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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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SGA Election Code violations to be determined by hearing


Student Government Association’s PowerHouse party will take the stand Wednesday night to determine whether it was a in violation of the SGA Election Code or not.

This comes after the Project Red party, lead by Shane Smith, filed a complaint against the PowerHouse party for its failure to disclose photos on its financial disclosure form.

According to the formal compliant, Chief Election Commissioner Jackson Crawford explained that any financial expenditures, including donations, need to be disclosed and used photography as an example.

“Earlier (Wednesday), Project Red submitted a complaint against PowerHouse with request for the violation to be considered a Class A Violation,” Crawford said. “The Attorney General has found the complaint to have merit but downgraded the violation to be a Class B Violation.”

Under the Election Code, a Class A Violation includes any violation of the Student Code of Conduct, local law, state law or federal laws. In addition, election fraud, falsified campaign documents or identity theft are misdemeanors under this class violation.

The result of this violation is disqualification of the candidate from the election and automatic referral to the Dean of Student’s Office.

A Class B Violation is subject to deliberately defacing, altering or destroying the campaign material of another candidate without the other candidate’s explicit written permission, obstruction of the Election Commission in the discharge of their official duties, exceeding spending limits or failing to appear before the Court of Appeals for hearing.

PowerHouse presidential candidate John Fields said the photos were taken while he and Cory Rodriguez, vice president of the Student Video Network,  shot a campaign video and were included in it — which was mentioned on the disclosure of expenditures.

“Neither PowerHouse, nor any of its members, violated any part of the election code,” Fields said. “This is a frivolous complaint that has absolutely no merit.”

Fields said he commissioned Rodriguez to produce a video for the election.

“After shooting video for an hour and a half inside, we moved outside to try and get additional shots and took some more video shots and (a) few pictures that could be useful for the video,” Fields said. “The entire day, as well as all of the work Cory did with us, was devoted to the making of the video, so when we disclosed that on the financial disclosure, it covered all of the work.”

The rest of the session was spent editing the video. The pictures in question were taken and used as part of the video process and were either used in the video or as a thumbnail when people see the video on Facebook.

Rodriguez declined to comment on the creation of this video.

Project Red’s complaint basis is derived from nine violations of the SGA Election Code. However, Attorney General Jessica Bonds only agreed with seven of the nine violations filed by Project Red.

A trial is expected to be heard Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. in the SGA Senate Chambers.

“The question is whether PowerHouse was specific enough in their financial disclosure with regards to photos and video that they used,” Crawford said.

Smith and the Project Red party hope the trial will seek justice in the matter.

“We want to let the judicial process play out and have the facts speak for themselves,” Smith said.

Fields and PowerHouse expect to appeal this ruling and to be found innocent of breaking any rules.

“We have made every effort to follow the rules of the election, and I am very disappointed in anybody who files frivolous complaints like this that distract from the very important issues that face UH,” Fields said. “It’s a disservice to the integrity of SGA and to our students.”

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