Phi Beta Cons

How PIRG Scams Student Fees for Political Action

Leftists are unscrupulous when it comes to grabbing other people’s money and using it for their purposes. They’ve also become incredibly good at it, relying on their political allies to grease the rails so they can latch onto money, use it as they see fit, and avoid accountability.

We find this happening on many college campuses, where Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) siphon away student fee money for their off-campus activism. It’s an easy target, especially since most college officials are philosophical allies, quite happy to help the cause. In an illuminating article in the current issue of City Journal, “The PIRG — University Alliance” CUNY geology professor David Seidemann exposes this nasty business.

He reports that NYPIRG (that is, New York Public Interest Research Group) “raises more money than all other campus student groups and surreptitiously diverts those funds to its statewide lobbying operations. Compounding the problem, CUNY administrators exhibit blatant bias to promote the groups’s interests.”

The administration must know it’s doing something shady here because they refuse to allow any discussion of their role in funding NYPIRG, going so far as to shut off microphones and end a forum when members of the audience persisted in asking about NYPIRG funding.

Furthermore, NYPIRG has so wormed its way into CUNY that students can actually get credit for working on NYPIRG events and projects.

If you suspect that all of this is of dubious legality if not blatantly illegal, you have company. Seidemann’s faculty colleague Mitchell Langbert points out in a post on his blog, “Section 501 (c)(3) of the IRS Code prohibits education institutes from engaging in political lobbying or ideological advocacy, but here we have colleges funneling student activities money into direct political uses that are unrelated to student activities.”

I think there’s a strong case waiting for an attorney who really wants to promote the public interest.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Origins of Progressive Agony

What has transformed the Democratic party into an anguished progressive movement that incorporates the tactics of the street, embraces maenadism, reverts to Sixties carnival barking, and is radicalized by a new young socialist movement? Even party chairman Tom Perez concedes that there are “no moderate ... Read More

How Will the Senate Races Break?

How will the Senate races break? We have less public polling to go on than in recent years, so answering that question is harder than ever. But the news is more optimistic for Republicans than it was a month ago.   Waves and Breakers Four years ago, I projected in mid September that if “historical ... Read More
PC Culture

Warren Is a Fraud

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has been telling a story for years. It’s a deeply romantic story about her parents and their young love, fraught with the familial bigotry of an earlier time. Here’s how she told it this week in a video she released in preparation for her 2020 run: My daddy always said he ... Read More

Two Minnesota Republican Candidates Assaulted

Two Republican candidates for state office in Minnesota have been physically assaulted in recent days, leading prominent Republican lawmakers to caution their Democratic colleagues against employing inflammatory rhetoric. Republican state representative Sarah Anderson was punched in the arm last week after ... Read More
Law & the Courts

A Christian Man Receives Justice

A good man’s legal ordeal is at an end. Yesterday, my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom announced that former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran had reached a $1.2 million settlement, ending a case he brought after the city fired him for writing -- and distributing to a select few ... Read More