Friday May 06, 2011 | 09:25 AM

The husband of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, former Maine Gov. John McKernan, is the chairman of a large for-profit college company being sued by the Department of Justice for allegedly improperly paying recruiters based on how many students they sign up to enroll.

The lawsuit is gaining attention in Washington as Snowe prepares to run for a fourth-term in the Senate next year.
The Justice Department joined a whistleblower lawsuit, filed by former employees of Education Management Corp., that also includes 11 states and the District of Columbia, though not the state of Maine. The company does not have a location in Maine.
Snowe’s office did not respond when asked for comment by Politico, which today ran a story on the matter. Education Management spokeswoman provided Politico with a statement on behalf of McKernan calling the lawsuit “unwarranted and without merit. The company denies any allegation of misconduct and plans to present a vigorous defense against this action,” Muller said.
Education Management says on its web site that it has 104 locations in 31 states and Canada. It is headquartered in Pittsburgh, employs 19,000 faculty and staff and had more than 158,300 students as of October 2010, the company says.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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