California Democratic Rep. Katie Porter — a former law professor who was paid more than $285,000 one year during her time at the University of California, Irvine — earned thousands of dollars in royalty fees from law school textbooks that she required her own students to purchase for the courses she taught.
In 2017, Porter, who is now seeking re-election to the House this November, was paid $286,674 to teach two courses per semester at the institution, according to Transparent California.
Since her arrival in Washington, Porter has campaigned on making education more affordable for Americans and stated in 2020 that the American political system has "favored the wealthy and well-connected for far too long" as "powerful people live in one reality while the rest of us live in another."
For several of the courses she taught, Porter made it a requirement for her students to purchase textbooks she authored and received royalties from, according to documents obtained through a FOIA request to the UC Irvine.
During the 2017 academic school year, Porter taught a total of four courses, the school records show. During the fall 2017 semester, Porter taught LAW 523, a bankruptcy law course, and LAW 5225, a consumer law course. During the spring 2017 semester, Porter taught LAW 299, a directed research course, and LAW 5901, transition to practice.
The seventh edition of "The Law of Debtors and Creditors: Text, Cases, and Problems" a book co-authored by Porter and a few other others, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was required material for Porter’s Bankruptcy LAW 523 class in fall 2017, according to a syllabus for the course.
Another one of her works, "Modern Consumer Law," a book authored by Porter and released in 2016, was required reading material for Porter’s Consumer Law 5225 class in fall 2017, according to a syllabus for the course. Additionally, the same 2016 book from Porter was required reading material for an online class she taught in summer 2017. She did not, however, require students to purchase the book during that semester, according to the course syllabus.
Porter also taught LAW 523 during the spring semesters of 2015 and 2016 and required her students at the time to purchase the seventh addition of "The Law of Debtors and Creditors," according to her course's syllabus.
Throughout other points during her tenure at the university, Porter, who has repeatedly pushed for lower education costs, required her students to utilize her own books for courses she taught.
In 2015, Porter taught Law 5225 and required students to use "draft pages from my forthcoming book, Consumer Law," according to the course syllabus. She did not charge her students at the time for the materials required for the course.
Katie Porter earned thousands in royalty fees between 2016 and 2017 from her academic books from Wolters Kluwer, a publishing company with several legal works that were later acquired by Aspen Publishing.
Porter reported earning $7,795 in "publishing royalties" in her financial disclosure for 2018. She also reported receiving $1-$200 in royalties from Stanford University Press for an academic book she authored.
In a 2017 financial disclosure, Porter reported earning between $2,501-$5,000 in royalties from her law books. In the same disclosure, Porter also reported earning between $201-$1,000 in royalties from the Stanford University Press for a book she authored. Specific amounts for royalties Porter earned in 2016 were not disclosed in the 2017 filing.
A 2020 financial disclosure that was filed by Porter in 2021 revealed that she earned as much as $5,000 in "royalty payments from Wolters Kluwer on two academic law textbooks."
The cost of the required textbooks Porter co-authored and used in her courses have varied throughout the years. "The Law of Debtors and Creditors" cost $267 in 2019 but increased to $298 as of 2022, a nearly 12% increase. Porter's book "Modern Consumer Law" has increased in cost from $216 in 2019 to $275 in 2022, representing an estimated 23% increase.
Earlier this month, a report from the Associated Press highlighted Porter's home in Orange Beach, California, which, according to the outlet, is located in an area where homes are estimated to cost $1 million.
The progressive Democrat and law professor, who has lamented the cost of housing in her district, purchased it in 2011 for $523,000, a below-market price secured through a program the university uses to attract academics who couldn’t otherwise afford to live in the affluent area. The only eligibility requirement was that she continue working for the school.
For Porter, this version of subsidized housing has outlasted her time in the classroom, now extending nearly four years after she first took unpaid leave from her $258,000-a-year teaching job to serve in the U.S. House.
But the ties go deeper, with at least one law school administrator, who was also a donor to her campaign, helping secure extensions of her tenure while she remained in Congress, according to university emails obtained by the AP. That has allowed Porter, a rising Democratic star and fundraising powerhouse whose own net worth is valued at as much as $2 million, to retain her home even as her return to the school remains in doubt.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Porter declined to say whether her housing arrangement was appropriate. But she said she "followed the applicable (University of California) policies, as well as all applicable state and federal law."
"I am always happy to be transparent with voters," Porter said. "I take a lot of pride in my record on transparency and good governance and have been asked about this before by voters and have always been happy to give them full and complete information."
Porter has consistently championed the notion that the cost of college education is too high, writing in a 2018 tweet that the "cost of college is too high and it is threatening the future of those looking for better opportunities."
Porter has also campaigned on the issue of making "college more affordable so that every student who works hard can graduate from California's great public colleges and universities debt-free."
Porter has faces scrutiny for her housing arrangement with UC Irvine. Porter bought her home in an affluent neighborhood near the school in 2011 for $523,000 — securing a below-market price through a university program that is offered to employees of the school. Porter remains in the house, but is on indefinite unpaid leave from her teaching position in order to fulfill her duties in the U.S. House.
Porter will face off against Republican Scott Baugh in the Nov. 8 general election in California as she aims to represent the Golden State's 47th Congressional District in the House.
Fox News did not receive a response from Porter's campaign.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.