Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wheat's Pitch in Packets Touches off Slu Debate

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wheat's Pitch in Packets Touches off Slu Debate

Article excerpt

When St. Louis University's 1,000 new freshmen opened their student orientation packets last week, they found information about campus services plus the usual pitches from nearby restaurants and banks.

The students also got something else: Democrat Alan Wheat's campaign pitch for the U.S. Senate.

That's touched off a campus debate about ethics at this prominent private university.

The campus newspaper is expressing outrage at school officials for distributing partisan political material.

Four students on Thursday sent a formal complaint against Wheat to the Federal Election Commission in Washington. The complaint contends that the federal ban against corporate aid to congressional candidates applies to private universities.

The university and Wheat's campaign both deny they did anything wrong or broke any laws.

St. Louis University said Friday that it would have done the same for any of Wheat's opponents - or any other candidate for any office.

It's just that nobody else ever asked, said university assistant vice president Julie Saker, who oversees freshman orientation.

Wheat's campaign did not make a specific request to St. Louis University to put Wheat's campaign literature in student packets, said campaign spokesman Alex Sachs.

Instead, the campaign simply asked SLU officials how Wheat could make a pitch to students. "We're targeting young voters and young potential voters who may not be registered," Sachs said.

Republican Senate nominee John Ashcroft declined to comment Friday, saying only that it was up to the FEC to investigate the matter. But Ashcroft's campaign manager, David Ayres, said they would never put campaign literature in student packets. "That's not the kind of behavior we condone," Ayres said.

William Fronczak, editor of The University News, the student newspaper, says he believes SLU officials acted out of naivete. …

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