- A conservative activist told a closed-door meeting it was “a great thing” that colleges had shut their campuses, suggesting that it meant students couldn’t vote for the Democrats, The Washington Post reported.
- Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, made the remarks at the Council for National Policy, a networking event for conservative activists and donors, according to The Post.
- The event was closed to the public, but The Post said it received video documentation of the event from an attendee.
- Kirk suggested that the closure of college campuses would limit students’ votes, and alleged without evidence that the Democrats were engaging in voter fraud on campuses, The Post reported.
- There is no evidence that Democrats have engaged in voter fraud on college campuses. Neither Kirk nor Turning Point USA have responded to a request for comment.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A prominent pro-Trump activist was applauded at a conference for conservative donors after suggesting that the closure of college campuses was “a great thing” because it meant that students could not vote for the Democratic Party, The Washington Post reported.
Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative youth group Turning Point USA, made the comments in August at the Council for National Policy, a networking event for influential Republican activists and donors.
The event was closed to the press, but The Post said it had received extensive video documentation of the group’s meetings over three days in February and three days in August.
‘Like half a million votes off the table’
At an August event, Kirk claimed without evidence that Democrats conducted voter fraud on college campuses, and celebrated “like half a million votes” being “off the table” due to closures from the coronavirus, The Post reported.
According to The Post, he said to cheers from the audience: “The Democrats have done a really foolish thing by shutting down all these campuses — foolish for them.”
“It’s going to remove ballot harvesting opportunities and all their voter fraud they usually do on college campuses,” he said. “So they’re actually removing like half a million votes off the table so please, keep the campuses closed. Like, it’s a great thing.”
The remark prompted applause and cheers from the audience, The Post reported.
There is currently no evidence that the Democrats have engaged in voter fraud on campuses. Business Insider has approached Kirk and Turning Point for further comment.
Kirk’s comments came as Trump and his allies publicly argued against lockdowns and called for schools and colleges to reopen.
In July, Trump said he wanted to get schools open “quickly, beautifully, in the fall,” claiming that the coronavirus’ mortality rate was falling and that good progress was being made in therapeutics and a vaccine. It is not yet known when a coronavirus vaccine will be available for the US public.
‘Be not afraid of the accusations that you’re a voter suppressor’
Another speaker at the Council for National Policy, former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams, also made baseless claims about voting access in the runup to the election.
According to The Post, he called mail-in voting “the number one left-wing agenda,” echoing Trump’s baseless and debunked claims that mail-in votes are vulnerable to fraud.
Adams urged the audience not to be concerned about criticisms, saying: “Be not afraid of the accusations that you’re a voter suppressor, you’re a racist and so forth,” according to The Post.
He later told The Post that he stood by what he said “because it is accurate.”
Republicans have long stood on principle against the practice of ballot harvesting — whereby a named individual can collect and submit votes on behalf of others, with the voter’s permission. Ballot harvesting is legal in some form in 26 states, according to CBS News.
In practice, however, Republicans have embraced the practice in California — where it is legal — to justify its continued use of unauthorized ballot drop boxes, despite receiving a cease-and-desist order over it.
Trump has frequently associated ballot harvesting with voter fraud, tweeting in April:
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2020
Turning Point USA told The Post that Charlie Kirk spoke at the meeting in a personal capacity and not as a representative of the organization.
The on-screen chyron, however, presented Kirk as part of the organization.