College Republicans pull support for McCain talk

The GW College Republicans have withdrawn their financial support from Meghan McCain’s upcoming appearance at GW, after claims that the Allied in Pride president was not forthcoming about the topic of McCain’s speech.

Michael Komo, president of Allied in Pride, told The Hatchet last week that McCain would be appearing as the keynote speaker of their annual “Marriage Equality Week” in February, but the CR leadership claims they were not aware of this when they were asked for their financial support. McCain, an outspoken advocate for gay rights, is the daughter of former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

“Our executive board was told that Meghan McCain’s primary focus would be her opinion on what it means to be a Republican,” Rob Noel, CR public relations director, said. “We later discovered through her Twitter and subsequent conversations with the SA and [the Graduate School of Political Management] that she would be giving the keynote address for Marriage Equality Week.”

A link to The Hatchet article was posted to McCain’s Twitter page, prompting McCain to tweet, “Yes, I am the keynote speaker at George Washington University’s “Marriage Equality Week” next month. Can’t wait, very honored to be asked!”

Komo, a Student Association senator, acknowledged that he did not say McCain would be appearing during Marriage Equality Week when he spoke to the CRs at their executive board meeting.

“I didn’t technically say it’s Marriage Equality Week,” Komo said, calling the slip “completely unintentional.”

“I didn’t even know this could be an issue,” he said. “I would never think to disclose or withhold that information.”

The GSPM Student Association was similarly surprised to hear their event, which was meant to be a discussion about the future of the Republican Party, was severely narrowed by Komo’s characterization.

“The first thing we knew about marriage equality was when it was written in The Hatchet,” said Jamie Baker, president of the GSPM SA and also a Student Association senator.

Komo said there were going to be two different flyers advertising for McCain, and that the College Republicans logo would not have appeared on the one for Marriage Equality Week.

Komo called McCain coming to campus during Marriage Equality Week “not mutually exclusive” from her speaking to GSPM. Allied in Pride always holds Marriage Equality Week during this time of year, he said.

According to a copy of McCain’s contract obtained by The Hatchet, there is no reference to Marriage Equality Week. The program topic listed is “Redefining Republican: No Labels, No Boxes, No Stereotypes.”

Baker said a speaker always has latitude with what they want to address, but the event is now being characterized as something it is not.

“I am essentially taking unilateral control of this event. My organization signed the contract and put up the money for the deposit,” Baker said.

For the event, GW organizations are paying the booking agency Greater Talent Network $7,500, plus the cost of airfare, lodging, food, and transportation, according to the contract. The total cost is estimated to be slightly under $10,000, Baker said.

GSPM put up $3,000 for the initial deposit and Allied in Pride initially gave $750. More than half of Allied in Pride’s budget for Marriage Equality Week will go toward McCain’s appearance, Komo said.

McCain is scheduled to speak Feb. 9 at the Jack Morton Auditorium.

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