I met her in grad school when she was the leader of a Republican Renaissance.
They are calling it a sex scandal but it’s really not. In the bizarre circumstances surrounding Councilman Dan Halloran’s charges, there is a tremendous amount of collateral damage being done to a young aspiring law student.
Mapes was always interested in politics. I had first heard of her while I was in grad school at St. John’s studying – you guessed it – government and politics. But first a little background. During my undergrad years at St. John’s University, I spent my time building up the Government and Politics Society as an advocacy organization with a watchdog function to oversee the organization in charge of all student clubs, known as SGI (student government incorporated). I advocated for increased transparency in budgetary procedure and an audit of what I believed to be the misappropriation of University allocated funding.
To make a long story short, there was a clear disparity in funding for certain organizations and I felt it needed to be addressed, if not corrected. I sought resolution with the powers that be, but after being stonewalled by the Treasurer of the Executive Board, (he claimed the funding formula was part of an age old process which he couldn’t reveal, but basically meant it was above all forms of scrutiny or improvement) I had enough, so I began a grassroots movement to organize students at first by seeking out the leaders of student run clubs and then by taking to the airwaves.
Soon, the Government and Politics Society began to push forward progressive ideals all over campus, but first and foremost, it’s primary focus was to open up the books of SGI. As the Government and Politics Society’s most outspoken President, I stated my case to student congress time after time after time, but even after my objections were heard, they fell on deaf ears with enough lip service to make you sick. It wasn’t long before we began to circulate flyers all around campus that questions were finally being raised such as, who is this young man that dares to speak up? Maybe he has a valid point? Sadly, by the time the movement had gained enough traction my time as an undergrad was up, but my work was far from finished (even though by the end of my senior year, all student club leaders were being encouraged to attend the budget procedure – a small victory). After being accepted into grad school, I came on board to aid the Government and Politics Society, as well as many other student-run clubs as an informal advisor to keep the momentum going. It was around that time when I began to witness freshmen students take up a leadership role in university politics. Meaghan Mapes was one of them, in fact she was the only one. Her work with the College Republicans was different from that of her predecessors. Mapes was an activist and she quickly figured out basic organizational psychology. She worked tirelessly to rebuild the organization and to bridge the growing disconnect between university politics and the local political scene. She put a new face on an old idea and helped cut the red tape that harmed student organizations. Soon every student became conscious (or at least semi-conscious) of the Mapes-led republican movement at SJU.
Even though I leaned Democrat, her work was notable across the aisle because it engaged students in an otherwise apathetic campus.
It’s not surprising that she had become the Deputy Chief of Staff to one of New York City’s most prolific Council members. She’s smart, articulate and driven – something the Republican Party really needs. But I think we tend to overlook how often love happens in the workplace. Senator Chuck Schumer would know; he’s been playing matchmaker with former staffers and colleagues for over a decade (some have even resulted in marriage). While some media outlets are calling it a sex scandal, I think we need to reevaluate this claim because it is absolutely sexist to assume she was promoted from campaign volunteer to Deputy Chief of Staff just because she is a young single female or just because a jealous former staffer said so, anonymously mind you. I believe we need to leave this young aspiring law student to her own destiny, which doesn’t seem to include Councilman Halloran or any wrongdoing on her part for that matter.