President-elect Cortez Whatley and Vice President-elect Rachel Brill were found to not have violated active campaigning statutes in two of yesterday’s three election violation hearings. They were also found not in violation of bribery statutes, the first of the three affidavits the Student Government Association Election Commission reviewed yesterday.
The second affidavit the commission reviewed was in regard to violating active campaigning statutes.
According to the affidavit, the circumstances of the violation were that campaign materials were distributed in residence halls between the hours of 9 p.m. and 11 a.m., which violates election statute 604.2 A and D. SGA Sen. Jacob Kahn, who filed the affidavit, contacted Jeff Novak, the associate director of UCF Housing, asking if distribution of the materials had been approved for Knights Circle housing complex to which Novak said they had not, according to the affidavit.
“I think it’s evident in the non-appearance by the filer that this, in my opinion, is probably a frivolous claim,” Whatley said during opening statements.
Kahn, who is also the chair of the Operations Review Committee, said he was not able to attend the hearing because he had class.
Whatley said he did not tell his campaign captains to distribute flyers in the complex and thinks that campaign supporters who live in Knights Circle decided to distribute the materials.
In response to a question from the commission, Whatley said he did not personally distribute materials in Knights Circle and did not approve for anyone else to do so. He also said he was positive that Brill, who was not present at the hearing, did not personally distribute materials or approve anyone else to do so.
During deliberations, Supervisor of Elections Hannah Fraher said she did not think it had been proven that Whatley himself had violated statutes or that he had authorized his campaigners to distribute materials in Knights Circle.
The commission voted 0-6-1 that Whatley and Brill had not violated the statute.
The third affidavit the commission reviewed, also filed by Kahn, was also in regard to violating active campaigning statutes as well as third party campaigning and support statutes, specifically 604.2 D and 604.10 A.
According to 604.2 D, “Candidates that wish to distribute or display material on or in a building must first have secured the written permission of said building’s manager and shall submit such permission to the Election Commission prior to the distribution or display of said material.”
According to the affidavit, Kahn and at least one other person witnessed four individuals, some wearing campaign-related clothing, in Knights Circle distributing campaign materials. When the individuals saw Kahn and the other person(s), they headed back to their vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Again, Kahn contacted Novak who said he did not approve for the distribution of campaign materials in Knights Circle, according to the affidavit.
According to 604.10 A, “The candidate/ticket is not responsible for unauthorized verbal, written or physical campaigning by third parties.”
According to the affidavit, one of the individuals Kahn witnessed distributing materials was wearing a shirt with the title “Captain” on it. In the affidavit, Kahn explained that this denotes a difference between the other campaigners, some of whom wore shirts with the title “Supporter” on it.
Kahn, who served as a captain for Anthony King and Eric Katz’ campaign, said he filed the affidavit that cited 604.10 A because, if Whatley and Brill’s campaign functioned anything like King and Katz,’ they would have directly authorized their captains on how to campaign.
During the hearing, Fraher asked Whatley to review photographic evidence included with the affidavit and asked if he could identify himself, Brill or any of his supporters in the pictures.
Whatley said he did not recognize anyone in the photos.
With a vote count of 0-7-1, the commission again voted that Whatley and Brill had not violated statutes.
“I do have full faith in our election commission,” Kahn said. “Although it didn’t go in my favor, I still respect their decision.”
Kahn said campaigners should keep in mind there are people out there paying attention to their actions and making sure campaigns are properly run.
“The way our election statutes are now are not in good shape, and [statutes] allow for things like this to happen,” Kahn said.
Kahn said he and other senators are looking into making changes to statutes so candidates will be more responsible for their third party campaigners. However, he said he understands the difficulty in monitoring the actions of all of those involved.
He also said he and other senators are also looking into changing statutes to include UCF-affiliated housing in the section that addresses active campaigning.