Updated 12:45 a.m.
The Joint Elections Committee filed a lawsuit against Student Association President Jason Lifton, alleging that he signed a contradictory and unenforceable election rule charter into law.
The Senate approved the JEC’s charter Dec. 7 – the document that lays out the ground rules for SA elections. However, the charter stripped the JEC – the body that oversees the SA elections for fairness – of their power to file campaign violations against candidates.
The lawsuit – filed with the Student Court late Wednesday night – says this provision is problematic because the JEC members are the only people allowed to see candidate expenditures, and are unable file a violation when a candidate exceeds the spending limit. The JEC is filing suit to strike the parts of the provisions that do not allow the investigative staff of the JEC to file complaints.
On Feb. 1, Chief JEC Investigator Willard Applefeld informed the SA Senate of the charter’s inconsistencies. The Senate voted not to change the JEC’s charter, noting that in the past the JEC has overstepped its boundaries.
The following week, Student Acitivies Center Director and adviser to the committee Tim Miller addressed the Senate reiterating the inconsistencies, yet the Senate refused to budge.
Candidate registration begins Monday and, according to the JEC, “it needs to be determined by then whether or not the investigative staff will be allowed to file complaints.”
In a statement Wednesday night, Lifton said he had not yet been sent the complaint and is unsure of what the JEC’s grounds for filing are.
“Ultimately this is a bill that has been passed out of the Rules Committee, and the senators on that committee have deemed it constitutional,” Lifton said.
JEC Chair Galen Petruso reiterated in a statement that the charter prevents the JEC from properly investigating and enforcing campaign rules.
“It is the duty of the JEC to preserve the integrity of elections and to ensure that they are fair and free from corruption.” Petruso said. “Because President Lifton and the SA passed through this new charter even after ignoring our legitimate grievances and concerns, we felt the only option we had left was to initiate judicial proceedings against the SA in order to rectify these unconstitutional actions by the SA.”
Student Court Chief Judge Jen Goldstein did not immediately return request for comment.