BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Republican students at Binghamton University say they’re being punished by the Broome County Republican committee for not falling in line with party leadership.

Logan Blakeslee is the Vice President of the BU College Republicans.

He says the local Republican committee had pledged the group first a $1,500 and later a $2,500 grant to fund a guest speaker on campus, Daniel Di Martino, who is scheduled to speak on April 24th.

However, Blakeslee says he received a phone call from Broome GOP Chair Benji Federman following the Republican Petition Night Party on March 30th.

According to Blakeslee, Federman told him that the donation was being rescinded because Blakeslee had upset a lot of party leaders by having been seen speaking with Broome County District Attorney Mike Korchak at the event.

Korchak is locked in a contentious primary battle with local attorney Paul Battisti.

Blakeslee alleges that Federman told him he was not being a team player and that he should fall in line behind Battisti whom party leaders support.

Blakeslee calls that deeply insulting and against his core beliefs as a Republican.

“At the moment, we’re doing everything that we can to ensure that people are aware that it seems as if the party leadership doesn’t care about the will of the voters. And by doing this, I feel as though they’re doing a huge disservice to younger voters and pushing away young people from the Republican Party.”

Korchak says he’s outraged but not surprised.

He says this is emblematic of party leadership’s practice of choosing candidates and then strong-arming party members to back them.

“Get in line, do as you’re told, and keep your mouth shut or you’re going to be punished. That’s not the American way. That’s not a democracy, that’s more of a Soviet-style approach to politics. It’s very troubling that our local Republican leaders would do this to a group of young, eager students who want to get involved in the process and want to make the community better.”

Federman denies ever having promised the grant to the club and says they have no proof that he did.

He says he offered to arrange a meeting with a local donor but that meeting never happened.
And he insists that the party is neutral when it comes to primary races.

In fact, he says the reason he called Blakeslee on March 30th was to caution him about the impression of impropriety for speaking with Korchak because Blakeslee is a member of the county committee.

The College Republicans say it’s too late now to cancel Di Martino, so they’ve launched a GoFundMe to raise the money, which hasn’t yet received any pledges.

Blakeslee says the college club endorsed Battisti 4 years ago but was planning to stay out of the fray this go-round.

Ironically, he says the actions of party leadership have only made the students more likely to support Korchak.