There has been no shortage of controversy surrounding the Ron Paul inspired activist group Young Americans for Liberty since Cliff Maloney Jr took over as president of the organization. Fresh off his time as leader of the youth arm of the Rand Paul campaign, Cliff took over in May of 2016, and almost immediately became embroiled in controversy. Within only a couple of weeks of Cliff taking over at YAL, National Field Director Ty Hicks posted a message to the YAL Chapter Presidents group demanding that (due in part to his support for Trump) YAL chapters refrain from hosting Milo on campus. This message was framed as an official statement from YAL National.
Maloney ultimately retracted this due to the backlash surrounding the decision (though there is still controversy over whether that truly happened), yet this was only the beginning of a string of decision making which would compromise the ability of Young Americans for Liberty to effectively reach out to conservatives and libertarians who supported the Donald Trump campaign. Just six months later YAL was again embroiled in a Trump related controversy involving Ty Hicks, after he stated that he did not see “how anyone could consciously vote for Donald Trump without some level of serious racial prejudice in their worldview”. This was in response to a story about vandalism of a black church which turned out to be a hoax. When The Liberty Conservative confronted YAL about this statement we were met with hostility and accusations of slander. As I pointed out in our piece on the promotion of Hicks after these statements were made, “Hicks has still not apologized despite repeated calls to do so (he was contacted prior to the publishing of this piece and has not responded to our request for comment), and even defended his statement at the time by attacking the author of the piece for daring to criticize a public statement he made as a leader of a student group. He characterized the publication of his bigoted statements as “slander”. Even after Trump’s election, even after the string of leftist abuse of conservatives that has surrounded the aftermath of it, and even after the very story Hicks cited in labeling all Trump supporters as racially prejudiced was proven to be false he has still refused to apologize for this incorrigible statement. How is such a statement defensible in an era where the majority of people who we hope to convert into our cause voted for Donald Trump?
Hicks was ultimately promoted to Executive Vice President, even after this disgraceful stunt, and his public position remains this since he has neither corrected, retracted or apologized for it.
When someone like Hicks makes repeated moves which compromise the ability of an organization to effectively reach out to potential recruits, and is promoted despite those repeated moves, it brings up serious questions as to whether the leadership of an organization is behaving with the best interests of that organization in mind. Those questions are now amplified significantly after it was brought to the attention of this author that Cliff Maloney was paid $12,000 by the Gary Johnson campaign according to their September 2016 FEC filing, as well as $11,000 in their October 2016 filing and $6,000 in their November 2016 filing, for a staggering total of $29,000. Maloney failed to disclose this five figure payment in several media appearances and social media posts in which either the subject of Trump or dissatisfaction with the two major parties came up. In fact, it seems that word has been kept completely quiet as to Maloney’s financial relationship with the Johnson/Weld campaign.
The number of questions this brings up is almost too many to count. The tone of Young Americans for Liberty shifted notably once Maloney took over, taking a far more anti Trump and pro third party attitude. Did this have anything to do with the five figure payment that a third party presidential candidate made to the new executive director? Those questions are only amplified by the outrageous handling of the situations involving Ty Hicks, who has still not apologized for his remarks about the racial prejudice of Trump supporters, nor publicly retracted them, and was promoted after making them. Why would the leader of an organization whose primary recruiting base is conservative and libertarian students fail to address such a serious display of hostility towards that recruiting base? Why would he reward a person who made such a statement? Cliff Maloney needs to address these issues instead of ignoring them and demonizing those who bring them up. This is a textbook conflict of interest, and it makes this author question whether or not the YAL network was pitched a narrative which was more attempt to get them to vote Gary Johnson than an attempt to grow the network.
Young Americans for Liberty is too important an organization to the liberty movement for these sorts of questions to continue to pop up, and at this point the onus is on Cliff Maloney to turn things around and get the organization back to the point where it was under Jeff Frazee, a time when we truly did “Make Liberty Win”. I get messages from YAL activists who are disillusioned far too often, and the general shift in the attitude of leadership has been a consistent source of complaint. In order to make YAL great again Cliff Maloney needs to answer the questions surrounding his decisions over the use of the YAL Network, and resolve to not make such decisions going forward. This organization has a huge role to play in the Trump era, where colleges are clamping down on free speech like never before, but it isn’t going to happen if the oppressed campus conservative doesn’t believe we are with them. Making it happen is worth a hell of a lot more than $29,000 from Gary Johnson.
Cliff Maloney Jr did not respond to multiple requests for comment.