Liberty U president says on tape that ‘getting people elected’ is his goal

Comments from Prevo, a Liberty trustee who took office as president after Jerry Falwell Jr. (3) – Charitable organization should not participate directly in political campaigns.

On the call, Prevo said he wanted the center Lamb was responsible for to be “more effective than Ralph Reed,” referring to the prominent leader of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a conservative advocacy group.

In response to the call, Lamb denied the idea that the university should champion certain candidates, saying there had previously been concerns about conflicting with their charitable tax status.

“I have a 50c3 church,” Prevo said on the record. “For 30 years I have known how to deal with it and not get into trouble. The gay community has tried to bring me down for at least 30 years and they haven’t been successful because I know how to work with 50c3. “

Lamb was fired from Liberty in early October, which he says was partly related to his concerns about possible violations of the university’s 501 (c) (3) status. In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, he also alleged that Liberty fired him in retaliation for concerns he raised about the university’s handling of reports of sexual assault and harassment.

Lamb said in an interview that he believed Prevo instructed him, during the taped call and on other occasions, to do things that could have jeopardized the university’s status as a 501 (c) (3) charity. He said he interpreted Prevo’s comments as saying that “the president of the university instructed his senior vice president to vote for ‘our people’ this fall”.

Lamb said he believed Prevo’s instructions to him had crossed a line.

“He’s telling me to do things we can’t do,” Lamb said.

Liberty University has pushed Lamb’s characterization of his conversations with Prevo.

“President Prevo knows the lines set by the IRS for political engagement by 501 (c) (3) organizations, even if Scott Lamb doesn’t,” a university spokesman said in a statement. “The IRS recognizes that 501 (c) (3) conservative organizations can legally register and expel conservative voters in hopes of more conservative government. The same goes for liberal 501 (c) (3) s. You can also work against bad laws with the help of a former president. “

The university also said its internal policy on political engagement “actually has stricter limits than federal law”. The spokesperson provided a copy of this internal policy that Prevo emailed university directors earlier this year.

“Whatever the records say, they are not a substitute for higher education policy,” the spokesman said.

Universities and other not-for-profit charities under 501 (c) (3) are not allowed to participate in political campaigns under the federal tax law. These organizations are “absolutely prohibited from engaging in, directly or indirectly, any political campaign on behalf of (or against) any candidate for public office,” according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Falwell, who resigned last year over questions about his role in his wife’s affair with a former pool assistant and other allegations of inappropriateness, has faced complaints that he used university funds to watch former President Donald Trump and other Republicans support, including paying for campaign-season ads that Facebook has classified as political. A commercial showed Trump’s picture and urged people to “pray for our president”. Another showed a brilliant picture of North Carolina’s congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn, according to a POLITICO investigation.

Some faculty and students strongly objected to the university’s partisan activities, arguing that the university should return its focus to religion over politics.

But Prevo’s comments suggest that Liberty could continue its involvement in politics and potentially escalate, which was an important part of Falwell’s tenure. Falwell was the first evangelical leader to endorse Trump, a non-evangelical Christian, when he ran against numerous Republicans with strong evangelical connections.

Lamb also provided POLITICO with information about a meeting in April 2021 at the university to mobilize Christian opposition to democratic legislation on the right to vote and to expand federal anti-discrimination laws to protect people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The meeting, which focused on organizing against this legislation, known as HR 1 and HR 5, was attended by conservative drummers like Mike Pompeo, who served as Secretary of State under Trump and could run for president in 2024. Also present were Prevo and Jonathan Falwell, brother of the former Liberty President.

Televangelist Paula White, who chaired Trump’s evangelical council, patched Trump into the meeting on her cell phone.

“The election was a shame,” said Trump. “It was like being from a third world country. … That was a rigged and stolen election and people know it. Lots of people know. I can tell you the Republican Party knows. Mitch McConnell did a lousy job. He gave us absolutely no support. I guess that’s one of the things people talk about. “

Trump also told his audience that his administration had done more for Christians than any other government. However, he told them there was more work to be done. Christians could be “stronger”.

“When the people of faith come together … [they’re] the largest voting block there is. It’s bigger than both men and women. I hope you discuss it. But we are really in a position where we are really in a position to go out because of the results of this rigged choice, and we have to be very strong and very smart because of all the things we’ve got – and we got more than, I would say Paula, more than anyone has ever done in relation to belief, or in relation to religion and religious community. And that means all religions. We have done so well and much of it is being taken back by this government. “

The former president then thanked White for an “incredible job” in the election. “We had more evangelical voices than anyone thought possible,” he said, saying that the evangelicals had more “spirit” this time, suggesting that he would win more of their votes in 2024.

Just before hanging up, White said to the former president, “We stand by you.”

In March, Liberty University hired Glenn Clary, chairman of the Alaska GOP, as vice president of strategic partnerships and alliances. According to his school profile, Clary works directly with Prevo “to identify, facilitate and execute partnerships with individuals and organizations to advance the mission, strategic plan and spiritual focus of Liberty University.”

Both Clary and Prevo are ministers. You have known each other for more than 40 years. During Clary’s tenure as chairman, the Alaska Republican Party censured Sen. Lisa Murkowski Voted to convict Trump in his impeachment proceedings.

For some ex-Liberty officials, hiring Clary in a newly created role signals that the university’s president is interested in keeping the university active in political circles.

“Prevo is no different than [Jerry] Jr. when it comes to endorsing and leveraging Republican politics [Liberty] as a platform, ”a former high-ranking Liberty manager told POLITICO on condition of anonymity.

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