Rick Perry says the recent presidential election was stolen.
The Texas A&M student body presidential election, that is.
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The country’s new energy secretary took time away from his administrative duties in Washington to pen an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle saying he was “deeply troubled” by the conduct of the A&M administration and Student Government Association during the 2017 student body elections.
An openly gay student, Bobby Brooks, was named president after opponent Robert McIntosh was disqualified. An investigation found that McIntosh had failed to file an expense report having to do with glow sticks. He was cleared of voter intimidation charges.
Perry, A&M class of ‘72 and two-time Yell Leader, cried foul.
Guess there’s not much to grab his attention these days at energy, a department that Perry once famously wanted to abolish. Or maybe he was taking a spring break.
Whatever the reason, he decided it was important enough for him to intercede.
He says in the op-ed that he initially viewed Brooks’ election “as a testament to Aggie character. I was proud of our students because the election appeared to demonstrate a commitment to treating every student equally, judging on character rather than on personal characteristics.”
On further review, he says, he found that the charges against McIntosh resulted from Brooks’ dirty campaign tactics and that the campaign expense charge was based on a flimsy technicality. Further, the glow sticks used by McIntosh were no different from the visual props used by his opponents.
Perry says no consideration was given to whether the punishment fit the crime and concludes, “Apparently, glow sticks merit the same punishment as voter intimidation.”
He says that while Brooks’ presidency is now being seen as a victory for diversity, “It is difficult to escape the perception that this quest for ‘diversity’ is the real reason the election outcome was overturned.”
He asks what the outcome would have been if McIntosh had been a minority student instead of a white male and if Brooks had been the disqualified candidate. “Would the administration and the student body have allowed the first gay student body president to be voided for using charity glow sticks?”
Texas A&M spokeswoman Amy Smith responded: “We appreciate Secretary Perry’s long-term commitment to his alma mater and to the state in general ... [but] to suggest that the same decision of disqualification would not have been made if the roles were reversed is to deny the Texas A&M of today where accountability applies to all.”
She told The Dallas Morning News, “I'm surprised that he's weighing in. I'm surprised he would have the time to do that."
Anything in the in-box, Mr. Secretary?