Carter-O’Connell campaign sanctioned for Election Code violation

Kayla Meyertons and Will Clark

The UT Election Supervisory Board ruled that the Isaiah Carter and Sydney O’Connell executive alliance violated the Election Code by mass distributing unsolicited emails to a group of freshmen before the sanctioned campaign period, according to a resolution released Tuesday.

The action was ruled a Class C violation, and the campaign was sanctioned with a $27.50 fine and a 24-hour moratorium on campaigning, which went into effect Monday night at 11:59 p.m.

According to the resolution, the ESB has typically ruled the individual recruitment of campaign workers as a Class A violation of approximately 5 percent of that year’s SG executive alliance spending limit. The transmission of unsolicited emails has also typically resulted in a Class B moratorium on campaigning, with the Class A fine and the Class B violation resulting in a Class C violation.

According to sub-chapter B of the Election Code, there are four classifications of code violations. A Class A violation results in a fine, a Class B violation results in a moratorium on campaigning, a Class C violation results in a combination of a fine and a campaign moratorium, and a Class D violation results in disqualification. The board sets the time period of the campaigning moratorium based on past cases and the proximity of the ESB’s decision to the start of voting.

The resolution followed a hearing Monday afternoon to address the concerns of complainants Jessica Dorsey, an international relations and global studies freshman, economics freshman Eliav Terk, and engineering senior Amber Camilleri. Terk and Dorsey received the original email from Carter’s campaign and said they do not personally know Carter.

Specifically, the campaign violated Section 8.2 of the code by failing to recruit campaign workers on a personal and individual basis. The campaign also violated Section 11-404 of the Institutional Rules on Student Service and Activities, Student Disciplines and Conduct by sending unsolicited messages to student emails acquired during the 2016 summer orientations while Carter was tabling for SG.

The resolution said the email addresses were obtained while Carter was working in an official capacity as SG chief of staff. The emails were gathered for the benefit of SG, not for the purpose of any one particular campaign or group of campaigns, according to the resolution.

“The role of a Student Government office is separate from that of an individual’s campaign, and a candidate should distance themselves from conflating their office with their personal campaign such that the separation between the two roles is unambiguous,” the resolution reads.

The resolution also determined the Carter-O’Connell campaign had no unfair advantage because all SG executive alliances had access to the list of emails. The Carter-O’Connell campaign was, however, the only campaign to utilize this email list for campaign purposes.

According to the Election Code, Carter and O’Connell had the right to appeal the ESB’s decision within 24 hours after the decision was announced, but no appeal was made.