A day after being reinstated, Student Government presidential candidate Madison Gardner and running mate Antonio Guevara stood before the Election Supervisory Board yet again for complaints filed against their campaign.
Austin Carlson, SG law school representative, filed a complaint against Gardner and Guevara calling for their disqualification Monday evening. Carlson claims the candidates did not accurately report campaign expenses and intentionally falsified their financial documents. The Board heard the complaint at a public hearing Tuesday night.
The board has until Thursday night to determine the consequences the campaign will face. Currently, elections for executive alliances are scheduled for March 28 and 29.
Carlson filed five counts of financial violations against Gardner and Guevara. He claims they received professional help on their website, although the Board ruled they were not in violation of this on Feb. 20, bought multiple domain names while not using the one listed on their financial statement, held an event where they displayed unaccounted promotional material with their names on it, did not account for several painted boards with their slogan “Unite Texas” and did not account for painting supplies evident in photos on their website. The candidates currently use madisonantonio.com, which cost about $24, but submitted a receipt for madisonandantonio.com, which cost about $17.
Carlson said he filed the complaint as an individual student and not an SG representative. He said although UT has reinstated the pair to review the association clause of the Election Code for which they were previously disqualified, the financial rules of the code are clear.
According to the Election Code, any candidate who acquires more than 20 percent of their campaign spending limit in fines will be automatically disqualified.
Carlson said if Gardner gets disqualified for financial violations, Gardner will not be able to sue to get back on the ballot. Regarding whether UT will allow the Board to disqualify Gardner and Guevara again, Carlson said UT has no choice.
“If the ESB fines them and the [Judicial] Court confirms that, I don’t see why the University won’t honor that,” Carlson said. “That’s the problem, if the candidate has enough money and they don’t like the outcome [of a decision], they can sue.”
Carlson said he is not committed to any candidate in the race at the moment and is filing of his own accord.
Aakash Kumar, a supply chain management senior who worked on Abel Mulugheta and Sameer Desai’s campaign last year, represented Gardner and Guevara to the ESB. Kumar argued Carlson was nitpicking at the rules and using them against Gardner and Guevara.
Kumar said contrary to Carlson’s argument, Gardner and Guevara did provide receipts for paint supplies and boards. Kumar also said the T-shirt Carlson listed as an accounted promotional expense, on which Gardner wrote his and Guevara’s name in paint, was given to Gardner for free at a local event.
He said the Board had already previously ruled the candidates not to be in violation for using a Web consultant and bringing the charge up again would be the equivalent to double jeopardy.
Eric Nimmer, Election Supervisory Board chair, asked Gardner why he did not include the 10 percent fine the Board issued to their campaign on Feb. 20. The Board fined the candidates for renting wood from a local fraternity house and failing to list its market value in their financial disclosure. Gardner said he submitted a new financial disclosure hours after being reinstated yesterday, and not including it was an honest mistake.
“There are two parts I see to intent,” Nimmer said at the hearing. “One is malicious and two is negligence.”
Gardner said he feels he and Guevara have run a clean and ethical campaign. He said it is tough to know how the Board will decide, but he hopes they take all the facts into account.
Kumar said he thinks the campaign made a mistake in accidentally turning in the wrong receipt and forgetting to report the 10 percent fine on their financial disclosure and should be issued a fine, but not another disqualification.
“Nitpicking affects campaigning and how much the candidates can dedicate to a campaign,” Kumar said. “It’s very difficult to watch out for the minute details. People are not going to run if it’s this complicated.”
Printed on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 as: SG candidates charged after reinstatement