Treasury approves Rove speech

Student Union approves $35K appeal for former Bush adviser

| News Editor

After nearly an hour of passionate debate Tuesday night, Student Union Treasury voted to approve a $35,000 emergency appeal to bring Republican political strategist Karl Rove to campus.

Rove is set to speak on campus on Nov. 3, the eve of the presidential election, about his experiences as the architect of President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns. His speech is being sponsored by the College Republicans.

Rove was deputy chief of staff to President Bush until Rove resigned on Aug. 31, 2007; he now works as a political analyst for Fox News and as a columnist at Newsweek magazine. Rove resigned in a storm of controversy, most notably the outing of CIA agent Valarie Plame.

“I think Karl Rove is just going to draw people. He’s a big name, I mean he’s been incredibly influential in bringing our country to where it is now as a strategist,” junior Anna Luft, College Republicans Public Relations Coordinator, said during the debate. “Whether you love him or hate him, this will sell out.”

The appeal was brought before Treasury as an emergency appeal, meaning that it was time sensitive and required a decision by a certain date. The event was added to Treasury’s agenda on Monday night when the College Republicans were able to negotiate a significantly reduced price for Rove’s appearance, bringing the price tag from $50,000 to $30,000.

In addition to Rove’s $30,000 honorarium, $5,000 were allocated for additional costs including security, lodging and other incidentals.

“I hope that we don’t let our political ideologies create a smoke screen in front of us,” sophomore and Treasury representative Manjaap Sidhu said. “Karl Rove was on the forefront of the recount in Florida. That may have been the most controversial election in recent history—to have him here and to talk about it, you might agree or disagree, but to get his perspective live is something that’s priceless.”

The College Republicans plan to seek funding from the election programming fund later this week and, if the funding results in excess money, the group will return the surplus to Treasury.

College Republicans President Charis Fischer defended her decision to bring Rove to campus, citing him as “one of the most brilliant political strategists of our time.”

“I think he is pretty appealing even if you don’t agree with his politics,” Fischer said. “He has a lot to share, so I don’t think there should be controversy over him, I don’t see why people would get mad that he is coming to speak.”

Although some have drawn comparisons between this decision and the controversy caused by the College Republicans’ keynote speaker last year, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Fischer says that she does not think that Rove will incite the same reaction that Gonzales did.

College Democrats President Ben Guthorn says that he does not think that Rove is worth the high price tag and that bringing in another speaker so closely tied to the Bush administration will not benefit students. Guthorn said that simply because Rove has proven himself to be an effective political strategist does not mean that hearing him speak will be a valuable experience.

“He is sadistically brilliant,” Guthorn said. “Someone may be brilliant, but if that person is advocating for the degradation of civil liberties, that makes them a horrible person in my eyes.”

Although the College Democrats were active in protesting Gonzales coming to campus, Guthorn, who was present at the Treasury meeting and spoke against the appeal, said that he would be focusing on election related activities the night of the talk.

“Of course [protests are] something of discussion, when you bring such a controversial figure to campus,” Guthorn said. “I can’t promise anything, but I can say personally that I will be helping to elect the next leader of the free world on the eve of the Election Day.”

Guthorn says that Rove coming the night before Election Day is a “political ploy” and that Rove’s speech will likely read much like a campaign speech endorsing John McCain without actually mentioning McCain.

The event is set to take place in Graham Chapel, with the possibility of the speech being telecast into a second viewing location. It has not yet been determined whether a question and answer session will be held after the speech.

Ten members of the Treasury voted in favor of the appeal, five voted against it and there were two abstentions; one Treasurer was absent.

With additional reporting by Sharon Barbour and Johann Qua Hiansen

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.