GOP legislator protests Moore’s university appearance

RICHMOND (AP) – A conservative Republican state legislator is challenging George Mason University’s plan to pay “Fahrenheit 9-11” director Michael Moore to speak on campus five days before the election.

“How can GMU justify a $35,000 payment for any college speaker,” Del. Dick Black, R-Loudoun, asked in a letter dated Tuesday to the university’s president, Alan G. Merten.

“Profligate spending for liberal speakers sets a tone for slipshod financial practices permeating the university system. Tax money is being spent poorly, and for partisan purposes,” wrote Black, who has one of the General Assembly’s most conservative voting records.

Moore’s film, still playing in theaters, criticizes and ridicules President Bush’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and his decision to go to war with Iraq. Republicans have denounced the film as blatant anti-Bush propaganda.

Moore is scheduled to discuss “Fahrenheit 9-11” on GMU’s campus in Fairfax Oct. 28. University spokesman Daniel Walsch said Moore planned to screen clips from the film, and the event would be open to the public.

The election is Nov. 2.

Black urged Merten to reconsider the university’s “lavish payment” to Moore or to cancel the appearance.

Walsch said the university is reviewing its contract with Moore but he would not discuss terms of the contract, the size of the payment or options the university is considering. GMU brings several prominent speakers to its campus each year, he said.

“Right now, we hope Michael Moore will come,” Walsch said. “We hope to have things resolved in the next few days. As a public university, we will not misappropriate any kind of public money for this or for any event.”

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