Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara will be unable to reenter the Student Government presidential and vice presidential race after the SG Judicial Court declined to hear their appeal of the Election Supervisory Board’s disqualification.
The Election Supervisory Board disqualified Gardner and Guevara on Wednesday for including Student Events Center presidential candidate Carissa Kelley in their promotional materials, which include pictures, fliers and media on their website. Gardner and Guevara appealed the decision Thursday night and claimed Kelley told them she had no intention of running when the media was produced on Jan. 21. With Gardner’s disqualification, along with the disqualification of Yaman Desai and the withdrawal of Ryan Shingledecker, John Lawler and Thor Lund are the only remaining candidates in the SG presidential race.
Students had until Feb. 12 to sign up to run in the campus-wide elections and could begin campaigning Feb. 15.
Alexander Jones, Gardner and Guevara’s campaign manager, defended the campaign on Wednesday and said the complaint filed did not have genuine intentions, according to the board’s minutes. Jones also said the board had approved the campaign materials before they were distributed, so the Gardner campaign had no reason to believe they were problematic. Jasmine Kyles, who supported former candidates Yaman Desai and Whitney Langston, submitted the complaint on Tuesday.
“Since the disqualification, all the Yaman and Whitney media [produced] under Kyles has remained up online,” Jones said, according to the minutes. “This is evidence of her continued loyalty and support of said campaign.”
Jones said Desai and Langston continue to publicly oppose the Gardner and Guevara campaign. He said although Gardner and Guevara knew about the violation beforehand, it would have been difficult to completely rectify the damage or remove the materials.
“We believe that this complaint is an attack intended to hurt our campaign, not to ensure universal campaigning fairness,” Jones said. “We admit that it was a mistake that Kelley is included in our media.”
In a statement, Gardner said the campaign believes the board made the wrong decision and will continue to pursue its goals for the student body.
“We believe that the ESB was self-evidently incorrect in their decision,” he said in the statement. “Our team is not satisfied but are so very proud of our effort. We will continue our campaign to Unite Texas.”
Kyles said she had removed herself from the Desai and Langston campaign and she filed the complaint because she found it to be a violation of the code.
Kelley said she does not endorse Gardner and Guevara publicly and she had no intent to run at the time of the photos. She said she participated as a friend and the alleged violation was not deliberate.
Under the Election Code, only the presidential and vice presidential candidates may campaign together and any association between candidates of any kind will not be tolerated and can result in immediate disqualification.
The board stated the complaint had been filed in a reasonable amount of time to justify disqualification. It also said Gardner and Guevara have been in violation since they began campaigning on Feb. 15 and have made no known effort to remove or distort Kelley’s presence in their media.
Board chair Eric Nimmer said he was not surprised the SG Judicial Court had chosen not to grant Gardner and Guevara the appeal because the board had already gone through the disqualification procedures correctly. The Judicial Court can only act in situations when the board acts improperly. They have no authority to reverse decisions or alter sentences based on the content of a case.
“Everything [we] did I deemed as reasonable,” Nimmer said. “You do not have grounds for appeal unless there was a procedural error.”
Lawler said it was unfortunate that the race had to come down to this point and offered sympathy for those who participated in the Gardner and Guevara campaign. Lawler said he feels the disqualification will have a negative impact on voter turnout and SG’s image for next year.
“It’s unfortunate SG had to face these scandals yet another year,” he said. “But we encourage student voters to look past the scandals of today and look forward to what the two remaining campaigns will offer tomorrow.”
Lund said the disqualification was unfortunate but he will continue to move forward with his campaign. Lund said he offered his best to Gardner and Guevara.
Printed on Friday, February 24, 2012 as: Court denies Gardner, Guevara appeal