This story has been updated to include statements from Wren and Murphy, which were given after the original published story.
Emails show a Donald Trump re-election campaign official personally asked UF Student Body President Michael Murphy in September to bring Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle to campus the following month.
Caroline Wren, national financial consultant of Trump Victory, the president’s 2020 re-election committee, said she wanted to bring Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle and Republican National Committee Co-Chair Tommy Hicks to UF either Oct. 9 or 10.
“We met at my house on the 4th of July,” Wren wrote in the Sept. 10 email. “I wanted to follow up with you regarding a speaking engagement at the University of Florida for Donald Trump Jr.”
Murphy responded Sept. 11 saying he’d “love to hop on a phone call” to discuss bringing the three to UF.
Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle spoke Oct. 10 at the University Auditorium to an audience of more than 800 for a $50,000 joint payment, which came from student tuition fees. Hundreds protested outside the venue.
The Alligator received the exchange between Wren and Murphy Wednesday evening from Mariana Castro, a UF alumna who requested the public records through the university and posted the email exchange on public social media. The Alligator submitted a similar request Oct. 6 and hadn’t received the records as of Thursday evening.
Murphy told the Alligator on Oct. 5 that SG initiated contact with Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle, and when Trump Jr. agreed to speak, ACCENT contacted his representatives.
Murphy wrote in an email to The Alligator Wednesday evening that he met Wren at a social event where he mentioned UF SG wanting to bring both Donald Trump Jr. and Sen. Bernie Sanders to campus during Fall. Wren told him she could be of assistance and Murphy asked her to email him, Murphy said.
The Alligator confirmed through public records request that Murphy was in contact with Sanders’ staff Sept. 20. On Sept. 22, a representative from Sanders’ staff declined Murphy’s invitation, saying that Sanders’ “schedule was very full and he is traveling extensively.”
Murphy said he told Wren on the phone that he wanted to bring Donald Trump Jr. for a non-campaign event. He said Wren connected him to Trump Jr.’s booking agent to plan with the appropriate contacts.
Murphy said his staff also reached out to Sanders’ campaign and non-campaign staff, but his non-campaign staff declined the invitation to speak. Sanders’ representatives asked if he could host a campaign speech on campus, and Murphy and his staff declined, Murphy said.
“The only difference was Sen. Sanders’ non-campaign staff declined our invitation to speak in his official capacity,” Murphy wrote in an email. “Any attempt to try and separate one from the other with allegations of impropriety is deceptive and inflammatory.”
If Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle came to UF for a fundraising event, expenses would need to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission because student activity fees cannot be used to support a political party or candidate, according to Alligator archives. As of then, the event did not fall under the FEC’s jurisdiction.
When The Alligator called Wren on Wednesday evening, she said she didn’t know who Murphy was. Wren later responded to questions via email, saying she met him over the summer and he expressed an interest in bringing Donald Trump Jr. to UF. She said she followed up with him “via my private email in my personal capacity and mistakenly forgot to remove my Trump Victory signature.”
Wren said after speaking on the phone with Murphy, UF representatives were connected with Donald Trump Jr.’s office.
Wren’s email comes from a domain with Bluebonnet Fundraising whose goal is to “make fundraising for your group one of the easiest you will ever do,” according to its website. Wren is the company’s president, according to a Politico profile.
She told Politico she got her start in politics working with John McCain’s 2008 campaign. She was also the finance director for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s 2014 campaign, according to the Post and Courier.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.
Donald Trump Jr. speaks to a crowd of more than 800 people Thursday evening. Trump’s speech was met with a mixture of cheers and boos.