Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr calls in FBI over ‘attempted coup’

Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr calls in FBI over ‘attempted coup’ September 11, 2019
Image via YouTube

AMIDST damning allegations that Liberty University in Virginia is run by its evangelical President, Jerry Falwell Jr, above, along tyrannical lines and that it’s no longer a school but ‘a real estate hedge fund’, Trump-lovin’ Falwell announced yesterday (Tuesday) that he is asking the FBI to investigate what he called ‘an attempted coup’ against him.

Trouble erupted the previous day when Politico carried an expose that alleged, among other things, that Falwell and his wife, Becki consolidated power at Liberty and that he presides over:

A culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains. Among the previously unreported revelations are Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy for loans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends.

Quotes from staff members in Brandon Ambrosino’s piece about a raft of dodgy dealings by Falwell and his cronies, include:

• We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.

• It’s a dictatorship. Nobody craps at the university without Jerry’s approval.

• Everybody is scared for their life. Everybody walks around in fear.

• Fear is probably his most powerful weapon.

• Someone’s gotta tell the freakin’ truth.

Alleging a “criminal” smear campaign orchestrated against him by several disgruntled former board members and employees, Falwell said he has evidence that the group improperly shared emails belonging to the university with reporters in an attempt to smear him.

He said the “attempted coup” was partially motivated by his ardent backing of Trump. Calling Ambrosino “a little boy”, he said:

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.

He added that Liberty – the world’s biggest Christian University – 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.

Image via YouTube

Falwell is the son of the late Baptist evangelist, Liberty founder and Moral Majority leader the Rev Jerry Falwell, above. When he went to meet Jesus in 2007 at the age of 73, many suggested he died of gluttony, that Baptists were prone to obesity, and that the Southern Baptist Convention stood for “stomach bigger than chest.”

Falwell Jr has come under increased scrutiny recently over his personal life and business investments, including his involvement in a Miami hostel.

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.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.

Cybercrime expert Nick Akerman, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney and former federal prosecutor, rubbished Falwell’s assertion of a criminal conspiracy, calling it “totally insane.”

He said the ex-board members and employees can share emails with reporters as long as they had authorised 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.

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 programme. 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.

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  • Given Trump’s current antipathy towards the FBI, which is shared by some of his followers, you’d think Falwell wouldn’t trust them.

  • barriejohn

    “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35 KJV)

  • nmgirl

    I tried yesterday to find the business structure of LU, but could not navigate the Virginia corporation commission website. I am curious to see how ownership of the school and its assets is structured. and what about the endowment, is that fallwells playtoy just like dt’s ‘charity’.

  • John Pieret

    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

    Nothin’ suspicious at all here … nope … but we got nothin’ to hide!

  • johnsoncatman

    “I own you! Don’t F**K with me!” says Jerry Falwell Jr. probably to anyone doubting his authoritah.

  • daved

    Given that the FBI probably won’t be interested anyway (since it’s not at all clear that a crime has been committed), I’d say it’s mostly a bullying tactic.

  • johnsoncatman

    Given what Falwell Jr. has done with impunity, he should be more afraid of what the FBI might find.

  • daved

    Guys like this become so sure of their own position they forget that things could cut the other way. Given that Liberty U is supposed to be a non-profit, the self-dealing aspects of this case might draw the attention of law enforcement. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

  • persephone

    “Stomach Bigger than Chest” is so appropriate. I watched Boy, Erased a while back, and that was the look on all the men in power in the church. It’s so common. Seeing it causes me to tense up, because it has such bad connotations.

  • I smell the usual Christian prosecution complex at work.

  • Brian Shanahan

    More like Falwell pretending he has a big member to swing around. The damage is done, and to be honest going big and going public with his response, Falwell has only made things worse for himself. If the authorities weren’t previously interested in the alleged revelations, they will be now.

  • Freethinker
  • Matt G

    And you wrote this article without mentioning any of the sex scandals. Which of course are totally false because conservative Christians are so morally upright in that area….

  • Mike Panic

    Photos of Falwell in some seedy nightclub have recently surfaced. I bet more will follow.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    LAMO, your sarcasm is unsurpassed.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    Oh, and they do love one another, such as other people’s husbands or other people’s wives, they are just one loving bunch. A bunch of hypocrites.

  • Michael Bean

    Much like Falwell, it has nothing to do with christianity.

  • This may be a huge problem for the whistleblowers. Remember that William Barr heads up the “Justice” Department (the FBI’s boss) and he is a fervent lawless loyalist to our unhinged and lawless Dictator wannabe president, and that president gives evangelicals (who, at least currently, mostly favor Falwell) anything they want in return for loyalty and votes. Whatever Trump decides to do, the FBI’s investigation could be “tailored” as it was in the investigation of Brat Kavanaugh. The FBI, in that case, was forbidden to talk to key witnesses.

  • Raging Bee

    Baby Falwell’s bluster doesn’t have to have any legal merit to cause lots of stress and financial problems for his whistleblowing critics. I hope at least a few secularists can offer them support.