Those of us covering or listening to the Trump impeachment hearing yesterday may have missed the “other” impeachment story this week. At Gainsville, Florida, students are seeking to impeach student president Michael C. Murphy due to the invitation to Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend (and Trump campaign adviser) Kimberly Guilfoyle to campus for speeches on Oct. 10. The couple was paid $50,000 for the speeches. There are even allegations of “collusion.” Student senator Ben Lima declared that “Public records show that Michael Murphy colluded with a member of the Donald Trump campaign” on the event. However, a student newspaper is also reporting that Murphy also sought to have Bernie Sanders appear on campus.
A formal resolution of impeachment was submitted with the names of more than 100 students and alumni. The petitioners objected to the use of the student activity fees for what was deemed support for a political campaign. The problem is that Trump Jr. is hawking a new book and thus it is hard to characterize his speech as part of a political campaign. He is not a candidate and did not appear for the purpose of the campaign.
Adav Noti, senior director of the Campaign Legal Center and former legal counsel for the Federal Election Commission, said that there are legitimate concerns since “Campaign officials shouldn’t be giving paid speeches to charitable organizations. That shouldn’t be happening. So all the discussions about whether they broke the law or not shouldn’t obscure the bigger point that they just don’t care about the law.”
Once again, my primary concern is the consistency in this position. I do not recall objections to Chelsea Clinton giving speeches or even Hillary Clinton when she was clearly going to run. To this day, Clinton speeches are loaded with anti-Trump rhetoric but the speeches are not viewed as violating such political campaign rules.
The one countervailing concern in my view if the email reported by the student newspaper, The Alligator, where Murphy appears to coordinate on the event with Caroline Wren, national finance consultant for Trump Victory, a fundraising committee for the president’s campaign. That is problematic and worthy of inquiry. I fail to see why any campaign official should have been involved in such planning. Student also object the Murphy’s alleged ties to the Trump family.
The event draw a large crowd including protesters. That certainly achieved the purpose of having events that generate debates and passions. The couple did praise Trump but avoided any direct campaigning.