Fact check: Stefanik wrong on Cuomo role

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, addresses the crowd at her election night victory party in Glens Falls. 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 on Tuesday, saying her 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.

Schism

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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(15) comments

zeitgeist

Stefanik would have us believe that her conservative political ideology and loyalty to Trump led to her dismissal from Harvard's Institute of Politics. She alleges that the college and Institute are bastions of intolerant, elite, liberal, ideology. She cries victimization!

If the Institute is intolerant of conservative ideology and people having Trump associations, why were some of its fellows conservative Republicans having Trump associations-- Sean Spicer, Corey Lewandowski, Reince Priebus, and Gary Cohn? During their tenures, the Institute didn't dismiss them. Why? Because they didn't peddle a lie!

There are consequences for peddling a lie.

There are repercussions too. In the case of her lie, they are staggering.

KRobbins

Hey, Elise is trying to be a victim here. Don’t rain on her pity parade.

Eagle24

There you go again zeitgeist.... confusing the Trumper's with facts... Good research...waste of time sharing since some are blind by choice...

Havenford

And now Stefanik and the sedition caucus is yelling at Capitol Hill police for enhanced security. She just does nothing but whine and rage.

Holmes

Harvard should spend less time on political witch-hunts and more time making sure their chemistry department is not selling secrets to China.

KNL

Stefanik's reply is a confused rant. She claims to be a conservative Republican, but ideological conservatives have long divested themselves from the Trump circus. She claims it is a badge of honor to be a casualty of "cancel culture" when, actually, cancel culture is an extension of civil rights activists’ push for meaningful change, and, like the "woke left", a political term which refers to awareness of issues which concern social justice and racial justice, they demonstrate the opposite of "sneering disdain for everyday Americans." I suppose it all depends on which everyday Americans Stefanik aligns. Unfortunately, in these days of alternate facts and isolated narcissists, we are all victims of a culture of fear. Some fear crazed, violent racists and besotted believers of conspiracy theories. Stefanik, though, "peddling false claims about voter fraud," the reason Harvard severed ties, is currying these people to boost her political career. Apparently, Stefanik fears remaining a House Representative from NY21 when bigger positions on the national political stage beckon. It seems, ultimately, it's her own freedom of speech and thought that she'll do anything to achieve.

Becky Melvin

The congresswoman was "removed" from her post because she questioned the electoral votes. Wow. I am troubled by the intolerance and hubris that the Harvard administration and students are demonstrating here.

KRobbins

After the attack on the Capitol, the 5 deaths, the threat of more violence from Trump’s supporters, the division in the country and, of course, the ongoing pandemic we must think of the true victims Donald Trump and Elise Stefanik.

rdsouth

The article is largely about the ongoing feud Stefanik has had with Harvard for many reasons. Make it a big one and people's brains will just be paralyzed trying to process it. And Stefanik did more than question the electoral votes, she signed onto a frivolous lawsuit seeking to throw out certified election results in another state. Not the same thing as an inquiring mind.

Havenford

No, because she helped a mob murder a cop and attack the Capitol. If that's cool with you then you have serious problems. Stefanik is not a "patriot," she's pathological.

Eagle24

Just maybe Becky Harvard recognizes that questioning false claims equals supporting Trump's mob.... Nobody suggests elections are perfect...never have been...but suggesting the imperfections changed the outcome is believing in unicorns... If you're looking for intolerance and hubris condemn the mob storming the Capital building..killing a policeman...

Rambo

Good for you Elise—Harvard and most of the Ivy League schools are all going way to far to the left.

Proud of you

KRobbins

I came here with a modest proposal which I believe is totally off the table now. Since I hate to see my ideas go to waste. This was it.

I thought, as opposed to resigning, she could (and I realize how stupid this sounds now) offer a real apology for any role she may have played and say she’ll be retiring from Congress after this term. I had hoped to satisfy those on the left calling for her to step down. She could cut whatever allegiance she has to maintain to Trump. She could be truly independent and not have to play political games and spout stuff like she does here. Whatever legacy or reputation she hoped to preserve is really fading fast. It’s really sad. I say that sincerely.

I realize that she’s likely to win re-election since half of Republicans say the attack was okey dokey. Doesn’t seem like it’s good for the Republican Party either, but they seem to be in a dark place right now.

Hey Joe, good luck with the bipartisan thing.

Holmes

“ bipartisan thing“ like the last 4 years of the “bipartisan thing?” With plans such as Joe’s and half the population in opposition, his “Soul of the Nation” bus has come to a screeching halt. And the “ She could be truly independent“ thing. She’s a Republican not an Independent. What do you want her to be, a Bernie Sanders...

KRobbins

Of course in the same way Trump used Stefanik, McConnell used Trump and now has no more use for him. 😢

McConnell thinks that Trump being impeached and then potentially convicted and ousted from office by the US Senate "will make it easier to purge him from the party,"

Purges. Just like the Russians. How ironic.

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