Owens Calls Out Taxpayer-Funded Discrimination Against Conservative Students

WASHINGTON — Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Chairman Burgess Owens (UT-04), Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairman Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL) sent a letter to Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation Executive Secretary Dr. Terry Babcock-Lumish after recent reports revealed that taxpayer-funded Truman Scholarships were disproportionately awarded to candidates who favor liberal causes at a ratio of more than 12:1 over conservative candidates.  

“Betraying its mission to produce the next generation of American leaders, the taxpayer-funded Truman Foundation has disproportionately skewed scholarship awards towards left-leaning candidates, discriminating against students based on their political beliefs,” said Rep. Owens. “Our committee has launched an immediate investigation into this blatant bias and egregious misuse of taxpayer dollars. Every American deserves fair consideration, regardless of political affiliation, and we are demanding a return to equal opportunity and meritocracy.”

In the letter, the lawmakers write: “Between 2021 and 2023, the Truman Foundation selected 182 Truman winners. Yet, despite the Truman Foundation’s claims that it ‘supports scholars from a wide range of perspectives, interests, and geographic areas,’ just six recipients espoused interest in a cause traditionally considered conservative-leaning. Not a single winner professed interest in causes such as protecting the rights of the unborn or defending the Second Amendment. By contrast, the Foundation selected at least 74 winners professing interest in a progressive cause.”

The lawmakers continue: “As you are aware, the Truman Foundation was established by Congress and is funded by taxpayers for the purpose of awarding ‘scholarships to persons who demonstrate outstanding potential for and who plan to pursue a career in public service.’ We refuse to believe that only liberal students demonstrate ‘outstanding potential’ in public service. As a publicly funded award charged with preparing the civic leaders of tomorrow, the Truman Scholarship should, at a bare minimum, be reflective of the country’s breadth of values, viewpoints, and interests.”

The lawmakers conclude by requesting additional information, including: 

  • What measures are you taking to ensure the Truman Scholarship truly “supports scholars from a wide range of perspectives”?
  • How do you ensure that Truman Finalist Selection Committee members and Regional Review Committee members do not discriminate against conservative students?
  • In a recent news article, you were quoted as saying that “the Truman Scholars selected are reflective of the pool of candidates before us. If students are not nominated or do not apply, we cannot select them.” Between 2021 and 2023, what percentage of your applicant pool advocated primarily for conservative causes?
  • What steps are you taking to recruit a more ideologically diverse pool of nominees?

To read the full letter, click here

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