SGA presidential candidates’ campaigns under review

An official winner for Student Government Association president is pending review by the SGA Judicial Board, which will determine whether either candidate broke campaign rules, according to the Elections and Regulations Committee.Junior history major Thomas Pressly defeated junior marketing and e-business major Nate Arnold by 94 votes in Thursday’s presidential run off, but an official winner will not be announced until after the Judicial Board’s ruling.

“It was a great race,” Pressly said before going out to celebrate. “It was even more exciting to have over 2,000 people vote. I think that means TCU students want to make sure their voice is heard.”

Arnold agreed.

“I’m bummed I didn’t win, but ecstatic that many people cared enough to vote,” Arnold said.

The Elections and Regulations Committee met Thursday to discuss possible campaign violations committed by Arnold and Pressly, and agreed on five different cases to be heard for judicial review.

The committee’s decision to hear the cases does not implicate guilt, just that enough evidence was found for review, said Merillat Pittman, the Elections and Regulations Committee chairwoman.

Two cases concerning Pressly’s campaign and three for Arnold’s will be heard by the Judicial Board.

Violations have 120 days to be viewed and decided on, but Pittman said the review will likely take place after Thanksgiving.

Arnold said he doesn’t think the cases are prominent enough to make a difference in the outcome of the election.

“I can’t imagine them overturning the campaign results,” Arnold said. “I don’t feel like the charges against me, at this point, are substantial.”

SGA activities adviser Kim Appel said the Judicial Board has a range of punishments that can be applied if guilt is found, varying from a warning to disqualification or removal from office.

The Judicial Board will most likely not hand down the punishments of disqualification or removal, but it is a possibility, Pittman said.

“In the student body code, it says that if there are campaign violations, they are going to be considered Class B violations, which are up to a $250 fine,” Pittman said.

The alleged violations in Pressly’s campaign concerned placement of campaign flyers in the GrandMarc and campaign stickers placed on food and drinks in Frog Bytes.

“Thomas Pressly for President” flyers were taped to the doors of apartments in the GrandMarc, Pittman said. According to the SGA student body code, no more than five signs can be affixed in any one on-campus building.

Pressly said he had no idea he was in violation of the student body code.

“My interpretation was different than Elections and Regulations Committee, but that is why they’re there, to make sure these things don’t happen in the future,” Pressly said.

Pressly received permission to place the flyers from the GrandMarc, but the total number still violated code.

Pressly’s placement of stickers on food items in Frog Bytes may also violate code, which limits the placement of campaign material within 50 feet of a group of three or more computers, which Frog Bytes exceeds, the committee voted.

The committee was unanimous in its vote for review.

Arnold will face review for campaigning too close to computers and defamation of character, Pittman said.

A Facebook message was sent out by Arnold to members of his support group in which he wrote Pressly was “tacky”, “shady” and had broken rules.

The committee found there was enough evidence for defamation of character, which is prohibited by the student body code and was voted unanimously for review.

Arnold said he is not so much worried about the allegations against him, but rather how that will change his image in students’ eyes.

“I’m not a mean guy, I promise,” Arnold said. “Honestly, I had no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings, and I don’t want people to think I’m mean-spirited.”

Pittman said Arnold also had flyers in Deco Deli and Sub Connection with Sudoku puzzles that were close to groups of computers and in possible violation.

The committee voted unanimously for judicial review for these flyers.

The final possible violation by Arnold, concerned a bear costume his party supporters wore in Frog Bytes and the Mary Couts Burnett Library. The bear had signs supporting Nate Arnold attached to it and came too close to computers.

The committee voted that although wearing signs, stickers or pins is fine, the fact that the bear was a part of the Arnold campaign and specifically going out to win votes, made it a case for judicial review.

Pittman said allegations of campaign violations are common each year, but this year’s election had more than usual.

“It might be attributed to the fact that we have a run off, so there are more days for candidates to be found in violation,” Pittman said. “Candidates have gotten really creative this year and because of their creativity, it’s getting them in trouble in ways that none of them expected or ever intended to.”

Pressly said he was secure in his future as president and he looks forward to continuing his efforts for off-campus dining and 24-hour library access.