Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin criticized Washington Post Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan Sunday, describing Ryan’s dual role as chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute as a clear conflict of interest.
On Saturday, the Post reported that the Reagan Foundation had demanded Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) cease fundraising off of the 40th president’s name and likeness. According to the report, the foundation took particular issue with the Trump 2020 campaign offering — in exchange for a $45 donation — a commemorative coin set that included one piece with Trump’s likeness and another with Reagan’s, mounted on a photograph featuring both men from 1987.
“I campaigned for Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980. I worked in President Reagan’s administration for 8 years,” Levin — who worked in the Education and Interior departments under Reagan before becoming chief of staff to then-Attorney General Edwin Meese — wrote on Facebook.
“I did not realize that Fred Ryan — who is now the publisher and CEO of the Washington Post — is also the chairman of the Reagan Library & Foundation board.”
Levin, who hosts “Life, Liberty & Levin” Sunday nights on Fox News Channel, went on to claim that what he called the Post’s “leftist agenda” conflicts with Reagan’s “conservative legacy.”
“It also explains why the Washington Post ran a story about the Reagan Library objecting to President Trump’s use of the Reagan name for fundraising — that means Fred Ryan objected,” he said.
Post political columnist Karen Tumulty wrote in the story that Ryan “declined to offer a comment,” but did disclose his position at the Post.
Ryan himself served as Assistant to the President of the United States from 1982-1989, and as Reagan’s chief of staff between 1989 and 1995. Ryan was notably chosen to be a pallbearer at Reagan’s 2004 funeral, alongside entertainer Merv Griffin and longtime Reagan adviser Michael Deaver.
The Reagan Foundation is perhaps best known for operating the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., northwest of Los Angeles.
“The purpose of the Library is to enshrine President Reagan’s fabulous conservative legacy for all time,” Levin wrote. “Consequently, I am appalled that Fred Ryan’s Washington Post and the Reagan Library, under Fred Ryan’s chairmanship, would pull this publicity stunt on President Trump.”
“And I expect the thousands of Reagan alumni who worked for President Reagan share my concern.”
Levin then addressed Ryan directly, essentially challenging him to decide whether to lead the Washington Post or the Reagan library’s board.
“[T]here’s a clear conflict,” he said.
According to the Post, Reagan Foundation chief marketing officer Melissa Giller held a phone call with the RNC last week, after which the committee decided to cease using the late president’s likeness in accordance with the foundation’s wishes.
Giller added that the Reagan Foundation is continuing to study the matter, and has yet to decide whether to consider any potential legal recourse.