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Political Donations: President Arnn leads staff, faculty

Members of Hillsdale College’s faculty and staff have donated nearly $36,000 to political cam­paigns in the last four years, according to public campaign records provided through the Federal Election Com­mision. College President Larry Arnn con­tributed more than $23,000 by himself.

“I donate to people I like,” Arnn said in an email. He added that most of his political donations are personal and not related to the college. The only college-related donations he makes are to Hillsdale graduates running for political office, he said.

Arnn’s most sub­stantial campaign donation — nearly $5,500 — have been to Republican Con­gressman Tim Walberg, who rep­resents Hillsdale County. Arnn also gave $2,500 to Mitt Romney’s 2012 pres­i­dential campaign. He  gave $1,750 to John McCain’s pres­i­dential campaign in 2008. Though he made sub­stantial financial con­tri­butions to both GOP pres­i­dential can­didates, Arnn was not asked by either campaign to endorse its candidate.

Vice President for Strategic Mar­keting Christopher Bachelder, who also con­tributed $2,500 to Romney’s pres­i­dential campaign, said that he has been con­tributing less to political cam­paigns in recent years, but that the Romney ticket encouraged him to donate more.

“When Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as a running mate, I was very impressed with the choice and wanted to register my approval, so my wife and I went to the campaign website and made donations on that Saturday,” Bachelder said.

Other members of the college’s staff try to take a more personal approach to their political donations.

“If I know them, and they ask, I donate money,” said Pro­fessor of Political Economy Gary Wolfram, another top college con­tributor. “I’m more likely to donate time on public policy issues.”

Wolfram went on to say that he holds biennial fundraisers for Michigan Supreme Court justices at his home, but stressed the casual nature of the get-togethers.

“It’s just a low-cost thing, you know, $50 to $75 per person. It’s mainly a gathering of friends. If they wanted, they could have made more at a $600-per-person dinner in Oakland County,” Wolfram said. “We try to make it about the cost of a nice night out. It’s going to a good cause, and it’s a reason for everyone to get together, and the justices love it.”

Pro­fessor of Physics Ken Hayes, who gave $250 to Barack Obama’s 2008 pres­i­dential campaign, declined to comment on his political donation record, stressing the importance of sep­a­rating his work from his politics.

“My personal political views are irrelevant to my job as physics pro­fessor, so nothing is to be gained by dis­cussing them,” he said in an email.

Other staff con­tributors to political cam­paigns include Associate Pro­fessor of History David Raney and Pro­fessor of Politics Mickey Craig, who both donated to Walberg; Legal Counsel & Admin­is­trative Director John McFarland, who donated to Romney’s pres­i­dential campaign; Academy Head­master Kenneth Calvert, who donated to the Republican National Com­mittee, and former Lecturer of Edu­cation and English Melinda vonSydow, who donated to Barack Obama’s 2012 pres­i­dential campaign.