The Joint Election Committee stripped presidential candidate Roger Kapoor of his victory early Thursday morning, ruling that he exceeded the $1,000 campaign-spending limit by $20.88, following three hours of testimony and deliberations.
The JEC ruled unanimously that Kapoor failed to correctly report campaign expenses for a Thurston Hall pizza party.
Kapoor bought pizza using a Papa John’s discount – which JEC members said he received because he is a community facilitator – and reported the expense at the discounted rate of $5.50 a pizza. JEC members said Kapoor should have reported the price at the “fair market value” of the pizza, or $7.99 a pizza, to comply with campaign rules.
JEC rules state that candidates must report the fair market value of campaign goods if they are bought at a discount.
Kapoor’s campaign members testified that Kapoor received the pizza discount because he buys a lot of pizza, and the arrangement had nothing to do with his position as a community facilitator. But JEC members said Kapoor’s discount is directly tied to his CF job.
“We ruled on what would be a fair market value for the pizza for any candidate, not just CFs,” JEC Chairman Josh Hiscock said after the hearing.
Kapoor said he plans to appeal to the SA Student Court on the grounds that the JEC made a decision “based on one call to Papa John’s for one pizza.” He said the deal was available to any student who made arrangements with a Papa John’s manager.
“We disagree with the decision handed down by the JEC, and we are in the process of filing a case with the Student Court,” Kapoor said.
If the Student Court does not overturn the JEC ruling, the presidential election will go to a run-off election because neither Loren nor Simon garnered 40 percent of the vote, executive vice president Cathy Resler said.
Simon, who attended the hearing, said he supports the JEC’s decision.
“I respect the decision. It was a fair judgement, (and) they looked at all the information,” Simon said.
Simon said he will wait for an announcement to find out the status of the election results.
Simon said he is not bothered that the disqualified Kapoor received the majority of the student vote.
“If I had done the same things Roger had done and was found in violation for, I’m confident that I could have had the same number of students,” Simon said.
SA President David Burt said he hopes to see an end to campaign controversy.
“It’s a fine mess,” Burt said after the ruling. “It makes anyone, including myself, nauseous.”
JEC members and Kapoor disagreed on the number of pizzas Kapoor bought for the Thurston campaign party.
James Regan, Kapoor’s council, said Kapoor ordered 10 pizzas but changed the number to five as they were being delivered. Although the JEC presented testimony alleging that Kapoor bought ten pizzas for the event, the final ruling only included five.
“We tried to give Kapoor the benefit of the doubt using the figure of five pizzas to determine the infraction,” Hiscock said.
The committee also reviewed testimony on how Kapoor paid for the pizzas.
“I gave Evan (McMorris-Santoro) the debit card, and I assumed he paid for it on debit,” Kapoor said in an interview.
But the committee produced receipts that indicate he used a Visa Card. The Kapoor campaign said the card was used to reserve the order and not pay for it.
The committee ruled only on the issue of the discounted price.
Before the hearing on Kapoor’s campaign spending, the JEC penalized Kapoor and other SA candidates for failing to file their financial statements by the assigned Friday 5 p.m. deadline.
Kapoor, who appeared shocked while Hiscock read the final ruling Thursday morning, stood quickly and left the courtroom when Hiscock finished.
The results of the election now hinge on the SA Student Court’s decision on Kapoor’s appeal.