Bacon named executive director of Jefferson Council
U.Va. conservative alumni association focused on free speech
James A. Bacon Jr., the Richmond-based founder of conservative political blog Bacon’s Rebellion, has been named executive director of The Jefferson Council, a University of Virginia alumni association “devoted to upholding the Jeffersonian legacy,” Bacon announced Monday.
A U.Va. alum, Bacon was Virginia Business magazine’s founding editor for 16 years, beginning in 1986, when the publication was owned by Media General, and later became its publisher. Starting in November 2018, he worked briefly as an editorial writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and was previously vice president of publishing for the Boomer Project, as well as an op-ed contributor to The Washington Times. Bacon is also the author of “Boomergeddon: How Runaway Deficits and the Age Wave Will Bankrupt the Federal Government and Devastate Retirement for Baby Boomers Unless We Act Now.”
The Jefferson Council was founded two years ago “in response to the rise of ideological intolerance and suppression of free speech on college campuses,” according to the announcement.
“We want U.Va. to be open and welcoming to everyone, but we believe that demographic diversity should be accompanied by free speech, free expression and intellectual diversity,” Bacon, who was previously the council’s vice president of communications, said in a statement. “We share Thomas Jefferson’s vision of U.Va. as an institution based upon ‘the illimitable freedom of the human mind where we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.’”
The organization is one of five founding members of the Alumni Free Speech Alliance, a growing group of college alumni organizations that argue conservative students’ rights to free speech are being stifled. Bert Ellis, The Jefferson Council’s president and a private equity firm CEO, went viral in 2020 when he wrote on Facebook that he went to U.Va.’s Lawn to remove a student’s sign using profanity to criticize the university, although two university representatives asked him to leave. Earlier this year, Ellis was named to U.Va.’s board of visitors by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, drawing criticism from some students and faculty members.
“The hiring of a full-time director manager is a milestone in the evolution of The Jefferson Council from an all-volunteer group to a professionally staffed organization,” Ellis said in a statement Monday. “The appointment will position the council to ramp up its activities in support of the longstanding Jeffersonian traditions of civility, honor, free speech and the open exchange of ideas.”