Did Ted Lieu buy Stanford admission for son? Internet wants him investigated over $50K donation

Social media alleges university was bribed by Lieu over son's admission, account that reported news suspended fuelling controversy


                            Did Ted Lieu buy Stanford admission for son? Internet wants him investigated over $50K donation
US Rep Ted Lieu delivers remarks at the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

California Representative Ted Lieu has found himself embroiled in allegations of bribery and corruption after it emerged his son was attending Stanford University. The allegations emerge from donations Lieu made to the university between 2016 and 2018, which was highlighted as unusual at the time. In all, he reportedly donated around $50,000, which some believed was used to bribe officials to accept his son. 

At the moment, these are mere allegations and have not proven to be true. However, they are making waves since several high-profile politicians and businessmen have been embroiled in bribery scandals of late. In July, FirstEnergy agreed to cough up $230M in fines after settling a corruption scandal in Ohio. That scandal led to the arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others in 2020. 

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In December 2020, the Justice Department opened an investigation into a "bribery-for-pardon" scheme that may have involved Donald Trump. No one was named in the unsealed documents in that case, and further updates are not yet available. While Trump's name has long been associated with allegations of corruption, Lieu's hasn't. The scandal is made worse by the fact that the account reporting the donations has since been suspended by Twitter, further instigating the allegations. 

Rep. Ted Lieu addresses a rally against the Republican tax plan outside the U.S. Capitol on November 1, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 

Did Ted Lieu bribe Standford?

The allegations of bribery go back all the way to 2016. Between 2016 and 2018, Lieu's congressional campaign donated $50,146 to Stanford. At the time, Red State noted how it was unusual for Lieu to make the donation via his campaign, rather than his personal wealth. The Federal Election Commission does allow campaign funds to be donated to charities, but notes that "The amount donated to a charitable organization cannot be used for purposes that personally benefit the candidate."

"Why is Rep. Lieu suddenly giving so generously to his alma mater?" Red State asked at that time and even hinted it was for a specific purpose. "Since one of Lieu’s sons is in high school, the timing is rather curious," they wrote. In August 2021, it was confirmed Lieu's son would be attending the university. The news was confirmed by none other than Lieu's son Brennan, who updated his Instagram profile to mention "Stanford '25". That update was first noticed by the Twitter account @RealBFolks, which was suspended shortly after it made the revelation. 

The tweet that linked Lieu's donation to his son's admission, before it was suspended. (Twitter)

 

It's unclear why the account was suspended, but more than one person found it odd. It quickly led to a conspiracy theory that Lieu was behind the silencing. "Uh. This is very bizarre. The account that tweeted about @tedlieu making contributions to Stanford out of his campaign account - and Lieu’s son now attending Stanford - has been suspended," one user noted. Twitter was quick to pick up on that theory and slam the Congressman. 



 

 

'This isn't Trump's kid'

"Ted Lieu should be investigated for his Stanford donations. That is a very, very bad look," one person said. Another commented, "His poor son. Having to live with the fact that he didn’t earn his way into Stanford. My son is working on his doctorate in chemistry at Texas Tech, and teaching undergrads. He earned every bit of it on his own." One user said, "Outrageous abuse. @tedlieu should be forced to resign. Where the hell is the @latimes? @shelbygrad is in the tank for Democrats."



 



 



 

 

While the theory gained steam, other users hit back and slammed the accusations. "Stanford makes about 62M a year in donations…. You better check all of them…" one person tweeted. Another said, "You guys do know that a 50k donation wouldn't get him into Stanford right??? He'd need to donate a BUILDING!" Another joked, "This isn’t tRump’s kid; he’s capable of earning his way to Stanford."



 



 



 

 

Given that Lieu is an alma mater of Stanford, it is very likely the donation and his son's admission were independent choices, and not linked. Unless the Congressman chooses to address it, we won't know for sure. However, as many users have pointed out, $50,000 is well below the yearly tuition at Stanford, so the "bribe" would have meant little to the university. The university has an endowment of over $28b, so $50k is but mere change. It is most likely a coincidence and not a nefarious scheme. Nonetheless, the debate continues to heat up online. 

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