Harvard Institute of Politics kicks Stefanik off committee, saying she spread falsehoods

Defiant rep says her alma mater’s censure is ‘badge of honor’

Rep. Elise Stefanik gives a victory speech on election night, Nov. 3, 2020, at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls. (Provided photo — Christopher Lenney, Watertown Daily Times)

North County U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s alma mater, Harvard University, removed her from its Institute of Politics’ Senior Advisory Committee Tuesday, saying her false allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election “have no basis in fact.”

Stefanik, part of the Harvard undergraduate Class of 2006, responded Tuesday that the college was “bowing to the far-left.” In the past she has used the term “far-left” to include a wide range of Democrats and progressives, including President-elect Joe Biden.

Douglas Elmendorf, dean of Harvard’s public policy Kennedy School, said in a letter to committee members that he first asked Stefanik to step down from the committee. When she declined, he removed her.

“As a conservative Republican, it is a rite of passage and badge of honor to join the long line of leaders who have been boycotted, protested and canceled by colleges and universities across America,” Stefanik wrote in a statement. “The decision by Harvard’s administration to cower and cave to the woke Left will continue to erode diversity of thought, public discourse and ultimately, the student experience.”

Elmendorf said his reason for removal was not political.

“My request was not about political parties, political ideology or her choice of candidate for president,” Elmendorf wrote. “Rather, in my assessment, Elise has made public assertions about voter fraud in November’s presidential election that have no basis in evidence, and she has made public statements about court actions related to the election that are incorrect.”

He wrote that the false statements she made were not about policy disagreements but the foundation of the electoral process.

At the Jan. 6 Electoral College vote to certify Democrats Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice president, Stefanik was prepared to object to electors from four states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia — though she only got the chance to vote on Pennsylvania. The congressional session was thrust into chaos that afternoon as a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters invaded the Capitol building, looting, fighting police and searching for legislators they resented for certifying Biden and Harris.

Five people died in the riot.

The mob was incensed by Trump’s many false claims that voter fraud cost him the election.

In more than 60 lawsuits Trump’s campaign filed, courts found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election results. Many Republican officials, including now-former Attorney General William Barr, have also said this.


In a letter to committee members, Elmendorf said he and IOP Director Mark Gearan have spent a “good deal of time” thinking about Stefanik’s role in the organization.

In her time at Harvard, Stefanik served as the vice president of the institute’s Student Advisory Committee, and Elmendorf said she continued mentoring students and strengthening the IOP’s programming for years.

“We are grateful for her long and committed service,” he wrote.

Stefanik said Elmendorf’s decision was an elitist silencing of conservative views.

“The Ivory Tower’s march toward a monoculture of like-minded, intolerant liberal views demonstrates the sneering disdain for everyday Americans and will instill a culture of fear for students who will understand that a conservative viewpoint will not be tolerated and will be silenced,” Stefanik wrote. “I relish the opportunity to stand up for freedom of speech and freedom of thought on college campuses across America. Congratulations Harvard, the entire Board of the Institute of Politics now consists only of Joe Biden voters — how reflective of America.”

This removal comes after nearly 700 people affiliated with Harvard signed a petition last week asking the IOP to distance itself from Stefanik. The petition’s author, Megan Corrigan, Class of 2016, wrote in a tweet that the petition was signed by two former presidents of the Harvard Republican Club.

Current students spread the petition around campus via social media.

Crimson criticism

The editorial board of Harvard’s student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, published a staff editorial Jan. 9 labeling Harvard graduates Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., and Stefanik as being “all we should not be.”

Stefanik worked as an editorial page editor, columnist and staff writer at the Crimson when she attended classes there.

The editorial board criticized Stefanik for supporting and enabling Trump and the mob who fought and killed for him.

“When you convince millions of Americans that their vote has been stolen, legitimizing baseless conspiracies and riling up their basest, most reactionary instincts, you can only expect that some of them will fight back against the falsified wrong,” they wrote.

“The authority Harvard confers should not be used to peddle unfounded conspiracies designed to undermine faith in our elections,” the board wrote. “Harvard students should not be glowering threats to American democracy. In other words, Cruz, Mast, and Stefanik exemplify the worst of what we could be.”

Fraternal feud

“During my time in Congress serving on the House Committee on Education and Labor, I have already taken on Harvard and won,” Stefanik wrote in her statement.

This is in reference to a 2016 Harvard policy banning members of single-sex organizations — such as fraternities and sororities — from holding leadership in other areas of the college. In 2019 Stefanik opposed this, working with other members of the committee to install a provision in that year’s College Affordability Act essentially withholding certain federal education funds from schools with policies like these.

Stefanik said fighting this policy, which she called an “unconstitutional attack on freedom of association” is still one of her “proudest achievements.”

Stefanik, of Schuylerville, easily won a fourth term in office in the November 2020 election.


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