Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pantano questions use of endowment money for controversial UNC speaker

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

Mar 15, 2011

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Former Republican Congressional Candidate Ilario Pantano is criticizing the UNC system for spending $20,000 to bring in a controversial speaker.

Officials with the UNC system say they are using private funds to pay for the speaker. The money comes from the Weil Lecture on American Citizenship.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has promoted the building of a mosque near Ground Zero, will speak at UNC Chapel Hill on March 16. Pantano has been invited by the Christian Action Network to speak at an opposition rally and candlelight vigil that night.

Pantano spoke at a rally opposing the mosque on September 11 last year at Ground Zero.

"While I have fought two wars to protect our God-given rights, including the Freedom of Speech, I cannot understand why the Governor and the chancellors of North Carolina's public university system thought it prudent to award $20,000 to Imam Rauf, an individual that has done so much to hurt so many," Ilario Pantano said in an emailed statement.

"Given the budgetary crisis we are facing in South Eastern North Carolina, there could not be a less compelling use of scarce educational funding," he asserted. "Wouldn't that $20,000 be better spent as a merit scholarship or as a contribution in support relief efforts to a tsunami ravaged Japan?"

Pantano has announced his intentions to run for the 7th District Congressional Seat next year. He lost to current Congressman Mike McIntyre in the general election in 2010.

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