As five students sought the MForward presidential nomination, several candidates tried to strike deals with each other behind the scenes in order to get endorsements and then limit the fallout from the contested nomination fight.

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, who wished to remain anonymous, LSA sophomore Louis Mirante, MForward’s vice presidential candidate, met with Public Policy junior Kevin Mersol-Barg, the OurMichigan party’s candidate for president, before Mersol-Barg announced his candidacy. During the meeting, he supposedly offered Mersol-Barg — who originally ran for the presidential nomination at MForward’s convention — a position on CSG executive board in return for Mersol-Barg not running for CSG president against Aditya Sathi, MForward’s candidate for president and LSA junior.

“Louis approached Kevin and took him out for coffee,” the source said. “(Mirante) foresaw the elections getting ugly and offered (Mersol-Barg) an executive position as an incentive not to run against him and Aditya.”

The source was concerned that such negotiations would disrupt the election’s democratic process, and are being used to boost MForward’s position in the upcoming election.

“I feel like (MForward members are) trying to use the executive positions to leverage themselves to gain support rather than giving everybody an equal chance,” the source said.

Mirante acknowledged that he met with Mersol-Barg a week after MForward’s nomination convention on Feb. 3, but denied that he sought to strike a deal with him.

“I didn’t offer him a spot on exec; it wasn’t really my role,” Mirante said. “I’m not the presidential candidate. I’m not the person who makes those decisions.”

Mersol-Barg also acknowledged the meeting, but said they did not meet to discuss politics. Rather, they were coming back from an extra-credit event for a class and that the conversation “happened to turn to party politics.”

Mersol-Barg did say that his future with MForward and the executive branch was discussed.

“(Mirante) was very much interested in me playing a role in their respective or hypothetical administration, but I don’t know exactly what that would have looked like,” Mersol-Barg said.

Mersol-Barg also said no deal was made, though he was lauded for his potential as an executive candidate.

“He didn’t offer a position outright,” Mersol-Barg said. “I do recall that he mentioned something about how I would be a good candidate for an executive position … but I don’t really know if it was a quid pro quo proposition.”

Mirante approached LSA junior Aditya Sathi, MForward’s presidential candidate, and LSA sophomore Omar Hashwi, an independent candidate for vice president, and attempted to bargain with them before MForward’s nomination convention, according to the source.

Sathi and Hashwi ran in MForward’s nomination convention for president in January. Mirante was originally on the ballot for the nomination, but did not decide to run.

The source added that Sathi and Haswhi sought to strike a deal with Mirante that if he didn’t run against them at the MForward convention, he could automatically become the vice presidential candidate with whoever won the nomination.

Mirante acknowledged that he had met with both Sathi and Hashwi before the convention, but denied any intentions to negotiate with them for the vice presidency.

“With most of the stuff that is said in student government, there is at least a kernel of truth to everything,” Mirante said. “I did speak with Aditya, and I did speak with Omar, but it wasn’t exactly the bargaining situation.”

Mirante said he did not seek out any of the candidates, but that he was approached by Sathi, Hashwi and Mersol-Barg at different points before the MForward convention, noting he withdrew a week before the event — a move that was common knowledge inside the party, and led to offers of potential vice president candidacies.

“I had made it public that I was not a contender for the spot just through word of mouth, and I was approached by Aditya Sathi who sat me down, explained his platform, asked for my support and offered me the spot of vice president, were he to win,” Mirante said.

Sathi, Hashwi and Mersol-Barg all expressed an interest in Mirante as their running mate at the pre-convention meetings, Mirante said. While Mirante said the candidates offered positions, he didn’t request anything of them.

On the day of the convention, Mirante said he met with Hashwi to discuss his platform.

“I told Omar that I wasn’t willing to support him at that time but that I would accept the vice presidential nomination were he to offer it to me,” Mirante said. “There wasn’t really a bargaining situation there.”

Hashwi said no plans were finalized at their meeting, but they both felt that Mirante would be a mutually beneficial choice as a running mate.

“(Mirante) said that he would be interested in being my vice president if I won,” Hashwi said. “I considered it … I was interested in Louis potentially being a vice president.”

That day, Mirante also met with Mersol-Barg, who was still seeking the MForward nomination.

“I was also offered the position of vice president of Kevin’s campaign were he to win, which I also accepted,” Mirante said.

Nonetheless, Mirante said he only accepted hypothetical offers, not binding agreements.

Sathi, Hashwi and Mersol-Barg acknowledged that they had met with Mirante and that no sort of deal had been struck, but Sathi and Mersol-Barg both said they would never offer a position to anyone before the election.

“Before the convention, there were people … trying to figure out ‘if you vote for me, I’ll make you this position,’” Mersol-Barg said. “I have never done that kind of thing.”

Sathi similarly said he was approached with potential deals.

“I’m not promising things to anybody,” Sathi said. “That’s not something I’m interested in doing whatsoever.”

Instead of offering him a vice-presidential candidacy, Sathi said he asked Mirante if he would “consider being on the ticket,” and said Mirante said he would consider the offer.

The source also said an executive position was promised by Sathi to Sean Walser, the chair of the CSG External Relations Commission and the chair of MForward. The executive position would have been a new position created by Sathi that would act as liaison to local, state and federal governments.

“In their platform they have a position for an outreach director and that position is supposed to go Sean Walser,” the source said. “Apparently he was told this before the nominating convention even happened.”

Sathi said he does plan to establish a director of governmental affairs executive position, but that he never promised it to Walser, who also denied that Sathi promised him any executive position.

“People say things, everybody says things,” Sathi said. “It’s a campaign. It’s an emotionally driven thought process.”

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article didn’t include LSA sophomore Louis Mirante’s first name or title.

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