- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Virginia Republican Party on Thursday demanded an ethics investigation into the University of Virginia’s top elections forecaster, Larry Sabato, over his tweets that they say display “bitter partisanship” in favor of Democrats.

State GOP Party chairman Rich Anderson sent a letter to University of Virginia president James Ryan alerting the school to the social media posts by Mr. Sabato, the founder and director of the university’s nonpartisan Center for Politics.

“A reasonable taxpaying citizen can readily conclude that Dr. Sabato is demonstrating the rankest form of bitter partisanship,” Mr. Anderson wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times. “In order to have faith in our institutions, it is essential that Virginians hold accountable those public employees and officials who violate institutional values, codes of conduct, and other guidelines of professional behavior.”

Mr. Sabato‘s campaign analysis and election prognostications are a staple of newspaper and TV news political coverage. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the University of Virginia, however, told The Times that “free expression and exchange of ideas is a core value” of the school.

“There is nothing in our Code of Conduct that limits University employees from engaging in expression that is protected under the First Amendment,” the spokesman said.

Mr. Anderson lists a series of tweets on Mr. Sabato‘s personal Twitter account from the fall of 2020 to July of 2021 that allegedly violate the university’s mission statement that encourages “the free and collegial exchange of ideas,” and upholding “distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect.”

The chairman also laid out alleged violations of the university’s ethics code for faculty and staff that “respects the rights, abilities, and opinions of all people.”

Among the tweets that Mr. Anderson listed as examples were several disparaging former President Donald Trump, particularly over his unproven claims of widespread voter fraud in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

“Cuckoo, cuckoo! Does the plush presidential suite at Walter Reed offer psychiatric treatments? Maybe time to helicopter Trump over again,” Mr. Sabato tweeted on Dec. 2 in response to a Washington Post article citing a 46-minute video of Trump discussing election fraud.

On June 2, Mr. Sabato responded to reports that alleged Mr. Trump believes he will be reinstated into office in the summer.

“Of course it’s true,” Mr. Sabato tweeted. “Trump, who governed on the edge of insanity for four long years, has gone over the edge. Yet millions of people and 90%+ of GOP members of Congress, still genuflect before this false god.”

Mr. Anderson also pointed to a July 7 tweet by Mr. Sabato which he claims “repeats Democratic talking points” in Virginia’s gubernatorial race.

Mr. Sabato tagged GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin in a Wednesday tweet tying him to the former president’s endorsement. Mr. Youngkin is challenging Democrat and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the race that’s been highly tracked by the Center for Politics.

“I wonder if @GlennYoungkin is still “honored” to have received Trump’s enthusiastic endorsement for VA Governor?,” Mr. Sabato tweeted, in response to a Guardian article that alleges Mr. Trump had praised Adolf Hitler in a meeting, according to a newly released book on the president by the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender.

Mr. Sabato founded the Center for Politics in 1998 and leads Mr. Sabato‘s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan newsletter and elections guide cited frequently in media outlets. He has roughly 193,000 Twitter followers.

Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Crystal Ball, said its pollsters and political scientists would not be deterred from jobs.

“We will continue to evaluate the Virginia gubernatorial race in a fair and objective manner, as we try to do with every race we cover,” he said in an email. “We realize that everyone isn’t going to always agree with the comments we make, but that’s understandable in politics. We appreciate having the ability to offer our analysis.”

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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