Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), a campus-based libertarian organization formed at the end of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign, has landed in a kerfuffle over allegations that it inflated its membership numbers relative to other generally conservative groups.
Some of the most vociferous complaints came from Students for Life, the nation’s largest pro-life student organization.
A press release and an associated, since-amended bar graph recently released by YAL asserts that Students for Life has about 200 campus groups.
Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life, sharply rejects this figure.
“We have 759 active groups,” Hawkins told TheDC, adding that the nonprofit also employs 15 staffers.
Similarly, Young Americans for Freedom claims 120 campus groups, but YAL pegged the similar-sounding organization with just 50 or so chapters.
The YAL press release claims 422 chapters in 49 states and a national network of over 125,000 student activists.
“The numbers are in,” boasts the press release, “Young Americans for Liberty has outgrown all right-of-center youth organizations to become the largest and fastest growing in the country, based on data released by the Leadership Institute.”
The Leadership Institute is an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit that facilities a network of conservative organizations and — via seminars — develops conservative activists for work in politics, government and media. A parade of famous alumni includes Grover Norquist, Mitch McConnell and James O’Keefe.
“Young people are flocking to the liberty movement right now, and I believe we have leaders like Ron and Rand Paul to thank for this,” Alyssa Farah, YAL’s communications director, added in the press release.
The press release and the bar graph brag that YAL “has outgrown” a host of campus-based groups including Students for Life, the Federalist Society, Students for Concealed Carry and the like.