Student Association Executive Vice Presidential candidate Logan Dobson received one penalty after two nights of Joint Elections Committee hearings this week, while rival Rob Maxim has so far received none, JEC officials said this week – but student candidates aren’t out of the woods yet.
The JEC, which oversees the student elections held last week, spent Monday and Tuesday holding violations hearings after sorting through about half of its record number of complaints last week. The body held a second round of closed-door probable cause hearings Wednesday night, and any potential penalties will likely be doled out Thursday and Friday.
Dobson was given a penalty Monday night for having too many campaign posters on the Marvin Center. EVP candidates are limited to 30 posters on the Marvin Center, and the JEC said Dobson had 32.
Maxim was cleared of an electronic communications complaint after a friend posted a link to Maxim’s EVP Web site on another friend’s Facebook wall. The decision came down to whether the friend who posted it was an “authorized agent” of Maxim’s campaign.
The Hatchet previously reported that Maxim risked being disqualified from the runoff ballot if he were to be convicted of all of the violations put forth against him. After he was acquitted, Maxim said he thought it sent “an important message to the student voters.”
“Having the candidates they selected on the [runoff] ballot is an important step in maintaining the credibility of this election,” Maxim said, adding that he plans to mobilize students and get the word out about the upcoming runoff.
Dobson said he’s “not yet in the clear” because of the approximately 70 more violations the JEC has to sort through.
“I’m sure I’ll have to deal with more violations, but I’m confident that I ran a clean campaign,” Dobson said, adding that the process has been “fair and efficient.”
Josh Goldstein, who placed fourth in the EVP race last week, was given three penalties for postering-day violations and for leaving campaign T-shirts in a sorority house, considered “unsolicited distribution.”
“There was no way that I could even entertain the possibility of getting disqualified when I ran a clean campaign,” Goldstein said about contesting his violations with the JEC even after losing the election.
“Candidates appreciate having their proverbial ‘day in court,'” JEC chairman Jake Chervinsky said of the process.
Chervinsky said he thinks the JEC has done a good job of “not getting bogged down in hyper-technical interpretations of campaign rules.”
He said that of the first 58 complaints the JEC looked at, only six were prosecuted in violations hearings. For the rest, either no probable cause was found or the candidate did not contest the penalty.
Since the election, candidates have also turned in expenditure forms detailing how much money they spent during their campaign. The two candidates for president and four for EVP had a $1,000 spending limit, while candidates for lower offices had reduced limits.
Presidential candidate Xochitl Sanchez, who lost to Jason Lifton, spent the most out of all of the six presidential and executive vice presidential candidates, listing expenditures totaling $973. EVP candidate Jon Binetti, who placed third in his race, spent the second-highest amount with $844.
Goldstein listed spending $807, Maxim listed $770 and Lifton spent $693. Dobson reported the lowest amount, with $187.
For nearly all of the candidates, the most expensive items listed were campaign T-shirts and posters. Sanchez also included a full day’s Zipcar rental, metered parking and a rented bunny suit in her report.
Anyone can file a complaint if they believe a candidate has violated the JEC charter, like going over a spending limit or violating postering regulations. They must do so within three days of witnessing the violation and submit it to the JEC’s chief investigator. The JEC received “a record number” of complaints this year, according to chairman Jake Chervinsky.
Probable Cause Hearing
Within five days of receiving a complaint, the JEC meets in executive session and the chief investigator recommends to the committee whether or not there is enough evidence to prosecute a candidate for violating the charter. This year, probable cause hearings were split over two days to handle the volume of complaints received.
During the candidates’ “day in court” they are faced with the evidence against them and are allowed to provide witnesses and speak in their own defense. The JEC has already held two nights of violations hearings and will hold more this week, based on the findings of the second probable cause hearing, which occurred Wednesday.
If a candidate is convicted of the violation, they are sentenced to a certain number of penalties, depending on the charter rule that was broken. If a candidate accrues six penalties, they will be disqualified.