Katie Porter’s Special Interest in University Housing Raises Concerns

Porter has not been a professor for more than three years, and questions are rising as to how Porter will explain her continued use of faculty housing.

Rep. Katie Porter, D-CA prides herself on being a transparent representative for the people of California. An Iowa native, Porter has lived a number of years in Orange County, specifically in the city of Irvine where she actively taught law at the University of Irvine.

It is this position as a Law Professor that enabled her to move into the much sought after University Hills housing in a county where homes are valued upwards of $1m. But while Porter maintains this residence, the Associated Press reported that she has not set foot in a classroom at the university, as a professor, for more than three years.

According to the Irvine Campus Housing Authority, “University Hills was created as an academic community in residence to provide affordable housing to eligible full-time employees.”

Tom Vasich, Senior Director of Communications & Media Relations at UC Irvine, indicated that faculty on unpaid approved leave are considered UCI employees and can continue to live at University Hills. However, the housing authority says faculty cannot be both “full time” and “on leave” at the same time. Vasich is not a member of the housing authority.

In any case, Porter’s sponsorship to the housing program was defined in the school’s letter with the expectation that she would serve as a Law Professor, teach two classes, be available to mentor students and hold office hours.

According to Porter, she has followed all the applicable policies of the University, as well as all applicable state and federal law. But the question is not one of whether she has submitted correct paperwork but one of what is fair and justified. Can Porter say that living in university housing that apparently has a long waitlist, while her current professional life has nothing to do with the University, is ok?

Aside from her congressional salary of $174,000 annually, Porter’s net worth is said to approach $2 million. Her housing deal could be one of convenience rather than need. Her home is close to two major beaches, its walking distance to entertainment, shopping, and the like, and offers great amenities. Housing there is also a fraction of the cost of real estate in that area.

Porter is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which works to promote affordable home ownership; a past consumer protection attorney with claims of advocating for families with financial instability; and the founder of the Truth to Power PAC which hopes to champion public service, and fight for people, not special interest.

No doubt the spotlight she’s now come under for her continued use of the university housing program, will only get brighter as elections approach.

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