Employees Involved in Election Politics
Office of the President
To help ensure compliance with the laws regulating 501(c)(3) organizations, this policy governs the action of all Liberty University employees involving themselves in the politics of supporting or opposing a candidate for public office (“Election Politics”). Additional policy guardrails are being adopted here to steer clear of potential violations. Restrictions on statements, publication, and social media include The Liberty Champion and the Standing for Freedom Center. This policy does not include or impact employees involved in supporting and opposing ballot initiatives, petitions to government, referenda, or any other issues decided by ballot outside of the election of a candidate for public office.
Regarding Election Politics, an employee of Liberty University may:
- Vote for political candidates as he or she wishes without any pressure or influence from Liberty University or any supervisor, administrative leader, or executive.
- Make contributions to individual political candidates, political parties, and/or Political Action Committees, so long as Liberty University does not provide compensation to the employee tied to this purpose or provide reimbursement for the contributions made by the employee.
- Publicly state his or her endorsement of or opposition to any political candidate or political party, so long as the employee clearly indicates that the statement reflects his or her personal views and is not a representation of the views held by Liberty University. In connection with any employee’s endorsement of a political candidate (including the use by a campaign of the employee’s name, image, or physical presence), a disclaimer such as, “*titles and affiliations of each individual are provided for identification purposes only,” must be used in print, and in the absence of print, should be expressed orally in some comparable fashion. Employees who are executives, academic deans, and other senior administrators must take greater steps to ensure their personal endorsements will not be misinterpreted as views of Liberty University. In connection with any such senior employee’s endorsement of a political candidate (including the use of the employee’s name, image, or physical presence by a campaign), a longer disclaimer such as, “*titles and affiliations of each individual are provided for identification purposes only and do not imply an endorsement by the employing organization,” must be used in print, and in the absence of print, should be expressed orally in some comparable fashion. Such disclaimer statements are not necessary for merely attending a campaign fundraiser or campaign event so long as the employee’s appearance is not coordinated with the campaign or the candidate beyond an RSVP.
- Hold discussions regarding elections in academic settings, award academic credit to students for campaign work, and excuse students from class to participate in campaign work and/or vote, so long as the employee and Liberty University do not pressure or influence students regarding which campaigns to work for or which political candidate to vote for.
- Only allow political candidates who already hold public office to appear in a non-candidate capacity if appearing in a classroom or other event that is not part of an equal access candidate opportunity or forum.
- Provide viable political candidates equal access and equal invitations to candidate forums, to candidate debates, and to candidate speaking/appearance platforms. However, political candidate appearances on Liberty University broadcast stations may only occur if all viable political candidates in a particular race are invited and actually appear simultaneously with each being afforded equal airtime on Liberty University broadcast stations during the joint appearance.
- Allow approved SGA clubs and organizations (e.g., College Libertarians, Young Americans for Freedom), whether funded or unfunded by SGA, to use Liberty University facilities for political and candidate events in the same manner as approved student groups can use such facilities for non-political events.
- Conduct non-partisan voter registration activities on Liberty University’s time.
Regarding Election Politics, an employee of Liberty University may not:
- Campaign for or against a political candidate on Liberty University’s time. For hourly wage employees, that means no campaigning during hours for which the employee is paid (i.e., “on the clock”). For salaried employees, it means the employee must work a full-time work week and if campaigning prohibits that, the employee must take vacation time or leaves of absence without pay when campaigning.
- Campaign for or against a political candidate under the direction of Liberty University, or speak/act in the name of Liberty University for or against a political candidate.
- Make statements in support of or opposition to political candidates and political parties in Liberty University meetings (e.g., faculty and staff meetings), Liberty University social media accounts, or other official university settings (e.g., classes, Convocation, and other student assemblies).
- Use Liberty University letterhead, publications, websites, or social media accounts to endorse, support, or oppose a political candidate, political party, or their campaign(s).
- Place the names or images of any political candidate in connection with his or her candidacy in any Liberty University publication, website, or social media account, unless such placement is in connection with reporting positions of all viable candidates in a given race on a variety of issues. Such reporting must be based on survey or question responses provided by the candidates themselves or their campaigns. If a candidate or campaign fails to respond, the position must either be reported from the cited words of the candidate or campaign or as “did not respond.”
- Provide any political candidate’s website hyperlinks in Liberty University publications, on Liberty University websites, or in class-related internet sites or materials.
- Provide political candidates or their campaigns with Liberty University equipment (e.g., phones), mailing lists, printing, real estate (whether on campus or off campus), and/or other resources.
Date for Review