Trivial Expenditures, Grave Consequences

In the waning hours of this Student Government election, 68 seconds before the deadline for such matters, a complaint was filed with the Election Supervisory Board (ESB) by the campaign of Izzy Fanucci and Elena Ivanova against their main rivals, Camron Goodman and Amie Jean. The complaint was simple, Izzy and Elena alleged that Camron and Amie had failed to properly report a number of campaign workers, a plywood sign, and the paint used to decorate it. The possible consequences were dire, Class-D for disqualification. Both campaigns had a lot to lose: Camron and Amie could be forced out of a race where they stood a real chance while Izzy and Elena could lose public trust by appearing to split hairs to gain a sure victory. The opinion among the audience, the largest I’ve ever seen at an ESB hearing, was that the night would be long and stressful.

The hearing to decide the validity of the claims occurred at the only time the required quorum of ESB members could be met, eleven o’clock, the night after voting closed. Izzy and Ian McEntee, their agent, presented their perceived violations while making clear that they only wanted the code to be adhered to. Camron led with the response that their campaign had misreported the workers due to a misunderstanding about the form and they had updated it after the disclosure period, the plywood was mislabeled as three-quarters plywood plank instead of a panel, and the paint had indeed not been reported.

A strange vibe hung in the air. Clarifying questions from the ESB would come, but Camron himself had validated the complaints and even confirmed he was the last to review the reports in question. Like a congressman getting a speeding ticket, the violation was clear but no one was sure what this would mean for the system as a whole. Just to clarify, the plywood cost less than $15, the paint not much more, and the misreporting of workers  seemed to be trivial. One onlooker quietly described the hearing as “disgusting” and “infinitely petty,” but a violation is a violation and the code is clear on what’s required. The decision now lay at the feet of the ESB. Even if they avoided an outright Class-D, any lower fines high enough could push Camron and Amie over 120 percent budget, which code defines as an immediate disqualification.

In a follow-up question from ESB, Ian stated that the violation had only been submitted after much internal debate where they decided that ignoring violations now would set a bad precedent for future elections. Many might call that an excuse for taking a potshot at their opponents; I would have too if I had left when the ESB recessed for deliberation. But I didn’t — I ended up staying in the SAC with both Camron and the other campaign for somewhere in the ballpark of three hours waiting on the ruling. A few things became clear both through my eavesdropping and direct conversation: first, there really was no ill-will between the respective campaigns; they talked quite jovially despite the proceedings and after Camron had to leave, Izzy would describe him to me as a good and sincere person. And second, Izzy, Elena, and Ian truly didn’t seem to want a damning verdict, time-after-time speaking with fear that it might be a Class-D; it was clear that they wanted a good, clean race (especially after last year’s scandals), with Izzy especially concerned that the decision would be too harsh.

Around 2:30 a.m., Dakota and Mariano, the ESB Chair and Vice-Chair, came in. The final ruling: three Class-A fines, five percent each for the workers, the plywood, and the paint, plus $20 for the paint itself. Camron and Amie’s campaign budget totaled at 118 percent, two percent beneath disqualification. I asked Izzy for her final thoughts: “This is the best outcome that could have come from this.” I think I believe her, and I hope she was right.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s