Roger Stone and James O’Keefe scheduled for Siena “free speech conference”

COLONY – The Siena College Republican Club, Young Americans for Liberty and the Siena Chapter of Turning Point USA will be hosting a one-day “free speech conference” next month that is expected to feature political figures Roger Stone and James O ‘Keefe.

The Sunday April 15 event will also feature other conservative and libertarian speakers.

Stone is a political advisor, lobbyist, and author with a long history in Republican politics. Self-described “dirty trickster” debuted during President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972. In 1980, Stone co-founded Washington, DC-based lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone with Paul Manafort, who would manage Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for several key months. (Manafort faces more than 30 federal charges brought by Special Advocate Robert Mueller, alleging his role in a decade-long money laundering program.)

Stone was one of the first advisers to Trump’s presidential effort, but left the campaign in August 2015. The two have remained in touch. Stone appeared before the House Intelligence Committee last September in a closed-door session to answer questions about Russian interference in the presidential election; The stone has vehemently denied there was collusion between the countryside and foreign elements.

Closer to home, Stone was the campaign manager for the 2010 campaign for governor of “Manhattan Madam” Kristin Davis.

O’Keefe is a conservative provocateur who has made his career trying to expose what he describes as liberal media bias and left-wing hypocrisy, frequently through secret videos. The majority of his work is carried out through a Mamaroneck-based non-profit organization called Project Veritas.

He gained notoriety in 2009 for several videos that led to the demise of ACORN, an organization that promoted healthcare and voter registration in low-income communities. The videos showed O’Keefe seeking advice on how to start a brothel.

In this and other controversies, O’Keefe has been criticized for using deceptive techniques, including selective sequence editing. He employed even more dubious tactics: In 2010, O’Keefe pleaded guilty in Louisiana to entering the office of US Senator Mary Landrieu under false pretenses. He was sentenced to a fine and three years of probation and community service.

Last fall, O’Keefe received heavy criticism after a woman he hired tried to spread a false story in the Washington Post. Jamie Phillips, a member of Project Veritas, told the Post that Alabama Republican candidate for the US Senate Judge Roy Moore – whose campaign was rocked by multiple allegations of his relationships with underage girls – had it. pregnant when she was a teenager.

The Post exposed the ruse in a story that included a video of his reporter confronting Phillips about his deception.

Other speakers announced at the Siena event include Christian Ragosta, field coordinator for the National Rifle Association; Austin Petersen, a libertarian political candidate; Nico Perrino, communications director of the Foundation for the Rights of the Individual in Education; Kassy Dillon, founder of the Lone Conservative website;

Free speech conferences have been organized by conservative academic groups across the country, particularly Turning Point USA. Collegiate sections of groups often invite controversial right-wing speakers in to draw attention to their activities and push the boundaries of acceptable discourse in a given academic setting.

Last September, UCLA canceled Free Speech Week after the college’s Turning Point USA chapter invited conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, a former member of the Breitbart media empire criticized for his bashing of feminists and Muslims , among others. The invitation led to numerous protests from groups on campus as well as outside progressive organizations.

Emails to the organizers of the Siena event were not immediately returned.

Siena College spokeswoman Lisa Witkowski said the event was approved by the college’s student life administration. It’s coordinated by the student groups, and Witkowski said she didn’t know what the speakers at the event would be talking about specifically or the titles of their speeches.

According to a conference registration page, it is only open to current Siena students, faculty and staff. Those attending the event must show Siena ID at the door.

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