[UPDATED] University of Iowa TPUSA Board Resigns, Accusing National Leaders of Exploiting the Death of Mollie Tibbetts

Candace Owens speaking with attendees at the 2018 Young Women's Leadership Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Hyatt Regency DFW Hotel in Dallas, Texas. (Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Commons)

UPDATE: After Right Wing Watch reported that the executive board of the University of Iowa chapter of Turning Point USA had resigned in protest of what an unsigned statement by the board said was the exploitation of Mollie Tibbets’ death by national TPUSA leaders, the statement was deleted from the Twitter feed of the U.I. chapter.

A tweet from the account, posted this afternoon, reads:

“It has come to our attention that students not affiliated University of Iowa Turning Point USA were in contact with Turning Point USA to plan to bring Charlie and speak on illegal immigration. It was a misunderstanding on our end that the event was already planned when it had just been in the works with students not affiliated with UI TPUSA. We sincerely apologize to Charlie and Candace for this misunderstanding.”

The University of Iowa’s Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter released a statement this morning announcing that its executive board had disbanded after it declined a request from TPUSA field director who had “insisted” the chapter host, in the wake of the killing of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, an event focusing on immigration planned to feature TPUSA president Charlie Kirk and TPUSA communications director Candace Owens.

Earlier this week, right-wing media and political activists obsessively politicized Tibbetts’ murder allegedly at the hands of someone who police believed to be an undocumented immigrant (an assertion that the suspect’s lawyer has contested) to advance their anti-immigrant agenda. President Trump amplified the theme just hours after Tibbetts’ body was identified. The reaction brought condemnations from Tibbetts’ family members, including the dead student’s aunt, who released a statement cautioning against a racist reaction to her niece’s killing. Tibbetts’ second cousin, Sam Lucas, responded to a statement by TPUSA’s Owens about the murder, and demanded that Owens stop “using my cousin’s death as political propaganda.” Owens lashed out against Lucas, writing that she was “not ashamed for believing [Tibbets’] death should not have happened.”

In a statement dated August 24 the entire executive board of the University of Iowa TPUSA announced that they were resigning their posts, finding it “in poor taste to exploit the death of a Hawkeye to suit a political agenda.” It adds that if TPUSA’s national directors hold the event anyway, “it does so without the support of this executive board” because “we are all shocked, hurting, and in need of more respect than what was given to us by Turning Point USA.”

“This board also extends sympathy to the member of Mollie’s family that dealt with public harassment from Turning Point USA Communications Director, Candace Owens. We ask that your exchange with Owens represent only herself and not conservatives as a whole,” the statement reads.

Additionally, the University of Iowa TPUSA executive board announced that its members were severing their “association with Turning Point USA.”