In what some have called a “blatant violation” of student government’s election code, a presidential and vice presidential candidate launched their campaign Web site Sunday evening, more than 12 hours before the beginning of the campaigning period.
Although the Associated Students of CSU elections code stipulates that no campaigning could begin before 8 a.m. Monday, Shaun Reed, the presidential candidate running with vice presidential hopeful Melisa Panagakos, said Election Manager Zane Guilfoyle approved the launch.
Reed and Guilfoyle both said since the Reed/Panagakos campaign did not distribute or advertise the Web address until Monday morning, the launch was not active campaigning and therefore did not violate the election code.
Guilfoyle also stood by his decision to approve the launch, but said anyone who takes issue with it can file a complaint with the Election Committee on which Guilfoyle has no vote.
However, the code defines campaigning as “any political speech, meeting and/or appeal for vote or votes” regardless of whether that campaigning is active or passive.
A competing campaign is crying foul.
“Honestly, it’s a real easy rule to follow through on,” presidential candidate Conrad Miller said. “We’re not too happy about it.”
“It’s a pretty blatant violation,” he continued. “Why have rules if we’re not going to pay attention to them?”
Miller’s running mate Jake Donovan said he was not sure what conversation Guilfoyle had with the Reed/Panagakos campaign, but Miller said everyone on his campaign was under the impression that absolutely no campaigning could begin until Monday morning.
“We’re all good friends, so it was a little disappointing to see that,” Miller said about the alleged violation.
Daniel Gearhart said his campaign’s Web site also went live, with permission from Guilfoyle, for an about an hour earlier last week to get approval from the election committee, but said it was only accessible to the committee.
However, Gearhart said his campaign has no stance on the issue.
“I have no problem with it,” Gearhart said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Tim Hole, who is running alongside Gearhart, also said he has no personal issue with the Web site’s launch, but said the Reed/Panagakos campaign should “probably apologize.”
“They really shouldn’t have launched it early,” Hole said.
Reed and Panagakos defended their launch, saying it was necessary to accommodate construction needs, prepare the site for campaigning and allow for election committee approval.
Reed also stressed that Guilfoyle had approved the early launch as long as it was not actively promoted until after 8 a.m.
“I would say it’s not (a violation), personally,” Guilfoyle said. “It’s hard with Web sites.”
“If we can’t follow the rules we shouldn’t be making them,” Panagakos said. “The thing is we aren’t breaking the rules.”
Despite the allegations, Guilfoyle said no formal complaint has been filed with the Election Committee and Reed said he would be happy to formally discuss the Web site with anyone who is angry about it.
Assistant News Editor Jim Sojourner can be reached at email@example.com.