Whittington, Simms fined $180 for campaign violations due to unapproved endorsements

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Benjamin Whittington, candidate for student body president, answers a question at the debate Feb. 26, 2018.

Alex Connor

The Student Government Election Commission held two violation hearings Monday night, one for each executive slate.

Benjamin Whittington and Jocelyn Simms were fined $180 due to failure to submit endorsements to the Election Commission in advance of their announcement.

According to the Election Code, “All endorsements shall be filed with the Election Commission before claiming the endorsement.”

The Whittington-Simms campaign was endorsed preemptively online by College Republicans as well as current Student Government Sen. Jacob Schrader.

Because of this, the candidates were penalized for “hosting or distributing unapproved campaign material.”

Whittington and Simms were absent from the violation hearing. 

Regarding the Neely-Bibiloni violation hearing, the Election Commission questioned whether or not a yard sign by the campaign violated university policy because it was placed under the bridge near the Memorial Union parking ramp.

The sign, as decided by the Election Commission, may have violated the university policy stating: “Signs, banners and other display materials are not to be affixed to sidewalks, trees, fences, shrubs, light poles or other fixtures of the landscape.”

Originally, the Election Commission voted in favor of assessing a $60 fine to Neely and Bibiloni but after further review of the specific language of the policy decided against that initial choice.

Neely, Bibiloni and their campaign manager Yash Lekhwani were present for the hearing.

“After looking more into the definitions of such things and just the ambiguous nature of some of the words,” Jacob Zirkelbach, election commissioner, said. “We decided to not assess a fine and determine you are not at fault for anything.”

Last Monday, the Election Commission fined the Whittington-Simms campaign $140 for missing a statement of funding for their posters and the Neely-Bibiloni campaign $60 for not attaching a disclaimer to an email disclosing that it was not a “random email.”

In total, the Whittington-Simms campaign have been fined $320 and the Neely-Bibiloni have been fined $60.