The Massachusetts Republican Party has written to Harvard, demanding that they refuse to pay Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren for teaching one class twice a week this fall on contract law. Nate Little, executive director of the state GOP, wrote in a letter to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust:
By restoring her to the faculty, even though she has now formed a federal election committee and is actively campaigning, the university is establishing a bad precedent for academic appointments. Of equal concern is that Harvard runs the risk of jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. As a non-profit charitable institution, Harvard is prohibited from taking a position on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate. Your payment of a salary to Professor Warren causes reasonable-minded people to conclude that Harvard is supportive of her candidacy.
By this logic, anyone running for office who holds a job is being illegally financed by their employer. And the only way Harvard might conceivably jeopardize its tax-exempt status would be by doing the bidding of the Republican Party and punishing a professor for seeking public office. If we allowed this kind of reasoning to prevail, only millionaires of the Mitt Romney variety would ever be able to run for public office. But maybe that’s the Massachusetts GOP’s model for public life.