- On Monday, Politico released an investigation into Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. where dozens of current and former employees accused Falwell of making shady deals to benefit him and his family and of instilling a “culture of fear” at the school.
- 24 hours after the report went live, Falwell went on The Hill.tv to announce that he had contacted the FBI to look into what he called “an attempted coup” allegedly orchestrated by members of the Liberty board of trustees.
- Falwell accused colleagues of stealing emails and sharing them with reporters to damage his reputation. The Liberty president claimed that it was partially motivated because of his strong support for President Donald Trump.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Earlier this week, Politico released a searing investigation into Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. which described a “culture of fear and self-dealing,” coursing through the school and highlighted documents that seemed to cast doubt on the conservative Christian’s pious image. Less than 24 hours later, Falwell went on the attack and announced he had contacted the FBI over what he called “an attempted coup” by members of the school’s board of trustees.
The original Politico report, which relied on emails and interviews from more than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials, detailed projects and real estate deals that personally benefited Falwell and his family. One of the officials with extensive knowledge of the school’s finances told Politico: “We’re [Liberty University] not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund.” The report described a setting where many at the university felt afraid to speak out against Falwell.
In his announcement on HillTV, Falwell claimed Liberty University owned the emails that were shared with reporters. Falwell said the former colleagues had stolen school property by sharing the emails and accused them of doing so with the intent of damaging Falwell’s reputation. Falwell, who is an avid supporter of President Donald Trump and a prominent leader in the Evangelical Christian political movement, claimed the alleged coup was partially motivated by his support for the president. The Liberty president’s father, Falwell’s father, Jerry Falwell Sr., founded the school and formed The Moral Majority, a major religious-political organisation in the 1970s.
“Our attorneys have determined that this small group of former board members and employees, they’re involved in a criminal conspiracy, are working together to steal Liberty property in the form of emails and provided them to reporters,” Falwell told The Hill.
Liberty University did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
In a heated interview with the Associated Press, Falwell cast aspersions on the Politico reporter who he referred to as “a little boy.”
“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 told AP.
Falwell initially denied being photographed out at a Miami club, but later walked back his claims
In addition to accusations of financial malpractice, the Politico report also found documents that seemed to detract from the Falwell family’s pious conservative Christian imagery. In one example, the report cited photos that were taken of him and his son, Trey Falwell, at a Miami nightclub. Falwell, the report alleges through multiple sources, tried to make those photos disappear. When the Politico reporter confronted Falwell with the photos, the university president reportedly said the journalist, “was terribly mistaken,” and said the photo may have been photoshopped.
One day after the report was released, Seth Browarnik, the owner of a Florida photography company called World Red Eye, published multiple photos allegedly showing Jerry and Trey Falwell at the WALL nightclub in Florida, along with captions rebutting Falwell’s accusations that the images were doctored.
“Just for the record, I never denied going into a club with my family to listen to music for about 30 minutes years ago. I only denied I asked anyone to scrub pics of me,” Falwell wrote.
Just for the record, I never denied going into a club with my family to listen to music for about 30 minutes years ago. I only denied I asked anyone to scrub pics of me. I never knew of any pics until a week ago DUH. LU’s lawyers and criminal authorities will go after the leakers
In another example, the report sights a 2013 email exchange where Falwell allegedly instructed a member of Liberty University’s IT department to fight for him in the comment section of local news articles that he felt portrayed him to negativity.
The recent reports are the most comprehensive expose in what has been a year filled with political controversy for the Liberty University president. Falwell made headlines in May when he accused detractors of orchestrating a “coup” against Donald Trump and said the president should have two more years added to his first term. Not long after, reports emerged of Michel Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, claiming to have helped Falwell bury a series of embarrassing personal photographs.
- Read more:
- Trump-backing Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. engineered a deal that gave his 23-year-old personal trainer an 18-acre sports facility
- Evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. to head Trump education task force
- Michael Cohen claims he helped handle racy ‘personal’ photos for Trump ally and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.