Apr 052010
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

The student government Supreme Court will decide today the legitimacy of the Elections Committee’s decision to boot David Ambrose and April Ragland from the presidential election for exceeding their spending limit.

Its decision will determine whether or not to send the case back to the committee for a second review or overturn Ambrose and Ragland’s expulsion, allowing them back in the race.

The Ambrose/Ragland ticket was charged an exorbitant amount of money for postage for postcards that displayed their campaign slogan, which they delivered to the residence halls.

The court will consider cases voiced during Monday night’s hearing by committee officials and Paul Wade, who has defended Ambrose and Ragland throughout the complaint and appeals process.

Kevin Robinson, the elections manager, said if the Supreme Court overturns the committee’s decision to set the fair market value of postage at $1,260 there are two possible outcomes:

The committee could be asked to re-evaluate the case and rule on the fair market value, or the court could overturn its decision and allow Ambrose and Ragland to re-enter the running.

“The rulebook doesn’t say the Supreme Court has the ability to overturn Elections Committee, but it’s very possible they could,” Robinson said, adding that the voting process would have to start over.

Ambrose and Ragland were ordered to add $1,260 –– or 28 cents per handbill –– to their donation and expenditure report during a committee meeting Friday. By doing so, the team exceeded the sanctioned $2,000 spending limit by nearly $1,000.

Ambrose and Ragland are the first candidates ever to be taken off the ballot for overspending.

“We didn’t actually pay postage. We’re dealing with a hypothetical situation,” Wade said during the hearing.

The duo was fined $50 last week for overstepping residence hall policy and directly violating a section of the elections code that binds them to following university policy.

Any party mailing to residence halls must obtain a permit from Residence Life or the items will be returned to the sender, but Ambrose and Ragland said when they delivered their handouts nobody asked to see a permit.

Registered student organizations have access to free mailing on campus, but because Ambrose and Ragland’s campaign doesn’t fall into that category they should be expected to pay fair market value for postage, said Emily Malin committee clerk.

Ambrose obtained the list from his fraternity, which is officially endorsing the ticket, and delivered the handbills in person, bypassing the postal service or campus mailing, Wade said.

The team, he said, could take advantage of the non-profit pricing of less than 7 cents –– or $315 for 4,500 –– through Ambrose’s fraternity and could utilize bulk mailing rates as low as 20 cents.

But Malin, who also conducted the research to determine the fair market value for mailing the handbills, said she researched all options for the campaign, including mailing as a non-profit and bulk rates.

No other campaigns, she said, could access the discounted pricing so the Ambrose and Ragland campaign would have to apply for a non-profit license or pay a hefty set-up fee to access bulk mailing capabilities.

The court also heard an appeal regarding another fine assessed against Ambrose and Ragland for libel, which will also be ruled on today.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:31 pm

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