What would you be prepared to do in pursuit of political power?
Two women are accusing senior members of the College Republican national leadership of asking them to fabricate sexual assault allegations against a male member to sink his candidacy for a leadership position with the organization.
The College Republican National Committee (CRNC) is the 129-year-old organization for Republican college and university students. Its significant past members include President Calvin Coolidge, Karl Rove, Paul Ryan and Roger Stone.
Courtney Britt, the recently-elected chair of the CRNC, ran against Clay Smith for south regional vice chair in 2019. At the time, Britt was serving as chair of the Virginia Federation while Clay ran the Arkansas Federation.
Sources in the CRNC told The Spectator that then-national chairman Chandler Thornton threw his support behind Britt to groom her as his eventual successor. Britt was relatively unknown among College Republicans before her candidacy. The election was contentious and riddled with accusations of election fraud, yet Britt ended up winning by six votes.
Now, two former female College Republicans claim that a member of the organization’s national leadership asked them to accuse Smith of sexual assault, ostensibly to swing the election for Britt.
In July 2019, the 63rd Biennial Convention of College Republicans took place at the Washington DC Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Both women, speaking to The Spectator under the condition of anonymity, claim Benjamin Rajadurai, then the CRNC’s executive director, asked them to fabricate allegations against Smith on behalf of Thornton.
One night during the convention, before Britt had secured her victory against Smith, one of the women says Rajadurai invited her to his hotel room. Earlier in the night, she had an argument with Rajadurai during a reception party, which she says left her ‘profusely sobbing’. When the pair met in Rajadurai’s hotel room, the woman says Rajadurai apologized before stepping away to answer a phone call from Thornton on the other side of the room. During the call, the woman claims she heard Rajadurai ask Thornton, ‘Should I have [her name] or [the other woman’s name] do it?’ After the phone call ended, the woman says Rajadurai asked her if she would accuse Smith of sexual assault and visit Smith in his hotel room later that night. The woman says she began to cry and refused to take part in the scheme.
‘I said absolutely not. I will not be doing that. It’s unacceptable. That is not how you win elections,’ she told The Spectator. ‘At one point, I said, “How can our party claim what the Democrats did to Justice Kavanaugh was so horrible when you’re trying to do what you’re accusing the Democrats of doing?”‘
During the Kavanaugh Senate hearings, the CRNC and their state federations had issued support for the judge on social media.
The woman told The Spectator that after she had shown zero interest and appeared visibly upset, Rajadurai dropped the topic and did not pursue it in conversation any further. The woman said that she never had any sexual relationship with Smith.
Screenshots of a text conversation between Rajadurai and the woman on May 15, 2021, show Rajadurai admitting that he and Thornton had tried to ‘me too’ Smith. Rajadurai goes on to apologize to the woman for asking her to participate.
BR: The part that got out. That we tried to me too clay kinda sucks
W: well its not wrong
BR: That was a private convo between me and Chandler and it ultimately went no where
W: that was one of the most painful and hurtful things you’ve ever done to me…just as an FYI. like I think about that almost every day
BR: We were angry but we never tried do anything with it. I’m so sorry you heard it. I regret it every day
W: your best case scenario was that it actually happened. I never felt more worthless in my life
BR: No I was a piece of shit for it. To this day I regret it. I can’t imagine how it made you feel
Later in the text conversation, Rajadurai apologizes to the woman, saying ‘If I did I’m sorry.’ Rajadurai claims he didn’t remember asking her to accuse Smith of sexual assault, but says ‘I could see myself having done that’.
The woman said that one of the reasons she did not come forward earlier was because Rajadurai had openly bragged about his ability to ‘ruin people’s lives’.
‘When you’re in a situation where the leadership openly brags about ruining people’s lives and careers, you don’t think speaking out is ever an option,’ she told The Spectator. She claims that Rajadurai and former CRNC co-chairman Tom Ferrall had mentioned ‘all the time’ about how they could blackball people in their state’s politics and cut anyone off from the organization.
