The race for student body president has tightened in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election, after one ticket was disqualified from the race Saturday.
Presidential candidate Justin Bragan and running mate Jonathan Dawson have been disqualified from the student body presidential election and will not be on Tuesday’s ballot.
The Student Government (SG) Supreme Court unanimously decided Saturday to uphold the Election Rules Commission’s (ERC) Feb. 7 decision to levy 10 points against the Bragan-Dawson campaign for not reporting campaign contributions. In accordance with ERC rules, any campaign assessed 10 points is automatically removed from the election.
The Bragan-Dawson campaign distributed fliers with coupons for Pita Pitt on the back, which the ERC said counted as campaign contributions.
Bragan and Dawson didn’t report the coupons as contributions, which was seen by the ERC as a “misrepresentation of funds.”
The campaign appealed the ERC’s decision Friday, but was unsuccessful.
Nicholas Zateslo, the Bragan-Dawson campaign manager, said that Bragan and Dawson are disappointed but there is nothing they can do.
“We couldn’t prove they (the ERC) broke a rule,” he said. “We thought they interpreted the law wrong.”
Dawson, however, said he feels his campaign was shortchanged by the ERC because he and Bragan were “a threat to the system they have.”
“I hope that the person who is elected into office starts to change things and makes SG unbiased,” he said.
Bragan could not be reached for comment by press time.
In the appeal Friday, Zateslo had to prove there was a procedural error in the ERC’s decision. The SG Supreme Court decided, however, that the campaign could not prove such an error, and therefore upheld the ERC’s decision, disqualifying Bragan and Dawson from the race.
“Nowhere in SG statutes or ERC Rules of Procedure are candidates exempt from filing non-monetary campaign contribution (such as the right to print coupons) if the fair-market value of such contributions is zero dollars,” wrote the SG Supreme Court in an official statement.
Hall said that she agrees with the Court’s decision, but that there are still problems surrounding the issue of campaign contributions.
“The line needs to be defined a little clearer,” she said.
Tom Green, SG attorney general and representative of the ERC in court, said the Supreme Court made the right decision.
“It went well for the ERC, not so much for the Bragan-Dawson campaign,” he said.
Green also said it wasn’t an easy decision.
“It was a hard decision to make,” he said. “A lot of people worked hard in the Bragan-Dawson campaign.”
Hall said the whole situation was unfortunate, but that it was a rule the ERC had to enforce.
“I don’t want to see any candidate kicked out, but I have to enforce the rules,” she said.
Title XII – the SG statute that address election rules – needs some revision in general, Hall said. She hopes to address the title’s problems with faculty, staff and student input.
“It wasn’t a problem that I foresaw – no one in the ERC saw it coming,” she said. “You have to expect the unexpected.”