clearn.png
Saturday September 21st, 2019 5:25AM

Liberty's Falwell says he's target of 'attempted coup'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said Tuesday that he is asking the FBI to investigate what he called a "criminal" smear campaign orchestrated against him by several disgruntled former board members and employees.

Falwell told The Associated Press he has evidence that the group improperly shared emails belonging to the university with reporters in an attempt to discredit him. He said the "attempted coup" was partially motivated by his ardent backing of President Donald Trump.

Falwell, head of the nation's most high-profile evangelical college, was among the earliest Christian conservatives to endorse Trump's campaign.

His allegations come after the publication of a story in Politico Magazine on Monday that alleged Falwell "presides over a culture of self-dealing" at Liberty that has improperly benefited him and his family. The story cited unnamed sources described as current and former officials or Falwell associates.

"I'm not going to dignify the lies that were reported yesterday with a response, but I am going to the authorities and I am going to civil court," Falwell said, referring to the reporter as a "little boy."

He added that Liberty has hired "the meanest lawyer in New York," whom he declined to identify, to pursue civil cases. Falwell also declined to identify the people he said were spreading the emails.

Falwell is the son of the late evangelist, Liberty founder and Moral Majority leader the Rev. Jerry Falwell. He has come under increased scrutiny recently over his personal life and business investments, including his involvement in a Miami hostel.

The Hill first reported on Tuesday that Falwell had requested an FBI investigation.

Falwell said he contacted the FBI last week after he learned that reporters were reaching out to Liberty employees about the emails he insists were stolen.

"Liberty owns every single one of those emails. It's our property. They were working for us when they used our server. And our policies make it clear every email sent on our server is owned by Liberty and if anybody shares it with anybody outside Liberty, it is theft. And so that's the underlying crime," Falwell told AP in a phone interview.

An FBI spokeswoman declined comment.

Cybercrime expert Nick Akerman said Falwell's assertion of a criminal conspiracy is "totally insane." Akerman said the ex-board members and employees can share emails with reporters as long as they had authorized access to them and didn't hack into someone else's account. He said trade secrets are also protected under the law, but Liberty wouldn't be able to make a case there either.

"I don't think any law enforcement agency is going to be interested in this one," said Akerman, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney and former federal prosecutor.

Liberty, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, was founded in 1971 by Falwell's father with just 154 students. It now boasts an enrollment of more than 100,000, including those in its massive online education program. It has become an influential hub of conservative politics, frequented by candidates courting evangelical voters.

Falwell was an early and ardent Trump supporter, which created a rift on campus during the presidential campaign and has sparked controversy since.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Blast heard near US Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 anniversary
A large explosion has rocked Afghanistan's capital near the U.S. Embassy in the early hours of the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States
4:36PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Liberty's Falwell says he's target of 'attempted coup'
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says he's asking the FBI to investigate what he called a "criminal" smear campaign orchestrated against him by several disgruntled former board members and employees
4:33PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Apple unveils a cheaper iPhone and pricing for streaming TV
Apple expected to reveal relatively minor changes to iPhone line-up amid sales slump that raises the stakes riding on an upcoming video service
4:33PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
N Carolina special election tests Trump, 2020 GOP prospects
Republicans hope an 11th-hour rally with President Donald Trump will boost them to a special election victory in a GOP-friendly House district in North Carolina, where Dan Bishop faces Dan McCready
3:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
Pope says US critics use 'rigid' ideology' to mask failings
Pope Francis said Wednesday he wasn't afraid of schism in the U.S. Catholic Church led by his conservative critics, but says he prays that it doesn't happen
3:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
Italy's new pro-EU govt wins vote, now faces 2020 budget
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte's new government has won its second and final mandatory confidence vote in Parliament, now must come up with a 2020 budget
3:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Blast heard near US Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 anniversary
A large explosion has rocked Afghanistan's capital near the U.S. Embassy in the early hours of the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States
4:36PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Apple unveils a cheaper iPhone and pricing for streaming TV
Apple expected to reveal relatively minor changes to iPhone line-up amid sales slump that raises the stakes riding on an upcoming video service
4:33PM ( 7 minutes ago )
SC to consider abortion ban; bill faces uncertain future
A small group of state senators are holding a hearing over whether South Carolina should follow the lead of other states and ban nearly all abortions
4:31PM ( 8 minutes ago )
The Latest: Removing overturned ship could take months
Coast Guard: Removing overturned ship near Georgia port could take months
4:28PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Democrats will try to block Trump's border wall maneuver
Senate Democrats are moving to block President Donald Trump from transferring money from military base construction projects to pay for new fences along the U.S.-Mexico border
3:52PM ( 47 minutes ago )