<cp_showmedia position="2" align="right"Roger Kapoor regained his claim to the Student Association presidency Thursday night as the SA Student Court overturned a Joint Election Committee ruling that had invalidated his victory.
In a unanimous verdict, the Student Court said JEC members overstepped their authority by ruling on an issue for which there was no complaint, according to the summary judgment issued by Chief Judge Jon M. Rodeback. SA presidential candidates Bob Simon and Daniel Loren said they plan to file another suit about Kapoor's campaign finances in the Student Court.
Early Thursday morning, the JEC ruled Kapoor ineligible for the presidency because he failed to report the fair market value of discounted pizzas for a campaign event in Thurston Hall. The original complaint involved the number of pizzas Kapoor ordered, not whether he correctly reported the charge under discount rules in the JEC charter, the Student Court ruled Thursday.
The JEC "clearly ruled outside of the scope of the
complaint filed," Rodeback wrote.
In a move that could prevent further cases in court battles that have stretched more than two weeks, the court also decided that Kapoor did not violate campaign rules by reporting the discount price of the pizza.
The court found that "bargaining is an acceptable practice under the definition of fair market value," according to the judgment.
"Clearly fair market value is what a seller is willing to sell and a buyer is willing to buy," Kapoor said. "As far as I'm concerned I did nothing wrong. Who would go into a pizza store and try to buy the most expensive pizza?"
Kapoor was found in contempt of committee by the JEC Thursday for exceeding the $1,000 campaign-spending limit by about $20.
After announcing Kapoor as winner of the election with 57 percent of the student vote Wednesday afternoon, the JEC heard a complaint that Kapoor had purchased 10 pizzas for a campaign party, which contradicted his financial report, which listed five pizzas. After deliberation, the JEC gave Kapoor the benefit of the doubt that he purchased five pizzas but found him in contempt for reporting the discounted price.
Kapoor said he asked Papa John's over the phone for the best price for 10 pizzas, mentioning he was a GW student. He said the manager offered a price of $5.50 a pizza rather than the regular $7.99 price.
The JEC stated that Kapoor should have reported the fair market value of the pizza, or $7.99 each, to comply with campaign rules – which would put him over the $1,000 spending limit, invalidating his victory.
"We felt we couldn't disregard the financial statement and felt that we were right in what we did," Hiscock said. "It's like, if a police officer catches someone for speeding and then sees a gun in their car . we had to look into the financing inconsistency."
Hiscock said the JEC does not plan to pursue Kapoor's campaign expenses further. Complaints can be filed against a candidate until the candidate is officially certified, JEC members said. Kapoor said the certification will take place this week.
Loren said he disagrees with the Student Court decision. Loren would have entered a runoff election with Simon for the presidency if the Student Court upheld the JEC decision.
"The Student Court has gone beyond its bounds in both decisions and doesn't know its place," Loren said. "I think they should be a lot more conservative and it would have been helpful to know that bargaining was a part of the fair market value definition."
Simon and Loren announced Sunday night their intent to file suit against the JEC. They allege that the JEC ruled incorrectly due to dishonest statements by Kapoor and his campaign staff, according to their notice of suit submitted to the Student Court. Simon and Loren contend that Kapoor lied during Thursday's hearings about the number of pizzas ordered for a party in Thurston Hall and how he paid for the pizzas, in addition to exceeding the campaign-spending limit of $1,000.
"We're pissed off that he broke every rule he could and continues to get away with it because he has the support of people on the Student Court and people on the inside," Simon said.
Kapoor said the drawn-out election has increased his drive to become SA president.
"It's been a situation that has proven to me and strengthened my resolve," he said. "I want to be SA president even more and look forward to it even more."
-Kate Stepan contributed to this report.