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Richard Spencer Supporter Sues Univ. of Cincinnati Over Security Fees

The man who filed the lawsuit claims the University of Cincinnati is violating Richard Spencer’s right to free speech.

The man responsible for inviting white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on several college campuses is suing the University of Cincinnati for requiring him to pay $10,833 in security fees.

Cameron Padgett is claiming the university is violating Spencer’s freedom of speech by forcing his group to pay such a high cost. He is seeking $2 million in damages and a court order lowering the school’s fee.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 8, also alleges the school is discriminating against right wing speakers because of the expected protests to the event led by people it refers to as “left wing extremists.”

University officials responded to the lawsuit by defending their decision and assuring the public they adhere to free speech.

“However, Spencer was not invited or sponsored by any member of the university community, and like other non-sponsored speakers, he must pay a fee to rent university space,” university spokesman Greg Vehr said. “This includes a security fee. The fee assessed is a mere fraction of the costs we anticipate incurring as a result of this event, but we hold firm in our efforts to respect the principles of free speech while maintaining safety on campus.”

Padgett’s History With Richard Spencer Events

Padgett has been at the heart of the ongoing controversy at public colleges and universities over free speech. The 29-year-old graduate student at Georgia State University has invited Spencer to speak at many schools, suing and threatening to sue the schools that either deny his speaking requests outright or seek to impose a large security fee.

In May of last year, Auburn University agreed to pay Padgett $29,000 in legal fees and was forced to allow Spencer to speak on campus after a federal judge determined the school’s decision to cancel a Spencer speech was unconstitutional.

When the University of Florida moved to block Spencer from speaking, Padgett threatened to sue the school. The university eventually relented and allowed the event to be held as scheduled. It cost UF $500,000 in security fees.

A key part of Padgett’s argument in the University of Cincinnati lawsuit is that Spencer was scheduled to speak during a vacation week in March when students were not expected to be on campus.

The fee for renting the room is just $500.

About the Author

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Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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