Home>Feature Right>Central Figure in Varsity Blues College Scandal Is Prolific Political Donor

Central Figure in Varsity Blues College Scandal Is Prolific Political Donor

William McGlashan gave as generously to Dems and Social Causes as he did to USC fixer

By Ken Kurson, March 14, 2019 5:56 am

William and Marie McGlashan, seen here in a Facebook vacation photo, were prolific donors to Democratic candidates and causes.

William McGlashan, a central figure in the “Varsity Blues” scandal in which wealthy parents bribed coaches and test proctors to aid their children in getting into elite universities, was a prolific donor to Democratic and California political causes.

McGlashan, the managing partner of private-equity firm TPG Growth, lives in Mill Valley. He has been placed on administrative leave from the company and also has been suspended from the board of STX, the LA-based entertainment company he founded with Robert Simonds, the highly profitable producer of over 30 comedy films by Adam Sandler an many others. McGlashan’s photo has been removed from his page at Endeavor Global, Inc, the non profit founded by Linda Rottenberg and Peter Kellner aimed at enabling entrepreneurship around the world.

McGlashan’s photo has been removed from his page at Endeavor Global, Inc,

According to the racketeering conspiracy indictment filed by the US Attorney in Massachusetts, McGlashan paid $50,000 to Rick Singer, the operator of the corrupt firm, for a proctor to correct answers on his son’s college-entrance exam. To further ensure a spot at the University of Southern California, he was quoted a price to arrange to have his son recruited as a desired football prospect by a corrupt official at USC who was in on the scheme.

Mr. McGlashan liked the price he was hearing, $250,000: “I would do that in a heartbeat,” he told Mr. Singer.

The fact that the McGlashan boy’s school – elite Marin Academy — has no football team did not deter McGlashan or Singer. A profile including photoshopped images was created. And McGlashan observed an irony to Singer, “He does have really strong legs…Pretty funny. The way the world works these days is unbelievable.”

That’s not the only irony here.

A gregarious networker with his own elite resume — McGlashan is the product of two of the schools ensnared in the Varsity Blues mess, Yale ’86 and Stanford Business ’90—McGlashan became well-known throughout Silicon Valley for a heavy-handed focus on ethics, not a subject usually associated with venture capitalists. He detailed for the New York Times how the idea for an ethical venture fund struck him while vacationing on Richard Branson’s private island. He started the Rise Fund with Bono and Jeff Skoll, who had been eBay’s first employee, and they committed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.


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While Mr. McGlashan was focused on socially responsible investing and his son’s fictional football career, Mrs. McGlashan was hard at work affecting the way her fellow Californians live. Her biggest effort was 2012’s Proposition 37, the initiative to require labeling of genetically engineered food. Marie McGlashan contributed at least $12,500 to the Yes side, which eventually failed by a razor thin 51-49 vote.

Prolific donor to Democratic candidates and causes

Meanwhile, William McGlashan was proving as generous with political candidates as he was with corrupt exam proctors. In May 2007, he went hard for then-longshot candidate Barack Obama with a maxout donation of $2300 and doubled down in mid-October with another $2300 (donors can “double max” by designating one donation to a primary campaign and another to a general). The backing showed real political acumen, as Obama at the time was falling further behind frontrunner Hillary Clinton before turning the race around with his performance at the Drexel debate on Oct. 30. That foresight was an improvement on previous McGlashan donations to Bill Bradley and John Kerry.

In 2018, McGlashan was particularly generous, giving $1500 contributions to at least ten Congressional candidates, all Democrats. Once again, McGlashan proved himself a shrewd investor – five of those seven won tight races, defeating incumbents or winning a seat being vacated by a Republican. His wins included Sean Casten of Illinois, who defeated six-term incumbent Peter Roskam; Jared Golden, who defeated Maine’s Bruce Poliquin in their weirdo ranked voting system; and Abigail Spanberger, who triumphed in Virginia.

Mrs. McGlashan fared less well at the federal level. She joined her husband in backing Barack Obama but also maxed out with $2700 to Jessica Morse in California’s 4th District, where Tom McClintock was one of the few Golden State Republicans to withstand the Blue Wave.

Six Months ago, Barrons asked McGlashan if he was having a hard time finding enough socially responsible investments for his fund’s $2 billion. McGlashan’s reply was both glib and telling. “There has been no lack of deal flow. Entrepreneurs want to hang out with the sparkly people on the founders’ board [who] want a company aligned with their agendas.”

Having allegedly paid $300,000 to ensure his son’s ill-gotten access to an elite university, this is a man who sees the value of associating with the sparkly people.

Ken Kurson

Ken Kurson is the founder of the Globe suite of sites. He is also the founder of Green Magazine and greenmagazine.com and covered finance for Esquire magazine for almost 20 years. Ken is the author of several books, including the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Leadership.
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5 thoughts on “Central Figure in Varsity Blues College Scandal Is Prolific Political Donor

  1. This is wonderful. Please give us a profile on EVERY such narcissistic, finger-wagging “non-celeb” Californian who has been caught up in this conspiracy. Or at least provide a list? Would love to have a look at it, and see who I don’t have to worry about as much anymore, and dream that California might improve when these folks are taken down, at least a notch or two, in their undeserved influence.

    1. You said it so well. We sure would like to know all the names of these narcisstic, lying, cheating crooks .Put them ALL in jail, let’s see how they all beg for lienientcy. Don’t give it to them. The whole country should be enraged. As a hard working parent, who paid to send both my daughters to college and encouraged and supported them to work hard , which they did, I am livid. How dare these crooks pay to send their underserving children to colleges that could of gone to so many derseving young people. They devalued the degrees from these schools, possibly damaged careers from graduates, tarnished the belief that hard work and self sacrifice can pay off . There has too be more they can be charged with besides fraud, bribery, tax evasion and mail fraud…

  2. If the FBI keeps up this kind of work they just may redeem the reputation their traitorous Democrat bosses trashed.

  3. I hope all these kids and their parents get the same exact sort of treatment that Monica Lewinsky received from the press and the public. I spent years and years driving kids to tennis tournaments. I could have saved myself time and still spent $250,000. I’m just dumbfounded by all this. Kick them out of school.

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