Student Government

Court disqualifies four candidates

Michael McHugh (right) listens to James Lee (left) testify that he helped the McHugh-Aijaz party commit election fraud in the run-off SGA elections in McHugh and Aijaz’s Court of Appeals hearing Monday.  |  Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

Michael McHugh (right) listens to James Lee (left) testify that he helped the McHugh-Aijaz party commit election fraud in the run-off SGA elections in McHugh and Aijaz’s Court of Appeals hearing Monday. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

The Student Government Association Justices struck down the Election Commission’s decision to disqualify four members of the McHugh-Aijaz party due to code violations, but determined three of them participated in election fraud.

President-elect Michael McHugh and Natural Sciences and Mathematics senators-elect Laxmi Ramana and Brandon Balwant have been disqualified for the fraud. Mohammad Aijaz, McHugh’s running mate, was also disqualified, although the court did not say Aijaz committed fraud.

“Unfortunately, due to the joint ticket, Mohammad Aijaz will also be disqualified,” said Chief Justice Taylor Kilroy in an email announcing the decision.

Chief Election Commissioner Arsalan Razakazi declined to comment on the decision until he could speak with his fellow election commissioners, and neither Michael nor Cameron McHugh could be reached before publication.

“I speak for the Court when I say that we delivered this judgement with heavy hearts,” Kilroy said.

“It is truly regrettable to discover that fellow students aspiring to represent the student body succumbed to these temptations.”


Appeals hearing

The party members fought the original disqualification in front of the SGA Court of Appeals Monday in a two back-to-back hearings that lasted from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The Commission’s arguments during the hearings were largely based upon two student affidavits and the testimony of James Lee, a member of the McHugh-Aijaz party, while the appellants maintained a denial of the charges and said the Commission broke several rules with its actions.

“We believe that these charges brought up against the defendants were both meritless, thoughtless and were in direct violation of the election code,” said Cameron, who represented his brother and the other appellants under the guidance of Houston Attorney and former Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones.

Cameron said the complaints of fraud were filed passed deadline, but the Commissioners said they were allowed time to investigate the allegations.

“In the election code,” said Assistant Election Commissioner Said Jalajal, “it states that because there was election fraud, we did not have to file a complaint because we as an election commission have jurisdiction to investigate and deliberate onto the actions.”

Lee said he had been given seven PeopleSoft numbers and told to use them to vote for McHugh and Aijaz in the run-off elections.

Michael denied this and said Lee was making the allegations due to bitterness over rejected romantic advances made on Michael.

Lee said this was not true.

The appellants tried twice to have Kilroy and Razakazi recused from the hearing, saying they are biased against Michael, but the motions were denied both times.

“We have, in the past, heard allegations (against) Chief Justice Kilroy about blatant bias against members of the McHugh-Aijaz party, particularly Michael McHugh,” Cameron said.

The motion against Razakazi was denied by Kilroy, who said that he could not be recused, as he was one of the appellees.

“You cannot recuse a party… so I’m going to deny that right off,” Kilroy said.

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  • The two trials lasted until 12:59 p.m. Tuesday, because I recall Chief Justice Kilroy mentioning we were one minute "early" before 1 a.m. Otherwise, great article. Thank you for your great coverage. 😀

  • Details of what you are reporting are confusing. Please write the article clearly with understanding as goal. One sentence paragraphs are not helpful without transitions are not communicating information efficiently or effectively. Please improve quality of writing.

  • can we have more info of this case? i didn not know anything about that but now i am worried we have sunk so low. the article is really hard to read. had to read each paragraph about 3 times to understand it

  • This is a confusing article, but as far as the judgement, there was no concrete evidence disclosed to the public, so there was no basis to prove election fraud.

    This is a bad call.

    • Wait for the opinions of the Justices.
      That should disclose the evidence used to make their decision

  • The article may have gone back and forth a bit, but I understood it clearly. I’m sure more details are to come as we all have questions still.

  • The article is quite confusing because there’s not enough info to understand what’s going on.
    Is there any way you can give us more info or some links to read more about it?

  • So, having been in SGA in the senate and exec, and knowing McHugh personally, it’s just sad to me that because he is different he is being victimized like this. I don’t see anywhere in these articles that show sufficient evidence that he committed any voter fraud. He’s right – with all that happened last year, he would be especially stupid to have done something like this again, knowing that the election was being so closely watched. He fights for things that matter, and things that often go ignored. You don’t have to agree with him or things he stands for, but he represents students well and that should be respected. I very much do feel that the commission as well as the justices have a personal dislike for McHugh’s personality/style of leadership and therefore are making these rash judgements without sufficient evidence. No organization is perfect, and especially with a student court there is bound to be errors made – but even as lawyer “practice,” they should know better.

  • I am concerned that we may be starting the new administration without a sitting President/ Vice President. Except for last year, I have served as a Senator on the SGA since 2007. Never have, during my tenure, we seen such a serious issue arise. I am sorry for all parties involved. I have known Micheal, Lee, and Taylor and other members of the legislation and judicial branch for a number of years. I am disappointed it has reached this pinnacle.

  • Michael is innocent. As well as the whole party. Micheal spent hours campaigning while Cedric was no where near as involved in the campaign trail.

  • Freedman, that’s just not true. I worked hard with Cedric and the rest of REDvolution and can say that our campaign strategy was not only smart but also full of integrity. We targeted specific area’s of the university and spoke to groups as a whole. Cedric and Turner worked incredibly hard this campaign season and to say other wise isn’t fair to them.

  • “Michael denied this and said Lee was making the allegations due to bitterness over rejected romantic advances made on Michael.”

    I just cant seem to follow the story, can someone please tell me what kind of name is James Lee, it sounds like a boy’s name but the article states that Lee did all of this because he was rebuffed by Michael?

  • Derar, why do you think Cedric won't be a good president? What experiences have you had with him? I have worked with him for a year now, and you should know that Cedric will only make this school better. If you care that your friend lost….well Stop being butt hurt…Life isn't fair sometimes.

    • My own experiences tells me he is a carbon copy of Harding, and because of that I highly doubt that Cedric will make this school better. Cedric is good if you want to keep things the same, but terrible if you want to see actual change.He even said how little power the president have and have not shown the necessarily aggression to get things done.

      Also, the evidence shown by the court is not sufficient enough to disqualify Michael because there is significant reasonable doubt that Michael had nothing to do with this. I also doubt it was the senators because of the lack of evidence. There is nothing wrong with hating injustice

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