The conservative nonprofit linked to the Unity Party ticket, which withdrew from the University of Maryland’s SGA election last week, has set up shop at more than 1,000 college campuses nationwide, including all but three Big Ten schools.
The Unity Party withdrew on Thursday after a Diamondback article showed leaders failed to disclose campaign contributions from Turning Point USA affiliates in a way that violates Student Government Association election rules. Turning Point USA is an organization that encourages conservative students to run for student government positions.
Turning Point designed some Unity Party logos pro bono. The Unity Party did not note the contributions on preliminary financial reports. SGA election rules require parties to disclose both monetary and nonmonetary contributions, including from 501(c)(3) groups.
“Those who will read this are likely concrete in opinion regarding the SGA as a whole and the truly unknowing violation of Election Board rules and standards by the Unity Party,” the party wrote in a statement. “For this, we apologize. We attempted to play by the rules you set forth. Truly.”
Turning Point, founded in 2012, aims to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government,” according to its mission statement. It supports conservative campus groups and holds conferences to educate students about conservative principles. It has published several materials for students, including “Capitalism Cures,” and “The Healthcare Games.” Its books are distributed among college campuses and exist online to help spread Turning Point’s message.
In Maryland alone, Turning Point chapters are established at Towson University, Frostburg State, Mount St. Mary’s and this university, as well as at Oakdale High School. The Facebook page for this university’s officially affiliated Turning Point chapter hasn’t been updated since December 7, 2016 and appears to be inactive.
Turning Point set aside funds for a student government campaign at Ohio State University after candidates and group affiliates communicated in January, according to a February report in The Lantern, the school’s student newspaper.
Members of Turning Point attempted to influence the Associated Students of Madison’s student government elections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where two students belonging to the Badger Freedom Caucus passed out fliers designed and purchased by the organization, The Daily Cardinal reported April 10.
The ASM does not have rules regarding political action committees, and both students won their elections by large margins, the paper reported.
East Carolina University’s Turning Point student group announced in March that Tomi Lahren, a conservative political commentator, would be speaking at the group’s spring event, which is also sponsored by the student government and the university, according to ABC12.
In November, Turning Point created an online professor watchlist to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” Ashwini Tambe, a women’s studies professor at this university, as well as Faheem Younus, a University of Maryland School of Medicine professor, are on the watchlist.
The organization also runs its own news site, Hypeline News, which describes itself as a “a young-adult driven social news site.”