive, and John Wilson, a private-equity investor, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to former college counselor and scheme mastermind William “Rick” Singer to try to get their kids into the University of Southern California and other schools by falsely presenting them as athletic recruits, Assistant US Attorney Leslie Wright said in opening statements in Massachusetts federal court.

Dozens of high-profile parents, athletic coaches and others have been arrested in connection with the scandal, but Abdelaziz and Wilson’s case is the first to go to trial, with many others having pleaded guilty. The notorious scheme was portrayed in the “Operation Varsity Blues” Netflix documentary.”It was a sprawling conspiracy that extended from coast to coast,” Wright told the jury. “None of these kids were getting recruited to play collegiate sports without the money.”

Former Wynn Resorts executive Gamal Abdelaziz paid Rick Singer in 2017 to get his daughter into USC as a basketball recruit.
Brian Snyder/REUTERS

But lawyers for both of the accused men claimed that their clients were played by Singer, with him duping them into breaking the law when they actually thought their donations were legitimate. 

“Giving money to a school with a hope that it gets your kid in is not a crime,” said Brian Kelly, Abdelaziz’s lawyer, to jurors.

Kelly told the jury that Singer is a “skilled con man” who is responsible for any violation of the law. 

Singer has admitted to working with parents and others to rig rich kids’ college-entrance test scores and bribe coaches at schools such as USC and Yale University as part of the scheme. He is awaiting sentencing for his role in the scam, which laid bare the stunning level of corruption in the US higher education system.

Prosecutors have alleged that Abdelaziz paid $300,000 to Singer in 2017 to get his daughter, who didn’t qualify for her high school varsity basketball team, into USC as a basketball recruit. The alleged scheme worked: His daughter was admitted. 

Bruce Isackson.
Prosecution is expected to call Bruce Isackson, a real-estate developer from Northern California and a parent in the scam who’s been cooperating with prosecutors.
Michael Dwyer/AP

Wilson similarly worked with Singer beginning in 2013 to get his son into USC as a water-polo recruit, even though the dad worried that his boy would be a “clear misfit at practice,” court documents allege. The son gained admission.

Later, in 2018, Wilson worked with the college fixer to get his twin daughters into Harvard and Stanford universities as sailing or crew recruits, although he acknowledged to Singer that his girls “would not actually have to participate,” prosecutors and court papers claim. But by then, Singer was working with federal investigators to expose the operation, and the alleged scheme failed for his daughters.

Wilson allegedly paid more than $1 million for the arrangements.

USC, for its part, has said it wasn’t aware of Singer’s scam until 2018, when it cooperated with the investigation.

US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton, who is presiding over the case, emphasized at a recent hearing that “USC is not on trial.”

On Monday, prosecutors called their first witness, Bruce Isackson, a real-estate developer from Northern California and a parent in the scam who has been cooperating with the feds.

Isackson and his wife, Davina, pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges that they worked with Singer to get their daughters into the University of California, Los Angeles, and USC as athletic recruits.

He testified that he and his wife knowingly paid Singer so that the former college counselor could bribe school officials and secure his daughter a position at USC and UCLA as a soccer recruit — even though she was not a competitive player, by his own admission.

University of Southern California.
The University of Southern California has said it wasn’t aware of Rick Singer’s scam until 2018 when it cooperated with the investigation.
Reed Saxon/AP

Prosecutors have said they don’t intend to call Singer as a witness, though they have left open the possibility. 

In notes on his phone — which are now evidence in the case — Singer also claimed that federal agents were pressuring him to lie in recorded calls with parents, painting the payments they were making as bribes instead of donations. 

The defense, if given the opportunity, may seize on those previous admissions.



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