The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Scaramucci resigns from Tufts board after threatening to sue student

Anthony Scaramucci stepped down Nov. 28 from a Tufts University board. (Ruben Sprich/Reuters)

Anthony Scaramucci resigned Tuesday from a board at Tufts University after threatening to sue a student who had written an unflattering opinion piece about him in the student newspaper.

Scaramucci, who was briefly a spokesman for President Trump, is an alumnus of the university and began serving on the board of advisers to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 2016.

This fall, a petition circulated among students, alumni and faculty, asking that Scaramucci be removed from the board because of concerns he had displayed poor judgment on several public occasions. A student at Fletcher, Camilo Caballero, wrote two opinion pieces for the student newspaper, the Tufts Daily, this month saying Scaramucci was unfit for the role.

Tufts postpones Scaramucci talk after he threatens to sue a student

“If his credentials lie in the billions of dollars he made on Wall Street, then we have, as a school, abandoned our principles and vision,” Caballero wrote.

An attorney retained by Scaramucci sent a letter to Caballero and to the editor in chief of the paper, Gil Jacobson, demanding a retraction and an apology, and threatening a defamation suit.

The attorney, Samuel Lieberman, and Scaramucci did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Scaramucci Post printed the email Scaramucci sent earlier this month to Carter Banker, the Fletcher student who started the petition. The email addressed several criticisms.

“While my political views may be objectionable to you, contrary to your accusation of hypocrisy, I have maintained a consistent and inclusive political ideology,” he wrote.

“If Mr. Caballero disapproves of the financial industry, he should say so. But I am proud of my Wall Street career. I have done right by my clients and investors. I have created a significant number of well-paying jobs. My employees are hard-working and loyal because I am generous and supportive in kind.”

He encouraged Banker to engage with people who have diverse political ideologies and said he hoped to begin a mutually beneficial conversation.

Banker said Tuesday: “It’s not about Trump.” She said she was concerned about the nature of some of Scaramucci’s public behavior and how that reflected poorly on the institutions with which he is associated, she said.

She said she was pleased Scaramucci would no longer serve on the board but sorry it had ended on a sour note. “I’m sad that it turned so personal and nasty.”

Lieberman, Scaramucci’s attorney, said in an email Monday evening that Caballero had presented as fact that Scaramucci is an unethical opportunist, when there is no basis for that assertion. Scaramucci will vigorously defend his integrity against false allegations, Lieberman wrote: “Mr. Caballero can end this now by apologizing for the statements where he crossed the line.”

The ACLU of Massachusetts sent a response Tuesday afternoon to Lieberman. “Mr. Scaramucci’s threat is without merit,” said Matthew Segal, legal director for the ACLU of Massachusetts. He said Caballero’s opinion pieces are constitutionally protected speech. “That’s why we have been so honored and proud to represent Camilo in this effort,” said Segal, adding that it’s important for people to exercise their First Amendment rights and not be silenced by threats and intimidation.

On Tuesday, Caballero sounded elated. Speaking on a conference call with lawyers from the ACLU of Massachusetts, who stepped in to help him, Caballero said the campus was joyful at news of Scaramucci’s resignation.

“What a difference a day can make,” he said. “One day I was writing an op-ed,” and just a few days later he had a team defending freedom of speech. “Talk about a civics class for the semester.”

As a child who came to the United States not knowing English, Caballero said, he developed a thick skin. The experience of writing in support of Banker’s petition and standing by his own opinion “reminded me of the things we need to continue fighting for in this country. To have the support of 240-plus students, faculty, alumni who wanted to stand on the right side of history — it was a phenomenally, overwhelmingly happy experience.”

The petition has gained additional signatures in recent days, growing to more than 300 supporters.

The Tufts Daily published Lieberman’s letter, along with links to the editorials, with all of the original text.

“Any article or opinion piece we put out can have consequences in the real world and we have to be prepared for a wide range of actionable consequences to happen as a result of what we put out,” said Jacobson, editor of the student newspaper. He said the opinion pieces remain unchanged on the website. 

University officials had invited Scaramucci to talk with students Monday evening but canceled the invitation after learning of Lieberman’s letter.

A message was sent to members of the Fletcher school community Tuesday, according to university spokesman Patrick Collins: “This morning, Anthony Scaramucci informed The Fletcher School that he is resigning his position on the school’s Board of Advisors, effective immediately. We thank Mr. Scaramucci for his past service to Tufts and wish him well.”

The notice was signed by the school’s dean, Adm. James Stavridis, and the provost and senior vice president of Tufts, David Harris.

ACLU of Massachusetts Response