In a hearing Wednesday night, the Election Supervisory Board penalized Executive Alliance candidates Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu for failing to disclose the purchase of roses, Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies and Lunchables on their campaign finance forms. Defeated presidential candidate David Maly said he now intends to ask Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly and the Student Government Judicial Court to investigate the possibility of election fraud.
Although Rotnofsky and Mandalapu will not be required to pay a fine, their campaign spending limit will be reduced by 10 percent, or $102, from their original $1,020 limit.
“The Election Supervisory Board has determined that the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu campaign did fail to disclose the cost of New Jersey pink roses, brownies, and lunchables given out to candidates at the candidate debate, and this failure to report shall result in a Class A violation and levy of a 10% fine,” the board’s resolution read.
Maly, who filed the complaint, said he inquired about Rotnofsky and Mandalapu’s financial disclosures after the SG debate last week. During the debate, Rotnofsky and Mandalapu served snacks to the debate moderators and to the other candidates, including Maly, and also gifted each with a “New Jersey pink rose.”
Maly said he was not satisfied with the ESB’s handling of the complaint. He alleges that Rotnofsky and Mandalapu originally disclosed the cost of the Lunchables, but not the roses or the Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies. Although the cost of the Lunchables was deleted from the disclosure documents after what a board member described as an "administrative error," Maly said he believes Rotnofsky and Mandalapu clearly understood that all three items, which add up to less than $30, should have been disclosed. Further, Maly said, he believes the Lunchables' removal from the document was "no accident."
Maly said at the hearing, Rotnofsky and Mandalapu repeatedly claimed they didn't realize any of the purchases should be disclosed, and therefore did not disclose them, though records show they did originally include the Lunchables.
“I think it’s clear that there’s fraud going on,” Maly said.
Rotnofsky said he did not realize the under-$30 purchase would count as a campaign cost because he gave the brownies and flowers to the other candidates to be nice.
“It was as a gesture of goodwill to the other candidates and moderators because it was going to be a long debate,” Rotnofsky said. “It was not to advance our campaign or our campaign prospects.”
According to their campaign finance documents, Rotnofsky and Mandalapu have spent a total of $53.88 on their campaign — for two domain names and six bags of Hershey’s Kisses. Mandalapu said adding the New Jersey pink roses, Lunchables and brownies to their expenses would still put them at under one-fifteenth of the total allotted spending amount.
Maly is simultaneously pursuing a complaint against Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi, the other candidates in the runoff election. To read more about his second allegation of wrongdoing, click here.
For a full recap of platform points, candidate descriptions and Texan coverage of the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu campaign, click here.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional information since its original publication. The headline has been changed.