The Michigan Progressive Party came under fire at a hearing last night in Michigan Student Assembly chambers when MPP’s LSA Student Government presidential nominee, Joe Golden, was charged with removing a Students 4 Michigan candidate flyer.
The Michigan Student Assembly Election Board held the hearing to determine whether Golden had actually removed the flyer and to decide on a punishment.
The committee found Golden guilty of removing a campaign flyer of Eric Li, an S4M candidate for MSA, from the door of a South Quad resident.
According to the board, because Golden is not running for an MSA position, he is not considered a “candidate,” but is instead considered to be working “in coordination” with MPP. Therefore, instead of assigning Golden a penalty of three demerits – which would be the punishment for a candidate as determined by MSA’s compiled code – the board randomly distributed the demerits to three members of MPP running for MSA offices. Three random MPP representative candidates – Jen Hsu, Saamir Rahman and Rachel Feldman – each received a single demerit.
According to MSA’s code, five demerits against a single candidate results in the candidate’s expulsion from the race.
Li, who brought the charge against Golden, said he was posting flyers on the seventh floor of South Quad when he noticed Golden in the hallway. Li said in his testimony that he saw Golden tampering with a flyer on a resident’s door. Li claimed he then confronted Golden and found him with one of Li’s campaign flyers.
Li took a picture of Golden holding the flyer with the camera on his cell phone.
Golden admitted he had taken down the flyer, but said he had been given permission to take it down by the resident upon whose door it had originally been placed.
At the hearing, he produced an e-mail from the resident confirming his story.
“Since I had permission to take down the flyer, this whole affair is pretty absurd,” Golden said in an interview.
MPP members said there were discrepancies between the MSA election code and the code governing LSA-SG elections. In LSA-SG’s code, candidates may remove campaign material as long as they have permission. But in MSA’s code, any removal or “moving” of another candidate’s campaign material is a violation of the code.
“The election director never informed LSA-SG candidates or party leadership that they were responsible for both codes,” said MPP party chair Jon Koller.
Li’s status as an MSA candidate, however, caused the issue to fall under the MSA election code, even though Golden is running for an LSA-SG position.
“Ignorance is not a legitimate cause to violate election code,” said S4M Communications Director Peter Borock, who acted as Li’s counsel in the hearing.
In his complaint to the board, Li brought similar charges against two MPP members, MSA representative candidates Art Reyes and Arvind Sohoni. The charge against Reyes was passed over at the hearing. Li withdrew the charge against Sohoni at the end of a preliminary hearing Monday night.