The University’s Election Supervisory Board, which supervises all campus-wide elections, determined that one Student Government campaign team failed to comply with election code by attempting to solicit the support of Alexander Chase, a member of the editorial board at The Daily Texan.
Zachary Long, ESB vice chair, said Chase brought forth a complaint stating he received a Facebook message asking for support from a Helgren-Kim campaign agent.
“Campaigning begins Feb. 17 at 12:01 a.m.,” Long said. “Before that date, campaign teams can recruit members of the student body to be a part of their team so they have an outreach team when campaigning begins, but campaign teams are not allowed to directly campaign by soliciting or asking for votes.”
Long said the ESB had to determine whether the Helgren-Kim team violated the election code by asking Chase for support.
“What it came down to was the meaning of the word ‘support,’” Long said. “The Helgren-Kim campaign said they were just asking Alexander Chase to be on their team, but Election Supervisory Board decided that using the word ‘support’ could be interpreted in such a way that the Helgren-Kim campaign team was asking for Chase’s vote, which is a direct violation of the Student Government election code.”
Long said the ESB classified the team’s action as a Class B violation and imposed a moratorium upon Helgren-Kim’s campaigning until Feb. 18 at 12:01 p.m.
Helgren-Kim can appeal to the Student Government Judicial Court within 24 hours of the ESB’s decision, according to the election code. The court can uphold the decision or issue a new one.
Kevin Helgren, executive alliance candidate and neuroscience senior, said his team is planning to file an appeal and would prefer to hold off on commentary because he does not want Judicial Court to be influenced by anything beyond the facts.
“I am giving this commentary willingly, but we as an executive alliance feel pressured by The Daily Texan to submit commentary prior to filing an appeal with the judicial court,” Helgren said.
Helgren said his team is familiar with the election code.
Adit Bior, a member of the Helgren-Kim campaign team whom the complaint was filed against, served as the Longhorn legislative aid and later as representative of the College of Liberal Arts.
“Adit’s familiarity with this election code is extensive, and the notion that she did something to violate this election code makes very little sense to me,” Helgren said.
Helgren said his campaign team did not ask Chase for tangible support.
“We used the word support, not sponsorship or endorsement, for a reason,” Helgren said. “Some people table and wear buttons, and others with less time support the campaign by receiving emails or having conversations with friends. We use the word support because we don’t want to deter anyone from taking an active part in the campaign.”
Helgren said he and his team did not know Chase personally and did not know he was a candidate for editor-in-chief at The Daily Texan because filing records for Texas Student Media board are not made public in the same way Student Government filing records are. Helgren said his team was not asking for an endorsement from The Daily Texan and that Chase was messaged individually as a member of the student body.
Chase, a Plan II junior, said the campaign team’s decision to contact him would constitute forming an illegal alliance if they had been aware of it.
“In my ethical bounds and my desire to protect the integrity of The Daily Texan, I felt I had no choice but to report this immediately and consider any and all potential violations this might have caused,” Chase said.
Chase said the language Helgren-Kim campaign used in the original hearing made it clear they knew they were breaking the rules.
“The fact that they’re choosing to appeal shows they’re trying to avoid the consequences of their actions,” Chase said. “I will be more than ready to state my case even more clearly in the appeal hearing.”