A University of Montana official confirmed Tuesday that Stephen Bannon, the incendiary former adviser to President Donald Trump, plans to appear at the flagship in person at an upcoming conference.
"We had a brief video conference with the ACE organizer (Adrian Cheok) this morning and he confirmed that Stephen Bannon plans to deliver his keynote in person in December," said Paula Short, communications director for UM, in an email.
Called ACE 2018, the event is the 15th International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology. It will be held in the University Center, but Short said the university is not a sponsor of the event, scheduled for Dec. 10 to 14.
Bannon is a former chief strategist for Trump who pushed a nationalist agenda to help elect the president. He left the White House after a year and was later fired as executive chairman of Breitbart News, a far right website, for comments critical of Trump and his family in Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.''
Short said the space reserved at the University Center will accommodate 60 to 80 participants. She said ACE reserved the space in the University Center months ago and only recently did Bannon's name appear as a keynote speaker on the organization website.
The contract with ACE is still being finalized, but it does protect UM in case the event requires extra security, Short said.
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"Any additional security precautions needed to insure the safety of individuals or the protection of property, including additional personnel and equipment, rental or purchase, will be the sole financial responsibility of the Client," reads the standard language UM uses in its contracts.
"If the UM or the University Police Chief does not feel an adequate level of security can be maintained, this agreement may be canceled at any time, including terminating a function already in progress."
In an earlier email to the Missoulian, organizer Cheok said Bannon will "talk about how economic nationalism will help minorities (blacks, hispanics, etc.) to obtain more high tech jobs such as in (the) computer entertainment industry."
Short said while UM is not a sponsor of the conference, like all public universities, it values free speech and expression.
"Like any event that has the potential to draw strong, opposing viewpoints, we have security measures in place to ensure all policies are followed and that all are able to express their views productively and safely," Short said in an earlier email.