Falwell Jr. defends university's tweet pushing votes for Trump in reportedly rigged poll

Source: The Hill | September 9, 2019 | Justine Coleman

Jerry Falwell Jr. stood by a tweet from Liberty University calling for followers to vote for Donald Trump in a 2014 online poll that according to multiple outlets had been rigged.

The tweet in question, sent on Jan. 23, 2014, linked to a CNBC poll that The Wall Street Journal reported in January had been rigged in Trump’s favor with the help of Liberty University employee John Gauger, who manages a private consulting firm.

“Our friend @realdonaldtrump has been nominated as 1 of @cnbc’s top 25 businessmen of the last 25 yrs. Vote 4 him here…” the tweet read.

Fallwell Jr., an ally of Trump and Liberty University’s president, told Politico for an article published Monday that a representative of the Trump business organization asked the university to utilize Twitter to gain votes in the poll. He said it’s typical for speakers at the university’s weekly gathering to ask the university to promote their work. 

“After speaking for free at Convocation and being so complimentary to our University in his remarks, I considered Donald Trump to be a friend of Liberty University and was happy to publicize the poll in hopes that Liberty followers would be willing to vote for him on the heels of his very positive recent campus appearance,” Falwell told Politico.

Liberty University is a nonprofit, which prevents it from participating in “political campaign activity,” according to the IRS. Otherwise, the university would have to sacrifice its nonprofit status.

Falwell pointed out to Politico that Trump was not a candidate when the tweet was published.

The Wall Street Journal earlier this year reported that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen hired Gauger’s firm RedFinch LLC to rig polls in Trump’s favor in 2014 and 2015 as the current president considered his run.

Cohen reportedly aimed to increase support for the president ahead of a campaign by manipulating these polls.

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  •  EVERYDAY #31682

    I used to be a Catholic years ago. Not sure if it’s true now, but back then, clergy was forbidden from promoting politicians to their congregations. I think the closest the pastor of my childhood church came was to urge the parishioners to vote on election day.

    This should be the policy in all churches. I am suspect of any clergyman who tells me who I should vote for. I wonder what compensation these supposed men of God are getting for pushing Trump.

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