The former president of Liberty University reportedly used millions of dollars of the school’s funds to support and promote the Trump administration. Jerry Falwell Jr., who resigned from the university in August, was behind the creation of a university-funded “think tank” called the Falkirk Center that bought over $50,000 worth of political ads on Facebook in favor of Donald Trump and other GOP candidates.
In one of the ads, a photo of Trump with his hands together, as if in prayer, was displayed along with a sentimental message that reads: “Pray For Our President.” Over the summer, the Falkirk Center also ran a promotional ad for Madison Cawthorn, a North Carolina congressional candidate.
The think tank hired well-known Trump allies such as former adviser Sebastian Gorka and Trump attorney Jenna Ellis to serve as fellows while incessantly pushing election fraud claims and other pro-Trump content on social media platforms.
Board Member Reactions
Some of the university board members were not informed nor did they approve of Falwell’s actions. However, Scott Lamb, a Liberty University spokesperson, stated that the payments were green-lit by the seven-member executive board, which can act independently.
Contacts within the university’s board of trustees said that the board is conflicted with the prospect of continuing such an active role with conservative politics. The recent actions under Falwell’s term put into question the school’s status as a non-profit organization and its identity as a politically neutral academic institution.
1 Timothy 2:1–4: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all…
The law prohibits tax-exempt universities from supporting a particular party or candidate, nor are they allowed to be actively involved in elections. However, reports also mention that the school offered $2.2 million to the Faith and Freedom Coalition and donated to the conservative non-profit Citizens United, which are run by Republican consultant Ralph Reed and Trump ally David Bossie, respectively.
“The apparatus of the university has turned more and more towards political ends and concerns. 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 or five years,” Liberty alum Marybeth Baggett told Politico.
Other board members also called for the Falkirk Center to be closed as it does not produce academic output of any kind such as research, journals, or scholarships, defeating the purpose of a think tank.
Falwell has yet to respond to these reports.