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Campaign appeals penalties to SG Supreme Court

The Student Government (SG) Supreme Court will deliberate on the appeals brought forth by a presidential candidate to one of his opponents.

The Election Rules Commission (ERC) at an appeals hearing Tuesday upheld point sanctions against presidential candidate Cesar Hernandez brought by opponent Andrew Cohen, saying Hernandez violated SG statutes when he used USF logos and trademarks in Facebook photos.

Hernandez’s campaign still disagrees with the ruling, so it appealed to the Supreme Court. According to SG statutes, “candidates who feel that points were assessed to them incorrectly during an election may appeal these points to the Supreme Court.”

Last week, Cohen filed six grievances, and the ERC formulized five points against Hernandez’s campaign. The points will not disqualify them from the election, but candidates must not exceed 10 points or they will face disqualification from the election.

Hernandez could not be present at the appeals hearing because of a scheduling conflict Tuesday, so Ken Getty, a graduate student on Hernandez’s campaign staff, represented him and brought his argument to Michael LeBlanc, supervisor of the ERC. Cohen was not present.

The photos show Hernandez and running mate Spencer Montgomery holding the “U” signs with Rocky D.

Bull. The caption below the photo said, “Even Rocky knows who to vote for … one vote Cesar and Spencer.”

They received two points apiece for two photos and one point for the third, but Getty said he thinks the ruling
is inconsistent because the photos are similar, and the campaign should only be charged one point with two pieces of photo evidences.

“What we are looking for is a point reduction,” Getty said. “We thought that five points were pretty inconsistent.”

LeBlanc said the five points are separate, and it’s the discretion of the ERC to decide grievances during elections. According to SG statutes, “official endorsement shall be at the discretion of the Election Rules Commission and its Rules and Procedures.”

“Looking at the photos with them and Rocky, I think it’s clear to the commission that it showed endorsement or could be seen as an official endorsement,” LeBlanc said. “There’s no way around that.”

Cohen initially filed the grievances anonymously because he didn’t believe the person filing the grievance should have anything to do with it. However, he was not allowed to file anonymously.

“Unfortunately, people are going to look at it and say, ‘Oh, Facebook photos? That’s ridiculous,’ but there is something deeper there,” Getty said. “People spend all the time and energy working toward something, and then it’s possibly being anonymously taken away by a form that’s very blatantly not filled out correctly. Yeah, you get angry about it. You want to exhaust all of your options in your defense.”

Once an appeal has been taken to the Supreme Court, it will deliberate privately and go into recess for no more than 48 hours for each justice to reflect on the evidence, according to court rules. Then, no earlier than 12 hours after recess, they meet to determine their final ruling on the case.