The Conservative Force Behind Speeches Roiling College Campuses - 2017-05-20
Over the past two years, armed with a $16 million infusion from the estate of an orthodontist in California, Robert Ruhe, the organization has doubled its programming, including campus speeches. In 2016 that meant 111 speakers on 77 campuses. On the group's website, it boasted of "dispatching" 31 speakers to colleges last month alone.
In that time, the speakers have gotten edgier, more in-your-face and sometimes even meanspirited. Among them is Ann Coulter, whose canceled speech last month at the University of California, Berkeley, led the foundation, which was covering most of her $20,000 fee, to sue the college, arguing that it had violated the First Amendment in its failure to provide a suitable time and place for the event.
The resulting clashes on university campuses, including protests and efforts to block speeches, have raised free speech questions. And at Berkeley, even liberals who oppose Ms. Coulter's viewpoints said her speech should have been allowed to proceed.