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New Questions Dog Sallie Mae Exec's Stock Sale

Justin Rood

A top executive at one of the nation's largest student loan organizations is facing new questions about whether he benefited from inside information from the White House in an $18 million stock transaction earlier this year.

Albert L. Lord, chairman of the major educational lender Sallie Mae, has been under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as House and Senate committees for his February sale of 400,000 shares of company stock just days before the White House released a new budget that spelled bad news for his company and other student lenders. 0525 05

The House Education and Labor Committee today released a strategy document showing Sallie Mae lobbyists intended to meet with White House budget officials in December 2006 while they were drafting their new budget plan.

The document "raises the question of what information Mr. Lord had," said House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., "when he had it, and what he did with it."

Sallie Mae spokesman Tom Joyce confirmed to the Blotter on the meeting took place, but said it was "not uncommon at all."

"We did not get any inkling whatsoever" of the White House's budget plans at the meeting, he said. "Hence the timing of Mr. Lord's stock sale was completely coincidental."

Miller appears unconvinced. In a letter to Lord dated May 23, he asked the company chairman to provide all letters, e-mails and other communication from the "development and implementation" of the lobbying strategy document.

The Sallie Mae strategy memo released by Miller Thursday lists the Democratic takeover of Congress as a "challenge" for the company. On another page, under the title, "Critical Things to Get Done by Christmas," the first action item states, "Hire...Democratic lobbyist."

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