OREM, Utah (AP) -- Conservative commentator Sean Hannity's appearance at Utah Valley State College is being financed in part by the campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr.
Hannity's speech on Oct. 11 is billed as providing balance to the Oct. 20 appearance of documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.
Hannity has agreed to waive his standard $100,000 speaker's fee and is asking only for reimbursement of his travel and other expenses. Tickets for his appearance went on sale Wednesday.
Huntsman campaign spokesman Jason Chaffetz said Huntsman helped arrange Hannity's appearance and will pay his travel costs. The money will come from donations solicited by the campaign specifically to pay for Hannity's travel.
Student leaders have been under fire for bringing Moore to campus, both because of his political views and because of his fee of $40,000 plus expenses.
The student leaders say tickets for his speech have been sold out and have brought in about $30,000. In addition they have received donations to help pay the expenses.
Mike Mower, a member of UVSC's Board of Trustees who worked with Huntsman to bring Hannity to UVSC, also expressed disappointment at the public outcry over the student government's decision to invite Moore.
"The board of trustees supports the student government decision to bring speakers of their choice to campus," Mower said. "While the speakers do not directly reflect the views of the members of the board of trustees, we appreciate the student effort to bring balance to their speaker series prior to the national election."
Opponents have circulated petitions to force an election to cancel Moore's appearance and recall the student body president and vice president.
They need signatures of 10 percent of the student body -- 2,415 students. They say they've gathered 2,000 signatures and student Sean Vreeland, who started the petition, said they expect to have the rest needed by Friday. Two-thirds of the student body would need to vote in favor to remove the student officers and cancel Moore's appearance.
Huntsman's people plan to fly Hannity from New York to Utah and on to Phoenix, where he will broadcast his show during the final presidential debate there, Chaffetz said.
"Short of the president, there is no one better than Sean Hannity to give the Republican view of the political climate," he told the Deseret Morning News. "It's in our best interest to have him speak to students before they go out and vote."
Democrat Scott Matheson Jr., applauds Huntsman's concern for a balance of political views in Utah. "In fact, with more support for political balance in Utah, I should be elected governor," he said with a chuckle.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)