Apr 182008
 
Authors: J. David McSwane

A former vice-presidential candidate on Thursday vowed to challenge the student government election results, claiming the race was “nasty,” “dramatic” and unfair to challengers who ultimately lost.

And as the Associated Students of CSU is poised to receive its second ever elections appeal – both within the same week – emerging details of a bitter battle between campaigns, former staff and current staff paint the picture of a rattled student government.

Estavan Jaimes, assistant director of diversity and outreach for ASCSU, vows to re-submit a challenge to the election that was dismissed on a technicality by the Supreme Court Wednesday.

Jaimes drafted a petition virtually identical to the one submitted by student Edward Modec, who charged that missteps by the Elections Committee nullified the election results and that Elections Manager Emily Laue “defied the ASCSU Constitution.”

“The presidential election should not have been as nasty and dramatic as it was,” Jaimes said Thursday. “Many times (ASCSU) thinks they’re above the law and can do whatever they want.”

Modec was ruled ineligible to challenge the election Wednesday because he isn’t considered a full-time student under the ASCSU Constitution.

Jaimes said he plans to submit his challenge today, with Modec as a co-petitioner. With a qualified petitioner, the second appeal stands a good chance of making it to a hearing with the ASCSU Supreme Court – potentially overturning the election results.

The Elections Committee closely watched Smoot and his vice president-elect, Quinn Girrens, throughout the contested election, Jaimes said. But he says they failed to provide justice for the other campaigns when Smoot and Girrens were charged with slander, harassment and violating campaign finance code.

Smoot denies the alleged improprieties, asserting that he won by a landslide victory – The candidates swept three other tickets by more than 1,100 votes – earlier this month because students connected with his campaign.

“We were elected by a record-breaking majority,” Smoot said. “None of those things coming up made a difference in the election.”

During the election, Smoot and Girrens faced disqualification for a budget discrepancy surrounding a free concert they hosted on the LSC Plaza – an expenditure that nearly placed them above their spending limit of $2,000.

Faced with ending his campaign short, Smoot made a harassing phone call to Jaimes, Laue said.

“Taylor had called Estavan and said that because he was being kicked off, all his supporters would go to Zane (Guilfoyle) and Seth (Walter), and that he wanted to see Jarred (Quintana) and Estavan lose,” Laue said.

Smoot was found guilty of harassment – violating the elections contract and ASCSU Code of Ethics – by the Elections Committee and was fined $20.

“I do feel that they were really lenient,” Jaimes said.

But Smoot said the phone call wasn’t harassment at all, but rather “a political suggestion.”

“I shouldn’t have made the phone call. I was upset at the time,” Smoot said. “(Jaimes), being the wonderful character that he is filed a complaint.”

Earlier in the election, an unknown campaign staffer wearing a “Taylor and Quinn” T-shirt stumped in a classroom, blasting Quintana and Jaimes’ campaign, Laue said.

But no corrective action was taken against Smoot and Girrens because nothing in the Elections Code prohibited slanderous statements, Laue said.

On April 1, Laue sent an e-mail to candidates that read: “The Elections Committee has come across a loop-hole in the ASCSU by-laws . Under no circumstances will any member or representative of a campaign engage in slanderous activities including an ad hominem attack, or personal harassment against any other representative or member of a campaign.”

“We made a personal and public apology to (Quintana), and he accepted,” Smoot said, adding that he didn’t know any of the details of that particular incident.

Smoot maintains he ran a fair campaign and isn’t focused on the appeal or the grumblings of other ASCSU staff.

“I’ve got a job to do,” he said.

However, Modec, the former ASCSU Supreme Court chief justice who submitted the first ever appeal to an election, says the issue isn’t Smoot’s campaign tactics, but rather violations made by the Election Committee.

“It all comes back to the policies and procedures,” Modec said. “This was bound to happen. Somebody has to say something.”

Laue denies allegations that the Election Committee broke policies and says they “have done everything by the book” and “gave 110 percent to the election.”

“We’re dealing with an election code that should have been updated years ago,” she said. “It has many holes in it.”

Editor-in-Chief J. David McSwane can be reached at editor@collegian.com

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