BYU asks Mitt Romney to stop using footage from campus in his political campaign

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mitt Romney waves to the crowd after speaking at the Tech Summit at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Friday, January 19, 2018.

Mitt Romney graduated from Brigham Young University. So did his wife, Ann. And their five sons.

Still, the family alma mater has asked Romney to stop using video shot on its campus to promote his campaign for U.S. Senate.

In his two-minute announcement posted online last month, Romney included clips of BYU students walking past the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center and sitting in the Harold B. Lee Library. While the Republican candidate does not appear in the shots, the private university owned by the Mormon church has strict rules on how its image can be used.

“We have spoken with Mitt Romney’s campaign officials about the brief clips showing campus and our political neutrality policy,” said school spokeswoman Carri Jenkins in a written statement. “We have been assured by the campaign staff that this footage will not be used in any other promotional pieces.”

Romney’s team declined comment, though a campaign source confirmed the scenes were filmed at the school.

As the camera pans over campus for three successive shots near the beginning of the video, Romney, in voice-over, says, “Utah is admired not only for its beauty but also for the character of its people. Utahns are known for hard work, innovation and our can-do pioneering spirit. But more than these, we’re known as a people who serve, who care and who rise to any occasion.”

It then shows the former presidential nominee, who’s now running for the seat being vacated by retiring seven-term Sen. Orrin Hatch, standing in the Olympic Oval’s speedskating rink in Kearns, a nod to Romney taking over the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and leading them to success. And the video wraps up with him at a diner greeting people, including two students who had appeared in the BYU campus shots.

Jenkins said the campaign did not ask for permission to film, and the school wants “to ensure independence from partisan political activities.” The university’s 2,000-word “political neutrality policy” suggests that candidates appearing on campus could be “interpreted as endorsement by the university’s sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

It reads: “Photographs, video, films or other representations of a candidate taken on campus may not be used for campaign purposes.”

One BYU campus feature not included in the video: The Romney Institute of Public Management in the business school — named for Romney’s father, the late three-term Michigan Gov. George W. Romney.