CampusReform.org reports that Cleta Mitchell, an elections attorney, examined an email promoting a campaign rally for Democratic congressional incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop (N.Y.) and former President Bill Clinton,and recommended the College Republicans group file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against both the university and Bishop’s campaign.
“They are in violation of this section of the law because they are not supposed to show favoritism under the federal campaign finance laws,” Mitchell told the “watchdog to the nation’s higher education system” run by the Leadership Institute.
According to the site, the email in question went out to the entire student body using their school-issued email addresses urging them to sign up for the event.
The biggest red-flag is that the email was “[p]aid for by the New York Democratic Committee,” according to its signature. According to Stony Brook’s College Republicans, the email also appears to violates the school’s policy against using resources to aid political candidates or causes. Specifically, a policy against the use of “IT Systems in a way that suggests University endorsement of any political candidate or ballot initiative”
The smoking gun may be a May 2014 memo from the SUNY’s General Counsel that flat out states that “[n]either the University, nor its representatives acting in an official capacity, may take or refuse any action or make any statement that aids or hinders a candidate,”
“[S]tate employees may not use State resources (including SUNY letterhead, computers, e-mail and telephones) for partisan political purposes.”
Mitchell claims that Bishop’s campaign could also be culpable for receiving an illegal contribution from the university. Bishop is in a nip-and-tuck battle with NY State Senator Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk).
Compare this “Red carpet” treatment to the account of Laura Doukas, President of the Stony Brook College Republicans when her organization hosted Zeldin in September along with Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). Let’s just say the University’s did not put nearly the same effort into this event:
In fact, Doukas told CR that her student organization faced opposition from the school while trying to host this and other events. “We didn’t receive any publicity for [the event],” Doukas told CR. “They wouldn’t give us a room because apparently it was too late of notice.”
You’ll hear more from Laura on October 30th when she joins Behind Enemy Lines to discuss the issue in depth, so tune in next Wednesday at 10 PM!