Thursday, October 20, 2005

Snarky Argument Against Estate Tax Repeal

Up until now, the posterchild for those opposing estate tax repeal has been Paris Hilton. Now, it appears that she will have at least nominal competition from Elizabeth Paige Laurie, Wal-Mart heiress. According to
Laurie, the granddaughter of Wal-Mart co-founder Bud Walton, has returned her degree [from the University of Southern California], nearly a year after Elena Martinez told ABC's "20/20" that she had written term papers and done assignments for Laurie for three-and-a-half years.

"Paige Laurie voluntarily has surrendered her degree and returned her diploma to the university. She is not a graduate of USC," the school said in a statement dated September 30 but not widely disseminated until the school newspaper wrote about it late last week. "This concludes the university's review of the allegations concerning Ms. Laurie."

USC spokesman James Grant said Wednesday the university had no further comment. Laurie had been given a bachelor's degree by the USC Annenberg School for Communication in May 2004.

After the homework allegations surfaced last November, the University of Missouri changed the name of what was then Paige Sports Arena.

Laurie's billionaire parents, Bill and Nancy Laurie, had received naming rights in exchange for donating $25 million toward the building's construction. Nancy Laurie is Walton's daughter.
The Walton family has been prominent in the estate tax repeal movement and generous in their financial support for such groups as Grover Norquist's "American's for Tax Reform Foundation." See here.

All is not for naught, however. It appears that Ms. Laurie's expenditures actually did promote the cause of higher education:
Martinez said she dropped out of USC because she couldn't afford the tuition. She said she learned a great deal by doing Laurie's class work.

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