“It raises considerable red flags, especially due to the fact that this company was under investigation,” said Scott H. Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan investigative group.
Mr. Eitel, an Education Department lawyer under President George W. Bush, has been a stalwart critic of federal regulation of both for-profit colleges and K-12 education under the Obama administration.
A department spokesman, who requested anonymity, said Mr. Eitel is part of a “beachhead” team, paid staff members who are temporarily helping to lead federal agencies as the Trump administration gets up and running but do not require Senate confirmation.
The spokesman said Mr. Eitel would recuse himself from policy decisions or discussions related to Bridgepoint and another former employer, Career Education Corporation. While on unpaid leave from Bridgepoint, the spokesman said, Mr. Eitel has also volunteered to recuse himself from weighing in on the department’s “gainful employment” regulation, which is intended to hold career schools accountable for their job placement records and is particularly despised by the industry.
The spokesman would not comment on the prospects for a longer-term role for Mr. Eitel, who served as deputy general counsel from 2006 to 2009. Some jobs he could potentially be a candidate for, such as general counsel, would require Senate confirmation.
Mr. Eitel did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, and Bridgepoint declined to comment on his work and status at the company, citing privacy concerns.
Guidelines from the Office of Government Ethics bar federal employees from engaging in decisions directly affecting a company in which they have any financial interest.
Even former employees without direct financial ties are subject to impartiality rules when they join the government. They…