Susuni laps opponents in campaign spending

Newly elected Student Association president Julia Susuni spent more than double what all her competitors put toward their campaigns combined to win last week’s election, according to unofficial candidate estimates.

The losing presidential candidates together spent half of the $968 Susuni reported Friday to the SA’s Joint Election Committee. She spent nearly $300 on camera equipment, $280 on dozens of T-shirts, $100 on buttons and $150 on posters.

But the other three contenders, sophomore Mike Morgan, senior Hugo Scheckter and freshman Tywan Wade, did not officially report what they spent on their bids, breaking campus campaign rules. The JEC combs through candidate expenditures to ensure they do not top the $1,000 spending limit.

Morgan, Scheckter and Wade told The Hatchet they spent about $300, $80 and $40, respectively, trying to secure the SA presidency.

Chair of the JEC Jordan Thomas said he tried to pursue the violations, but said that ultimately the candidates would not face repercussions for failing to report their finances.

“We try and make sure they ran a fair campaign and they gave their opponent a fair chance,” Thomas said.

Wade, a freshman, and Morgan, a sophomore, would not be penalized if they chose to run again, JEC vice chair Jordan Hill said.

All presidential and executive vice presidential candidates reported their campaign costs to the JEC last year.

Winner of the executive vice presidency Kostas Skordalos spent about $400 less than his contender, sophomore Mike Adam. Skordalos spent $419, about a quarter of which went toward his campaign website, with the rest going toward posters, flyers and palm cards.

Adam spent about half of his $844 total on 700 campaign-themed shot glasses, which he distributed while dorm-storming.

“It was nice being able to go through all of the residence halls so far and give a tangible object for people to remember my name by,” Adam said.

Morgan, who came in second place with 20 percent of the vote, said he didn’t think it was important to report his finances because the race had already been decided.

“There is no need to report finances since we won’t be contesting the results,” Morgan said.

Scheckter said he did not report because he didn’t want to calculate exactly how much he spent running a campaign to become the monarch of GW. He told The Hatchet in mid-March that he had spent $80 for posters and a king costume, but he declined this week to provide an updated tally.

“It’s embarrassing that I spent so much on a joke campaign,” Scheckter said.

Wade said he spent $40 for posters at the Marvin Center, though he also announced partnerships with Ultrabar and Whole Foods Market to offer discounts to his supporters. Hill said he did not know if discounts would be considered campaign fundraising or not because it had never been tried before.

Former JEC chair Phil Gardner said there are no repercussions for those who fail to report their spending. He added that there were some problems with how the JEC ran this year, which made it less effective than last year’s committee.

Gardner, now a graduate student, said he wouldn’t have allowed Scheckter to remain on the ballot if the situation had arisen last year, because the SA constitution states that to serve as president, the student must be enrolled for the length of their term. Scheckter, a senior, will graduate after completing courses this summer.

He also questioned the JEC’s decision to limit voting times to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. between Wednesday and Thursday, preventing students from voting overnight. Thomas said the JEC did not want campaigns to hassle voters at night.

“Hugo’s campaign was a special one,” Thomas said, defending the JEC’s decision. “He filled out all the paperwork and did everything to be an actual candidate, and therefore we could not discredit him or remove him from the ballot for just rumors or spoken word.”

The election body removed former presidential candidate Kwasi Agyeman a month before the race. Agyeman, who would have graduated in the Class of 2012, is finishing his undergraduate degree and could switch to a graduate program in the fall. The SA constitution does not allow students to run if they plan to change degree programs during their term.

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