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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Liberty University and a "Think Tank"

Maggie Severns reports on Liberty Univesity's overt partisanship and its establishment of the Falkirk Center, a "think tank" that has not produced academic studies but instead puts out podcasts, social media and live events. Falkirk also does online advertising. 
The think tank — called the Falkirk Center, a portmanteau of Falwell’s name and that of GOP activist Charlie Kirk, who co-founded it — purchased campaign-season ads on Facebook, at least $50,000's worth of which were designated by the network as political ads, that promoted ... Republican candidates by name.
Liberty’s actions, detailed for the first time by POLITICO, suggest the university is pushing the boundaries of its status as a nonprofit organization under Section 501c(3) of the federal tax code, which forbids spending money on political campaigns. Liberty’s actions also go well beyond the traditional role of a university as a politically neutral institution of higher learning.

“The apparatus of the university has turned more and more towards political ends and concerns,” said Marybeth Baggett, a Liberty graduate who taught at the school from 2003 until this past spring. “Obviously the school is conservative, yes. But I don’t feel like it was ever so agenda-driven as it was in the last four of five years.”

Falwell resigned from his post in August, in the wake of a series of reports about his and his wife’s personal lives and use of university funds on businesses associated with friends and family members. Now, Liberty’s board of trustees appears torn over his use of Liberty resources for political activities.


"The Falkirk Center, to me, represents everything that was wrong with Liberty when Jerry [Falwell] was there,” said Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Liberty for 21 years who left at the end of last school year. “It's brazenly partisan."