The University shut down an Emory College Republicans fundraising website on Dec. 5 after the club used an Engage Emory URL to solicit political donations, violating Emory’s political contributions policy. The fundraiser, announced by the College Republicans on Dec. 3 via social media, aimed to raise $30,000 for the Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC created to protect and expand the Republican Senate majority.
As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, the University must comply with rules set by the Internal Revenue Service. One rule restricts non-profit universities like Emory from contributing to political candidates or political parties. The University’s policy specifically prohibits clubs from “using an institutional address as a return mailing address or for the solicitation of funds,” which includes Emory-affiliated webpages.
The Senate Leadership Fund has spent millions on advertising in Georgia over the past few weeks, aiming to help elect Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.). The two incumbents are competing against Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in closely watched runoff elections on Jan. 5. The races will determine which party maintains control of the Senate under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.
“Student Government Services policy 19.9 states that fundraisers cannot donate the money to outside groups or use it for non-Emory activities,” Assistant Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs Laura Diamond wrote in a Dec. 16 statement to the Wheel. “Student groups may direct people to third-party platforms to raise money to benefit causes outside the Emory community, such as political campaigns and disaster relief funds.”
In response to the webpage being taken down, the Emory College Republicans wrote in a Dec. 9 tweet that the University did not make the rules for club fundraising clear prior to the link’s creation.
“They did not inform us that we are not allowed to fundraise for political nonprofits through their fundraising infrastructure,” the tweet read. “They have accepted full responsibility for this severe miscommunication, but we will not stop.”
In a follow-up tweet the same day, the club appeared to accuse the administrators of employing political favoritism in shutting down the fundraiser, writing, “We will not let the University stop our fundraising efforts. Not now, not ever. The radical left will not shut us down on campus nor in the halls of Congress.”
Emory College Republicans President Jasmine Jaffe (22C) did not reply to several requests for comment by the time of publication. Jaffe wrote in a Dec. 10 email to the Wheel that the club will ignore all Wheel interview requests indefinitely. She rejected multiple requests seeking an explanation.