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Brandeis alum fired by Penn. GOP

Published: November 7, 2008
Section: Front Page


SCREENSHOT/Comedycentral.com

The political career of Brandeis alumna Bryan Rudnick ‘00, who was recently fired by the Pennsylvanian Republican Party for allegedly drafting an e-mail likening a vote for now president-elect Barack Obama to events that led up to the Holocaust, can be traced back to when he brought NRA president Charleton Heston to campus in March of 2000.

According to an Oct. 25 article by Ron Todt of the Associated Press, Rudnick’s e-mail was sent to an estimated 75,000 Jewish voters in Pennsylvania and told them that “Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008. Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let’s not make a similar one this year!”

As a conservative student in the late 90’s, Rudnick began his time at Brandeis by founding Freedom Magazine as a forum for conservatives on campus because “of an abundance of hypocritically liberal views on campus,” Rudnick wrote in an opinion piece in the third issue of the magazine.

The February 1998 piece was entitled “On this side…pulled from the left: liberal media as Big Brother at Brandeis.”

In the piece, Rudnick explains how he was not allowed to be published as a freshman in either the Justice or the Brandeisian, another publication on campus in 1998, because his piece, which discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “lacked integrity”—something he took to mean that the piece was too conservative.

“There was definitely a bias against conservatives on campus,” Rudnick said in a phone interview with The Hoot Monday night. “It starts with the administration and drills down to the faculty and students.”

Freedom Magazine appears in online lists of campus organizations until the 2002-2003 academic year.

Rudnick did not specify a cause for the magazine’s end, saying, “there wasn’t an interest in doing it anymore I guess;” however Hoot founder Igor Pedan ’05 said that the magazine was shut down for “violating several school rules.”

Almost all nine issues of the magazine, which can be found in the Brandeis archives, contained advertisements from the National Rifle Association.

In March of 2000, seven months after the last issue of Freedom Magazine was published, Rudnick, who founded the club Students for the Second Amendment on campus, invited NRA president Charleston Heston to campus.

While Rudnick declined to comment on Heston’s visit during his interview with The Hoot, saying that “it’s a long story,” the visit erupted in controversy when, according to a letter Rudnick wrote to the newspaper Massachusetts News, “On March 8th at a 3:15 p.m. meeting with myself, Michael Regunberg, Chris Clark, Stephanie Ruark and Roman Cermak, the Acting Director of Public Safety, Ed Callahan, requested Mr. Heston’s blood type. Again on March 10th, a student organizer of the event was called by Mr. Callahan to follow up as to whether or not we had inquired as to Mr. Heston’s blood type because it would need to be on reserve at the Waltham-Deaconess Hospital as a precaution.”

In the letter Rudnick also claims that the administration tried to censor Heston by requiring Freedom Magazine and Students for the Second Amendment to pay for one of the two metal detectors at the event along with an additional $6,000 dollars for security costs.

In response to the allegations, Executive Director of Media and Public affairs Dennis Nealon wrote to the same newspaper that “there has never been any discussion or mention from anyone in the administration regarding ‘blood.’”

Nealon also wrote that Brandeis “welcomes the visit of Mr. Heston.”

Coverage of Heston’s visit reached further than Massachusetts’s media and was the subject of a segment on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart entitled “Heston Tension” on March 28, 2000.

In the segment, which can still be viewed online, footage of the Brandeis campus is shown with Rudnick speaking in the background.

After Heston’s visit, Rudnick’s political career took off. In May of 2000, around the same time that he graduated, Rudnick founded The Massachusetts Citizens Alliance with fellow Freedom Magazine founder Jim Coutre.

The organization was responsible for bringing the Defense of Marriage Act to a state referendum in 2004, after three years of work, according to an article by Karen Crummy in the Boston Herald.

The Act would define marriage as a union between “one man and one woman” and would ban same-sex marriage and its legal equivalent, as well as block domestic partners from receiving various benefits.

In the article, Crummy writes that Rudnick maintained that the amendment, which ultimately failed, was “not against homosexuals but…instead about strengthening marriage.”

An editorial on MassNews.com dated March 22, 2002, corroborated that Rudnick’s then budding political career began with bringing Heston to Brandeis two years earlier.

“The students had to fight the politically correct establishment at Brandeis. It wanted to curtail their Freedom of Speech,” reads the editorial. “Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise when the two said they could bring the same enthusiasm to a Ballot Initiative so that the voters would be the ones to decide whether the state should make drastic changes in the institution of marriage.”

“All of the political pundits said they couldn’t do it,” the article stated. “But these two young men didn’t know the meaning of the words, ‘could not.’ They knew only youthful enthusiasm.”

Rudnick originally gained support for the Amendment from fellow Brandeis alumna and State Representative John Rogers ’87. By March 2002, however, Rogers had withdrawn his support after “much discussion and debate was created,” his Legislative Liaison Bill Rennie said in an interview with Justice reporter Emily Hyman in April of 2002.

Currently, Rudnick is the founder and CEO of the Alliance Strategies Group, a strategic planning, communications and development firm based in Boca Raton, FL.

He was employed by the Pennsylvania GOP as a strategic planner until this October, when he allegedly sent the e-mail warning “fellow Jewish voters” of the risk of a second holocaust if they voted for then senator Barack Obama.

In Todt’s article about Rudnick’s termination, Rudnick claims that he “had authorization from party officials” to send the e-mail; however Michael Barely, communications director for the Pennsylvania GOP, told the Associated Press that that was not the case.

Rudnick refused to comment on the e-mail in his interview with The Hoot; however, he did say, “a lot of my business is online and includes writing persuasive e-mails.”

Now that the election is over and Barack Obama has been elected President, Rudnick told The Hoot that he’s looking forward to the next election cycle.

While he is not sure of exactly what his future work will entail, it will include “helping candidates and organizations that want to influence public policy.”

And, he said, the candidates will “all be conservative.”