The Cornell College Republicans filed an administrative appeal with the College Republican National Committee today demanding to be immediately reinstated to the New York Federation of College Republicans.
The N.Y. Federation of College Republicans revoked recognition of the Cornell Chapter after they endorsed Independent candidate Gary Johnson for president on Sept. 2, chastising the group for breaking party lines.
The Cornell Republicans’ lawyer, Ronald L. Kuby J.D. ’83, drafted the appeal to Alex Smith, the National Chair of the College Republicans National Committee, stating that the rights of the Cornell Republicans were violated over the course of the expulsion.
In his letter, Kuby blamed the Chair of the New York Federation of College Republicans, Eli Nachmany — who he calls a “Trump supporter” working on the Republican candidate’s campaign — for calling an abrupt executive board vote, which resulted in a disregard for free speech protections. Nachmany did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“I write to you to take an appeal from the outrageous violations of my client’s free speech and due process rights perpetrated by Nachmany … when he revoked the credentials of the Cornell Republicans and suspended them as a member of the Federation without notice and in violation of the Federation’s constitution and bylaws,” Kuby wrote in the letter.
Arguing that the federation’s constitution only stipulates support for “conservative” principles and candidates, not specifically Republican ones, Kuby asserted that the federation vote violated the association’s own constitution. He also pointed out that there is no mechanism for expelling college Republican chapters, indicating that the revocation was both hasty and unprecedented.
Austin McLaughlin, the executive director of the Cornell Republicans, criticized Nachmany for acting in “secret” to orchestrate a vote that resulted in a “flagrant violation of the state constitution.”
“He acted unconstitutionally in calling for an emergency secret vote to expel the Cornell Republicans from the state organization,” McLaughlin said. “Further, Eli steamrolled the 6-3 emergency vote — an action impulsive at best and fraudulent at worst.”
The appeal highlighted Article 1 of the federation’s constitution, which states that the purpose of the organization is to “promote the principles of the limited government, fiscal responsibility, economic freedom and personal responsibility in New York college campuses.”
“With this quote … one would suppose that the Cornell Republicans were well within our bounds to endorse the fiscally conservative and limited government candidate Gary Johnson,” McLaughlin said.
Kuby also emphasized this point, writing that “nowhere in the [federation’s] constitution” is there a stipulation that college groups support Republican candidates. The letter stressed that the Cornell Republican’s endorsement of Johnson predicated support upon an assertion that the Independent candidate best exemplifies conservative principles in the 2016 election.
Vice Chair of the Cornell Republicans Irvin McCullough ’18 explained that the problem of restricted free speech that exceeds Cornell’s bounds.
“This is censorship,” McCullough said. “Let us endorse the candidate that best reflects our campus’ values. Isn’t that what small government is really about? Why should a larger organization, out of touch with our campus’ culture and climate demand we abandon our members and leave our morals at the door?”
The Cornell Republican’s appeal also warned the national organization that Nachmany’s role in the Trump campaign could jeopardize the organization’s 527 status, as independent from any campaign.
Olivia Corn ’19, the chair of Cornell Republicans, said she warned Nachmany of their plans to take legal action if Cornell’s chapter was not reinstated.
“I gave Eli Nachmany fair warning that we would seek legal redress if we were not reinstated, and he chose to laugh at me over the phone and was uncooperative with my requests,” Corn said. “I got off of my phone call with him, walked into my father’s room, and I said ‘Call Ron, I think we have a legal case.’”
Corn also expressed confidence that the Cornell Republicans will win this fight against the New York Federation.
“When we win and are reinstated, Mr. Nachmany will receive a motion from me for him to step down from his position,” she said.
The Cornell Republicans’ attorney warned that if the national committee did not act within 10 days the group “will proceed to litigation accordingly.”