Former Gov. Rick Perry has criticized the recent student elections that gave his alma mater, Texas A&M, its first openly gay student president and called their legitimacy into question.
This month, Bobby Brooks became the leader of the school’s student government after the top vote-getter, Robert McIntosh, was disqualified due to accusations of voter intimidation and failure to report campaign expenses. (A student court later cleared McIntosh of intimidation charges.)
In an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle Perry said the situation “made a mockery of due process and transparency” and at worst “allowed an election to be stolen outright.”
He accused school administrators of gaming the system just so the school could have its first gay president.
“Brooks’ presidency is being treated as a victory for ’diversity,'” he wrote. “It is difficult to escape the perception that this quest for ’diversity’ is the real reason the election outcome was overturned. Does the principle of ’diversity’ override and supersede all other values of our Aggie Honor Code?”
Amy Smith, the school’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, denies the allegation, telling the Texas Tribune that the elections are run by students, not administrators.
“I would say that we respectfully disagree with his assessment,” she said, “and his understanding of the election rules of student body president elections doesn’t reflect the facts.”
“Honestly, we were just surprised to see that the Secretary of Energy would take the time to weigh in in detail,” she added.
Perry, a former Texas governor and failed presidential candidate, has a long history of attacking the LGBT community—comparing homosexuality to alcoholism, opposing the repeal of anti-sodomy statutes, and claiming he was “greatly disappointed” the Boy Scouts lifted its gay ban.
Texas Representative Joe Barton (R-Ennis) said he didn’t agree that McIntosh should have been disqualified, but he believes “if you have a student-run organization, and the students make decisions, then generally you should stand back and let the students make those decisions.”
Brooks is slated to take office April 21.