A second woman told The Spectator that Rajadurai asked her to accuse Smith of sexual assault at the same convention. She claims he made this offer on behalf of Smith’s opponent, Courtney Britt, and her backer Chandler Thornton.
While leaving the bathroom outside the convention floor, the second woman says she ran into Rajadurai in the hotel hallway. She says Rajadurai first pitched the proposal to her as a ‘joke’ with a group of people present.
The woman says Rajadurai told her to invite Smith to party with her that night so she could get him inebriated. Supposedly, the plan was for the woman to accuse him of sexual assault the following day. She immediately rejected the proposal.
The woman also said that she had never had a sexual relationship with Smith — and she claimed to The Spectator that Thornton and Britt were well aware of Rajadurai’s plan.
‘They wanted me to get him drunk and then accuse him,’ she said. ‘They wanted dirt on him. Why else would you do that if they didn’t want to win?’
Rajadurai denied the accusations from both women. When The Spectator asked about his text conversations between him and one of the women, he said, ‘I don’t remember that, and I deny that as well.’ Rajadurai said that neither Thornton nor Britt had ever asked him to help fabricate sexual assault allegations against Smith.
Former CRNC treasurer Ty Seymour offered confirmation of the first woman’s allegations. Seymour claims Rajadurai had told him about asking a woman in his hotel room to accuse Smith of sexual misconduct, with permission from Thornton. Seymour said Rajadurai expressed remorse for his role in the scheme during a private conversation in February 2021.
‘He definitely was more regretful about it back then,’ Seymour told The Spectator.
The purported attempt to derail Smith’s campaign has circulated as a rumor within the CRNC for the past two years. It was well known enough that when Britt was campaigning to replace Thornton as national chairman in 2021, she denied any involvement.
‘I have never myself made or directed anyone else to make false allegations of sexual misconduct against anyone,’ Britt said in a statement in May. She claimed allegations of her involvement were ‘baseless, slanderous and fundamentally sexist’.
For weeks, I have addressed these defamatory lies on an individual basis, but the rise in anonymous social media accounts led by keyboard warriors has warranted a public response.
I understand this is a long statement, but I encourage you to read it to get the facts. https://t.co/3qhz3oYdzD
— Courtney Hope Britt (@seabritt) May 14, 2021
But during the 2021 national convention, Seymour gave a searing speech in which he accused Thornton’s national board of corruption and bribery. He told the audience he had witnessed members of the board attempt to manufacture false charges of sexual assault to bring down political rivals. Seymour confirmed the accusations of the women who spoke to The Spectator are what he was referring to.
‘I’ve had CRs of my own be asked to fake sexual assault allegations against other members and political opponents in CR races,’ Seymour said. ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and I want to thank Chandler Thornton, our national chairman, and Courtney Britt, the candidate for national office, for affirming that belief.’
Seymour was a vocal supporter of Judah Waxelbaum, Britt’s electoral rival, during the 2021 race to replace Thornton as the new national chairman. The Spectator attempted to speak to Thornton and Britt about what if anything they knew about Rajadurai’s alleged efforts to have Smith falsely accused. Thornton and Britt did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The allegations have surfaced in the wake of Britt’s controversial victory as chair of the CRNC. State federations, including New York, Texas and Florida, are challenging the election’s legitimacy because only around 60 percent of the College Republican chapters were allowed to vote. In the lead- up to the election, Thornton oversaw the disqualification of several College Republican federations over minor technicalities. Email correspondence obtained by the National Review between Thornton and Case Western University professor Jonathan Adler suggests Thornton applied the rules unequally to ‘ensure Britt’s victory’ over Waxelbaum in Ohio.
As a result, state federations such as New York and Mississippi have officially seceded from the CRNC. Texas intends to follow suit later this month. The California and Florida federations are also ‘seriously considering’ secession. The rift would put into question the future of the CRNC and may result in the creation of a competing national GOP college organization.
Several former College Republicans credit the recent electoral drama and the constant political backstabbing as reasons for their departure. One member of the CRNC national board told The Spectator the main problem with the organization is that too many leaders ‘think they’re in House of Cards‘.