April 04, 2006

Columbia Controversy Continues

In its response to my March 24 New York Sun op-ed (free abbreviated version here) exploring Columbia University’s Memogate connection, the university focused on the Center for Individual Freedom’s (CFIF) ethics allegations and complaint against Olati Johnson, a newly-appointed Columbia law professor and the subject of my op-ed. This has prompted a response from CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella in today’s New York Sun (below) and, in more detail, on the organization’s website. As an aside, I find it strange that Columbia Law Professor Avery Katz’s response mentions CFIF so many times, given that my op-ed did not mention CFIF or its ethics complaint against Johnson. As I explained in my own response to Columbia, the “allegations” in my op-ed are based entirely on Johnson’s own words in her Memogate memo.

New York Sun
April 4, 2006
Letters to the Editor

'Bollinger on the Spot'

In the controversy over Columbia Law School's awarding of a faculty position to Olati Johnson, Dean David M. Schizer wrote: "The ethics charge [against Johnson] … arose in a highly partisan atmosphere and involved many disputed issues of fact that were never adjudicated …" ["Bollinger on the Spot," Letters, March 28, 2006].

The Center for Individual Freedom researched, wrote, and published the original news article regarding Olati Johnson's ethical lapse and subsequently filed the ethics complaint against her.

In two years since first publication, no one, including Ms. Johnson, has disputed any fact we disclosed, unless such assertions were made in private discussions of which we have no knowledge. Ms. Johnson was specifically offered the opportunity to respond to the article, which she ignored. We stand by every word written, every fact disclosed.

Dean Schizer's point about "highly partisan atmosphere" eludes us. The U.S. Senate is highly partisan by its nature, which excuses no deviation from ethics by anyone employed there.

We would remind Dean Schizer that the first person to recognize the ethical issue raised by Ms. Johnson's actions was Ms. Johnson herself in her original memo to Senator Kennedy.

JEFFREY MAZZELLA
President, Center for Individual Freedom

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