The Election Supervisory Board held a public hearing Monday afternoon to determine whether Student Government executive alliance Isaiah Carter and Sydney O’Connell violated election code in late January by sending unsolicited campaign emails.
Several emails were sent around midnight Jan. 23 to multiple freshmen who had no personal connections to Carter and had never given their email directly to the Carter-O’Connell campaign. Three students filed a complaint to the ESB to instigate a hearing.
The complainants were economics freshman Eliav Terk, engineering fifth-year Amber Camilleri and Jessica Dorsey, international relations and global studies freshman. Both Terk and Dorsey received the original email.
Economics junior Greg Fantin, who spoke on behalf of the complainants, said Carter should be punished for three election code violations: unsolicited use of emails, early campaigning and illegal use of a third-party source.
“The issue at hand is the fact that (the email) was completely unsolicited,” Fantin said. “No one in the list and no one in question had any former experience or statement saying they wished to partake in this campaign.”
Carter said he acquired the email addresses during summer orientation when students expressed interest in SG.
“I did not have an unfair advantage,” Carter said. “Every single email that was inputted into that drive was an email where at least 95 percent of them were done when I was standing within five feet.”
Carter said he relied on previous ESB hearings and precedent when reaching out to students.
“Again, precedent of last year says that it is not a violation of the code if you reach out to someone that you do not know well,” Carter said.
In last year’s campus elections, UT law professor Jeana Lungwitz affirmed ESB’s decision to rule a Class B violation on the Kevin Helgren-Binna Kim campaign for using the word “support” in a message to an unsolicited third party. The Carter-O’Connell campaign email did not contain the word “support.”
“Every single one of those emails, never will you see the word ‘support,’ (and) never will you see a platform point,” Carter said. “The email specifically said, ‘Hello, my name is Isaiah, this is Sydney, (and) we are reaching out to you because you showed interest in Student Government. If you would like to get involved in our campaign, please respond.’ That was it.”
The message, however, did not address the fact that the students expressed interest in SG at summer orientation.
Terk said it is evident that Carter violated the “personal and individual” clause of the code because of the fact that Carter mistakenly identified Fantin as Terk when Fantin sat down in his seat at the start of the hearing.
“The fact that you’re unable to distinguish who we were even though (you) apparently stood five feet from us and discussed Student Government interest … is a testament to the fact that (you don’t know us personally),” Terk said.
After 30 minutes, ESB chair Catrin Watts adjourned the hearing and said the board has 24 hours to send out a written notice of the resolution to state whether there was a code violation of not.