Prof accuses conservative students of being funded by Russia
A biology professor at the University of Houston, Clear Lake told a conservative student group on campus that they are “probably receiving Russian funding.”
Video footage obtained by Campus Reform shows the professor, identified by students as Dr. Michael LaMontagne, confronting representatives of the local chapter of Turning Point USA and accusing them of receiving funds from the Russian government.
“You are probably receiving Russian funding,” the professor told the students. When he was informed that the chapter is a non-profit organization and does not receive financial support from Moscow, the professor continued to question the goals of the group.
“You are non-profit, but who is profiting from this?” he said. “I am educating you that this group here is advocating against the very institution that it's existing in—public education, higher education, federal funding for research—is advocating against national [organizations] like NASA…"
One student then interjected that the group also supports gun rights, to which the professor remarked, "at least you have the balls to show what you stand for.”
When the students pushed back against the professor’s arguments, asking him about waste in higher education, the academic asserted that there is almost no waste
“I know exactly. I am involved with it. I look at the budget—it's very little,” he said. “You know where the biggest waste is? It's in the military budget. Compared to everything else, it's the largest area, which I am not advocating against.”
According to Kristy Ybarra, a student who was tabeling for the group, the professor began the confrontation by pointing to TPUSA’s “big government sucks” sign and accusing the students of not supporting the military since it makes up a large portion of the federal government.
Ybarra added that the professor also accused the group of being anti-NASA since conservatives frequently argue that the organization should be funded through the private sector.
At one point in the video, LaMontagne weighed in on the issue of gun control and gun violence, stating that he does not support the Second Amendment “if it involved shooting kids in schools.”
Seconds later, the academic went on to ask about the AR-17, an exotic shotgun that he apparently had confused with the AR-15.
“What percentage of discharges of an AR-17 have been used is self defense?” he asked, at which point he was informed that the AR-17 was a weapon sold only briefly during the 1960’s.
“I’ve looked into this…and what we know for sure is that if guns were the solution to violence, we would have none in this country,” he said.
In an interview with Campus Reform, LaMontagne chose not to defend his claim about Russian funding, saying he was merely arguing that political organizations should make their donors public.
“First of all, I was unaware that I was being recorded,” he said. “I believe that's a violation of my privacy.”
When specifically asked if he still believes that the student organization is sponsored by the Russian government, LaMontagne said that he has “no idea, because I don’t know who funds Turning Point.”
“I didn’t make that claim in the public forum; I’m not stating that. I am debating that, but I am not stating that,” the profesor reiterated. “No, I am not claiming it. I am claiming that a campus organization that is presenting a political viewpoint has to make their donors public.”
When pressed again about his comments in the video, LaMontagne said he is “not a political investigator,” adding that the sources of funding “should be investigated by groups like you or by appropriate authorities life the Federal Election Commission.”