Harvard facing probe over Claudine Gay cover-up, censorship


Harvard’s powerful governing body is facing calls to be fired and a full-scale Congressional investigation into how it covered up allegations that university president Claudine Gay was a plagiarist, The Post has learned.

Republican lawmakers will “use every tool available,” including subpoena power, to examine how the 12-member Harvard Corporation protected Gay for weeks before she finally quit last week after a storm over her handling of antisemitism on campus and allegations she was a serial plagiarist.

Gay will remain a $900,000-a-year member of its faculty. She wrote an op-ed in the New York Times claiming it was racism which caused the plagiarism allegations to come to light against her, because she was Harvard’s first black president.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) told The Post that the corporation, led by billionaire former Obama commerce secretary Penny Pritzker, had covered up “Gay’s career of plagiarism” and should pay the price for “bullying and censorship.”

GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik told The Post that Republicans will use subpoena power to find all the secrets of Harvard’s cover-up of allegations that Gay was a serial plagiarist. REUTERS
Embattled Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned as president of the Ivy League school on Jan. 2. AP

Pritzker’s corporation used lawyers to issue two bullying letters to The Post during a weeks-long campaign to hide the truth — that Gay was credibly accused of plagiarism — and stood behind false claims that Gay was innocent before the administrator had even been investigated.

Harvard first threw its weight entirely behind Gay in late October when The Post first asked the university to comment on a series of allegations that its president had passed off other academics’ work as her own throughout her career.

The Post is publishing the threatening letters sent by Harvard’s attorneys, the bare-knuckled firm Clare Locke, today in full. To read the Oct. 27 letter click here, and to read the Nov. 7 letter, click here.

Billionaire Penny Pritzker, who leads the Harvard Corporation, is under pressure to resign after she and the board “used every avenue available to cover up Claudine Gay’s failures,” according to Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik. AP
Gay’s handling of displays of antisemitism on campus at Harvard first led to pressure on her. But when The Post asked for comment on allegations of antisemitism, the college’s powerful corporation signed off on a legal letter whose claims were later proven to be false, and which demanded censorship of the claims. AFP via Getty Images

They show Harvard’s cover-up campaign in action in October and November, a time when Gay was under mounting pressure over her handling of anti-semitism on campus.

Harvard used its bullying lawyers to claim falsely, on October 27, that the examples of Gay’s work we asked about were “both cited and properly credited,” and that allegations of plagiarism were “defamatory falsehoods” — in effect clearing Gay before any investigation could take place.

“Harvard and President Gay stand together in their determination that the proposed article must not be published,” said the October 27 letter sent by Clare-Locke to The Post’s attorneys.

In a second letter from the firm, dated Nov. 7, lawyers for Harvard and Gay claimed, “We have conclusively rebutted (with evidence) all the false allegations of plagiarism that have been presented to date.”

But secretly the corporation decided to launch an investigation into the allegations — a fact it kept from students, faculty, donors, and lawmakers who summoned Gay to give evidence to them — and brought in a panel of outside experts whose identity it is still covering up.

This was the first letter Harvard sent through bare-knuckled lawyers Clare Locke, saying that Harvard had already effectively cleared Claudine Gay, just three days after it was first alerted to plagiarism allegations. Clare Locke LLP

On November 7, Penny Prtizker’s corporation doubled down claiming that allegations of plagiarism had been “conclusively” rebutted. But Gay was in fact under investigation for exactly those claims and was not cleared. Clare Locke LLP

At the end of that probe, Gay made corrections relating to four of the plagiarism allegations The Post raised.

That meant her work was not “cited and properly credited,” and that plagiarism allegations had not been “conclusively rebutted.”

And days later, Gay then made corrections to her Harvard PhD when it too was revealed to include other academics’ work without attribution.

The Post presented this example of possible plagiarism, published in Urban Affairs Review in 2017, when Gay was dean of social science at Harvard. Harvard’s lawyers told us it was “properly cited,” but weeks later Harvard said she was asking to have it corrected to add quote marks and citation.
This was one of the 27 instances which The Post asked Harvard to comment on. It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Urban Affairs in 2011. Williamson said it was not plagiarism and Harvard’s lawyers told The Post it was “correctly cited,” but it is one of the works which Harvard said Gay would ask to have correctly credited in her 2017 paper.

“Harvard University and the Harvard Corporation used every avenue available to cover up Claudine Gay’s failures, threatening the New York Post following their investigation and coverage of Claudine Gay’s serial plagiarist past and failed leadership,” Stefanik told The Post.

“These attempts at bullying and censorship by the Harvard Corporation are unacceptable and should result in the immediate firing of the board members involved.

“The House Education and the Workforce’s ongoing congressional investigation will use every tool available, including subpoena power, to investigate Harvard’s cover up of Claudine Gay’s career of plagiarism, attempts to silence media seeking the truth, and expose the rot of antisemitism plaguing our nation’s colleges and universities.”

Pritzker and the other members of the board declined to comment to The Post. Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain, a former Democratic party operative, also declined to comment.

Among the 27 instances which The Post asked Harvard to comment on was this example from Gay’s work when she was a postgraduate student, published in a specialist magazine. Harvard did not review the 1993 work at all, in part because of its age. Covin is dead.

On Saturday the New York Times published claims that the board had been fractured internally over whether to keep Gay, who Prtizker had pushed to become president, in her role. In the end, it was Pritzker who phoned Gay

The billionaire has remained silent over Gay and over the false claims in the legal letters she authorized as the corporation’s most senior member.

Pritzker, a scion of the Hyatt Hotels family whose brother J.B. Prtizker is Democratic governor of Illinois, is also Pres. Biden’s special envoy for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery, putting her in charge of how tens of billions in aid to the war-torn country is spent.

The House Education and Workforce Committee began probing antisemitism on college campuses in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, leading to Gay’s disastrous appearance in early December when she told Stefanik that whether calling for Jewish genocide broke Harvard’s rules “depended on context.”

“Claudine Gay’s long overdue forced resignation. is just the beginning of exposing the greatest scandal of any college or university in history,” Stefanik told The Post.

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