Cue the outrage. Among the horrors supposedly uncovered by UnKoch is that one condition of these gifts was that George Mason rename its law school after Antonin Scalia. UnKoch wants everyone to know that the Great Scalia was “one of the most ideological and polarizing Supreme Court Justice [sic] in history.” OMG, as the kids say. The New York Times ran a nearly full-page story on the documents.
The truth is that the naming request and decision went through normal university channels that included a vote by the university’s Board of Visitors, as well as the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Scalia friend, also approved.
UnKoch has also hyped correspondence between George Mason’s law school and the Federalist Society as something nefarious. The emails include Mr. Leo’s recommendation of a prospective student and discussion of candidates for professorships. UnKoch is aghast that a law professor and Mr. Leo would discuss federal clerkships for alumni who are current Federalist Society members. Don’t universities want their graduates to succeed?
UnKoch has also seized on now-obsolete gift agreements between the Mercatus Center and George Mason’s economics department. Signed between 2003 and 2011, they gave the Koch Foundation a minority role on committees that make recommendations about candidates for George Mason professorships and for Mercatus Center positions funded by its gifts.
This non-scandal gets worse. A 2009 gift agreement between George Mason and the Mercatus Center outlined the terms for a Koch-funded chair, and it states that “the objective of the Professorship is to advance the understanding, acceptance and practice of those free market processes and principles which promote individual freedom, opportunity and prosperity, including the rule of law, constitutional government, private property and the laws, regulations, organizations, institutions, and social norms upon which they rely.”
We should hope so. Donors are committing no crime in trying to judge if their philanthropy is fulfilling its purpose. The Kochs, God bless them, believe in supporting academics who believe in the principles of liberty and market economics. While they can’t and shouldn’t dictate what any professor writes, professors who believe in free markets will tend to support those principles.
The contracts explicitly stipulate that “the final say in all faculty appointments lies in specified GMU procedures, involving academic approval and final approval by the Board of Visitors.” But if George Mason chose to hire academics like the prolific Donald Boudreaux because he believes in advancing free-market ideas, so much the better.
Or so much the worse to the left, which brooks no intellectual diversity without essaying a smear or two.