Due to four new official complaints filed over the course of the weekend, the final outcome of the March 26-27 Central Student Government elections may really be decided in hearings by the University Elections Commission Monday.
Business senior Matthew Fernandez, rep-manager for Make Michigan, filed complaints against three other parties. Make Michigan is suing FORUM, the Party Party and the House of Cards Party for alleged campaign finance violations. Additionally, Make Michigan filed a complaint against FORUM for allegedly using e-mail privileges irresponsibly.
The suit against FORUM regarding alleged e-mail use violations could result in the disqualification of the entire party if the UEC agrees with Make Michigan’s claims. All members running with FORUM, including executive and legislative candidates, would be entirely removed from the election.
LSA junior Domenic Rizzolo, outreach co-director for FORUM, sent a campaigning e-mail March 27 to the FORUM team and copied the CSG Executive Committee listserv. Since Rizzolo does not own this listerv, the suit alleges he is not proveauthorized to use the listserv for communication regarding campaign materials.
Business senior Michael Proppe, CSG president, and Public Policy junior Bobby Dishell, current CSG vice president and Make Michigan’s presidential candidate, are the only two people with authority to use the listerv for campaigning purposes under the rules of the election code. Proppe and Dishell are listed as owners of the “firstname.lastname@example.org” listerv on the MCommunity online directory.
Make Michigan argues that Rizzolo was working for the entire FORUM party since he also sent his e-mail to the “FORUM Captains” and “FORUM Representative Candidates 2014” listservs, both of which he owns.
According to the provisions of the election code, two to four demerits are assigned per party per recipient of an e-mail deemed in violation of the code. If the UEC finds FORUM to be guilty of this major infraction, up to 28 demerits will be assigned to the party because seven recipients received the e-mail in question.
The assignment of 28 demerits would result in immediate disqualification of the entire party. The election code states that if any party exceeds 10 demerits, that entire party is immediately removed from the election.
Social Work student Steven Richards, a FORUM legislative candidate, filed a similar suit last week against the Defend Affirmative Action Party, citing e-mail use violations. The UEC found DAAP not guilty on the basis that the sender of the e-mail in question was not proven to be officially affiliated with DAAP campaigning. The main evidence FORUM was able to provide against the defendant was that the sender of the e-mail was a close friend of a DAAP member.
Fernandez is calling for four demerits to be assigned to each party in question for campaign finance violations. Each demerit results in a 3-percent deduction of total votes. If found guilty by the UEC, FORUM, the Party Party and House of Cards Party will each have 12 percent of their total votes deducted.
Each party in question did not provide receipts for its campaign funding, an infraction outlined in the election code. The campaign disclosure forms list each party’s expenditures, yet at the close of campaigning, no receipts were published. The receipts would verify those expenditures.
Nine expenditures by FORUM, four by the Party Party and four by the House of Cards Party, are unaccounted for by receipts. Make Michigan claims that since such spending is outlined in the list of expenditures, the failure to provide corresponding receipts is in violation of the election code.
The recent complaints that are delaying the release of official election results have already received comment via social media. The Party Party and Make Michigan both officially acknowledged the conflict on Twitter late Saturday evening.
“A hotdog costume $18 / A rhythmic gymnastics wand $7 / Iron on t shirts $100 dollars / @MakeMichigan filing a suit about our expenses: Priceless,” read a tweet by the official Party Party Twitter account, @umpartyparty.
@MakeMichigan, the official account of Make Michigan, favorited the tweet .rep
Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly said demerits given to a party would result in a deduction of the party’s votes. Vote reductions only apply to demerits given to individual candidates.