Saint Louis University banned Scott Brown from speaking this week at an on-campus event sponsored by the school’s College Republicans chapter.
School officials claimed to fear that allowing the former Massachusetts senator to appear could trigger an IRS investigation and jeopardize SLU’s status as a tax-exempt institution, reports PoliticsMo, a website devoted to the state’s political scene.
“I get there yesterday and said, ‘we all set?'” Brown told the website. “They said, ‘the administration wouldn’t let you on campus, we couldn’t get a room.'”
Consequently, student organizers were forced to relocate the event to a restaurant several blocks away from campus.
Todd Foley, an assistant director with SLU’s student involvement center staff, explained the private Jesuit school’s imaginative, paranoid reasoning in an email obtained by PoliticsMo.
“The University has determined that Scott Brown is considered a candidate for public office and therefore falls under the provisions of the Tax Code from the IRS regarding educational institutions hosting candidates for public office.” Foley wrote. “His appearance here would be a violation of our Tax Exempt status as a 501(c)3.”
Brown was in St. Louis as part of a three-city Missouri tour hosted by the state’s College Republicans. On Wednesday, he spoke at the University of Missouri-Columbia on Wednesday. On Thursday, he is scheduled to speak at Missouri State University in Springfield.
The former senator is not currently a candidate for any public office. However, Foley said, it’s conceivable that he may run for some office again one day, and that’s enough to outlaw the Republican’s appearance at a campus event.
“Since Scott Brown has made comments about possibly running for office in NH and that others have made similar comments about him running, then the IRS would consider him as a candidate–thus it being in conflict with our tax exempt status.”
The Boston Herald notes that Brown may run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire in the future, or possibly for president in 2016. He has also formed a political action committee, People’s Seat PAC Inc., in New Hampshire.
“If you want to give any money to any candidates, by law you’ve got to have a PAC,” he said.
It’s not clear why SLU officials decided to ban Brown, especially since the school has hosted politicians and actual — not possible — political candidates for political office in recent years.
In March 2011, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, appeared on SLU’s campus as part of a “Most Influential St. Louisans” event, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In September 2008, then-Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean was on SLU’s campus “to kick off an all-out voter registration and participation drive on the university campuses of the St. Louis area,” according to Show Me Progress, a blog for “Missouri’s Progressive Politics Community.” Dean was on a “Register for Change” tour.
Also in 2008, SLU also hosted a post-debate campaign rally for former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
The city of St. Louis also appears to be a place where politicians and aspiring politicians regularly speak on college campuses.
For example, on the nearby, also private campus of Washington University, now-Senator-elect Cory Booker gave the May 17, 2013 undergraduate commencement address. Booker was the mayor of Newark, N.J. at the time.
About three weeks later, on June 8, Booker declared his Senate candidacy.
In early May, Booker publicly announced that he would run for the Senate, reports The Daily Beast.
“Unofficially, I’m running,” he told an intimate crowd at a fancypants Manhattan restaurant.
Washington University has apparently managed to maintain its tax-exempt status with minimal — perhaps even zero — hassle from the IRS since Booker’s commencement address.