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Harvard Kennedy School removes New York congresswoman from advisory panel over election comments

In this image from video, US Representative Elise Stefanik speaks as the House reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Arizona after protesters stormed into the Capitol on Jan. 6.Associated Press

The Harvard Kennedy School has removed US Representative Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, from the Senior Advisory Committee of its Institute of Politics, citing her unfounded comments about voter fraud in the November presidential election.

Douglas W. Elmendorf, dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, confirmed the removal of Stefanik in a note to committee members that was posted to the Kennedy School’s website. It comes as the nation continues to reckon with last week’s violence at the US Capitol that left five people dead after a Trump-incited mob stormed the building in an effort to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s November victory.


Elmendorf wrote that he asked Stefanik to step aside from the committee after listening to students and alumni and consulting with colleagues at Harvard, as well as reading public materials.

“My request was not about political parties, political ideology, or her choice of candidate for president,” Elmendorf wrote. “Rather, in my assessment, Elise has made public assertions about voter fraud in November’s presidential election that have no basis in evidence, and she has made public statements about court actions related to the election that are incorrect. Moreover, these assertions and statements do not reflect policy disagreements but bear on the foundations of the electoral process through which this country’s leaders are chosen.”

The reaction from Stefanik was swift.

She said in a statement that it’s “a rite of passage and a badge of honor to join the long line of leaders who have been boycotted, protested, and canceled by colleges and universities across America. The decision by Harvard’s administration to cower and cave to the woke Left will continue to erode diversity of thought, public discourse and ultimately the student experience.”

Last Wednesday evening, after the mob had torn through the Capitol, Stefanik delivered a speech on the congressional floor in which she continued to maintain the November election was marred by fraud.


“This has been a truly tragic day for America,” Stefanik said, according to a transcript of her remarks posted to her official website. “And we all join together in fully condemning the dangerous violence and destruction that occurred today in our Nation’s Capitol.”

But she went on, the transcript said, to allege that “in Pennsylvania, the State Supreme Court and Secretary of State unilaterally and unconstitutionally rewrote election law eliminating signature matching requirements,” and that in Georgia “there was unconstitutional overreach when the Secretary of State unilaterally and unconstitutionally gutted signature matching for absentee ballots and, in essence, eliminated voter verification required by state election law.”

She also cited what she said were issues in Wisconsin and Michigan, and in a prior statement issued Jan. 4 said she planned to object to “certain contested electors” in an effort to “protect our democratic process.”

Elmendorf, the Kennedy School dean, noted in his message to the advisory committee Tuesday that Stefanik has contributed mightily to the school’s mission.

“I made this request to Elise [that she step aside] mindful of her important contributions to the crucial mission of the Institute of Politics over a long period, beginning with her role as a student leader (she was in the class of 2006) and continuing to her mentoring students and strengthening the IOP’s programming in many ways,” Elmendorf wrote. “I know that we are grateful for her long and committed service.”


Stefanik, meanwhile, said Tuesday that she’ll continue advocating for free speech rights.

“The Ivory Tower’s march toward a monoculture of like-minded, intolerant liberal views demonstrates the sneering disdain for everyday Americans and will instill a culture of fear for students who will understand that a conservative viewpoint will not be tolerated and will be silenced,” she said. " ... I relish the opportunity to stand up for freedom of speech and freedom of thought on college campuses across America.”

Her ouster from the committee follows a strongly worded editorial that recently ran in The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, in which the authors chided Stefanik and two other members of Congress with Harvard ties, US Senator Ted Cruz and US Representative Brian Mast, Republicans of Texas and Florida respectively, for their roles as “coup voters” casting doubt on Biden’s win.

“Though there is no single definition of what a Harvard student ‘should’ be, Cruz, Stefanik, and Mast provide a clear portrait of the prestige Harvard can confer being used as it absolutely should not be: in the relentless pursuit of political influence at a glaring cost to morality,” the Crimson editorial said. “The authority Harvard confers should not be used to peddle unfounded conspiracies designed to undermine faith in our elections. Harvard students should not be glowering threats to American democracy. In other words, Cruz, Mast, and Stefanik exemplify the worst of what we could be.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at