The Joint Elections Committee found Roger Kapoor in contempt early Thursday morning, preventing him from becoming Student Association president – a position he won in the popular vote. Responding to a complaint, the JEC investigated Kapoor campaign’s financial dealings, focusing on the price he paid for pizzas distributed in a series of campaign events. After several calls to Papa John’s and even obtaining the original receipts for the pizza purchases, the JEC gave little credence to Kapoor’s explanations and ruled he exceeded the $1,000 spending limit by $20.88. The JEC did its job and proved its case. Although Kapoor will appeal the decision to the SA Student Court, his campaign was caught violating a clearly defined spending limit. He must now accept the consequences his actions deserve.
At issue is how much Kapoor actually paid for the pizzas. While the regular price of a large cheese pizza from Papa John’s – the kind Kapoor ordered – is $7.99, Kapoor admits he paid $5.50 a pizza. The JEC charter mandates that candidates list items they buy for campaigns “at fair market value.” Kapoor apparently did not do this by listing the pizzas at the $5.50 discount price.
The JEC actually granted Kapoor significant leeway in its decision. Rather than count 10 pizzas allegedly present at one party as the complainant claimed, the committee only counted the five pizzas Kapoor admitted to providing, calculating them at the higher price. The difference between the discounted pizza and what any other candidate would have paid for campaign food was enough to push Kapoor over the limit.
While the JEC charter must be revised to prohibit certain unseemly actions like the Delta Tau Delta “Rock the Vote” party, the provisions governing the spending cap are clear. If a candidate exceeds the cap, he or she becomes ineligible for election. With this strict rule in mind, Kapoor should have taken responsibility for his spending and not risked surpassing the cap. Despite attempts to place blame elsewhere, his campaign’s overspending is entirely Kapoor’s fault.
Kapoor’s actions signify a level of irresponsibility that is unacceptable from anyone who assumes the position of SA president. How can students place their trust in a candidate who has either almost no familiarity with the election rules or blatantly defies them?
In a turn of events that perpetuates the eerie similarities between this round of SA elections and the most recent national presidential contest, the presidential candidate who garnered the most votes appears to have lost the election in a court fight. This time, however, the court’s decision is clearly correct.