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Conservative group tries to buy influence in ASG

At least two Associated Student Government (ASG) cabinet members received emails offering scholarships and mentorship from the Campus Leadership Project (CLP), a mentorship program for student leaders and subset of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit group. 

According to its website, the CLP is a leadership development program that supports and trains student leaders while also giving them educational and career opportunities. 

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Turning Point USA seeks to exert influence over student government leaders and often gives money to try to elect conservative students. 

In 2017, candidates at The Ohio State University and the University of Maryland at College Park dropped out after it was revealed that they received campaign donations from Turning Point USA, according to The Chronicle. 

Last year, a student body president at Texas State University resigned after being accused of taking campaign money from the organization. 

Representatives from CLP couldn’t be reached for comment. 

On Monday, Oct. 28, Antonio Vasquez Lim, ASG’s secretary for infrastructure and sustainability, and Ben Mitsch, ASG’s secretary for safety, received emails offering them a scholarship and mentorship from CLP. 

Mitsch said he thought the email was spam. 

“I don’t really know much about [CLP], and I don’t really have the time or the interest to reply to it,” Mitsch said. 

Lim also hadn’t heard of the company but thought the email seemed weird and did some research, finding articles about CLP’s involvement in student government at other schools. 

Lim said he will not accept the scholarship from CLP and didn’t respond to the email. 

“I just wanted to stay far away from it,” he said. 

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Lim thinks he was targeted because of the nature of his position. 

“I would think it’s because my position is related to sustainability, and a lot of times conservatives differ in views from maybe my views even though I don’t really vocalize them that often,” Lim said. “I feel like they want to change my views on sustainability, I guess make me just stop pursuing it as much or kind of make my position impotent.”

Lim clarified that he would never take bribes for his work in ASG. 

“Involving money in the affairs of people that are supposed to be representing the student body, it just isn’t right to me, and it kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” he said. “I think that trying to tempt these students with scholarships who might not have any money … is just not a good tactic to me.”