The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 2nd

Gardner, Talley Deny Misconduct

After reading written statements from the two implicated students -- senior Liz Gardner and junior B.J. Talley -- the board went into deliberations to determine whether the two are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Both students worked on candidate Michael Songer's campaign, Talley as his campaign manager.

The board plans to release its decision before the end of the week.

The investigation was initiated by former Board of Elections Vice Chairman Fred Hill and board member Bryan Crumpler after a Feb. 15 disqualification hearing involving Songer and now-CAA President Reid Chaney in which the board determined that an e-mail submitted as evidence was likely forged.

According to Hill and Crumpler's findings, Gardner and Talley were in the CAA office during the early morning hours of Feb. 14 creating the e-mail.

But Gardner and Talley both contend that they were with friends during those hours and deny any involvement with the forgery.

"They can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I was involved in the forgery," Gardner told The Daily Tar Heel last week. "There is no conclusive evidence that links anybody."

Talley also argued in his written statement that he had no connection to the e-mail.

He wrote that the matter had been forwarded to Student Attorney General Brad Newcomb, who reviewed Hill and Crumpler's findings and declined to charge him with any offense.

"Thus, I have been absolved of involvement by the Student Attorney General's Office," Talley wrote.

But Hill said Newcomb's decision does not automatically exonerate Talley.

"Honor Court charges have been dropped, that's true," he said. "But I don't necessarily agree with his assessment that that vindicates him."

The e-mail in question linked Chaney's campaign to an e-mail sent by a former Carolina Fever President and UNC alumnus Davin McGinnis that characterized Songer as dishonest and deceptive.

Under elections laws, any slanderous actions by a campaign could be considered grounds for disqualification.

Songer attempted to have Chaney disqualified on the grounds that his campaign's actions did irreparable damage to his own campaign.

But the board opted to hold a re-election to settle the dispute.

Board of Elections Chairman Jeremy Tuchmayer told the DTH last week that the conclusion of this matter would have no bearing on Chaney or Songer, but would only answer lingering questions.

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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