A complaint submitted Sunday night to the Board of Elections claims that Student Body Secretary Ian Lee has been campaigning for student body president, which is prohibited by the Student Code because of his position in the executive branch.
Under Title VI, Article IV, Section 408 of the Student Code, student body secretary and other high-ranking members of the executive branch are prohibited from participating in campaigns for student government positions.
But the ambiguity surrounding what constitutes a campaign before candidates are permitted to declare candidacy might doom the complaint.
It was filed by Rick Ingram, a junior who is widely rumored to be actively organizing his own campaign.
Ingram said in the complaint that over the past three weeks, Lee has sent e-mails declaring an intention to run for student body president, which he said constitutes campaigning.
“I have heard from many that he is spreading these rumors about running, and in order to do so, I feel as though he would have to resign his current post as (student body secretary),” Ingram wrote in the complaint.
But the complaint might be thrown out on the grounds that the Board of Elections cannot punish individuals who are not declared candidates.
“The extent to which the Board of Elections can do anything to actors who are not certified candidates is a complicated legal question,” said Andrew Phillips, chairman of the Board of Elections.
Phillips added that the board cannot punish members of student government who are not involved in elections.
“I can’t tell (Student Body President) Hogan Medlin what to order for lunch,” Phillips said.
He said if the board finds that Lee violated the Student Code, it might choose to fine Lee should he declare candidacy following the mandatory candidates’ meeting in January.
Section 404 of the same article forbids candidates from declaring candidacy before this meeting.
Lee said he expects the complaint to be thrown out because, at this point in the election process, there are no official campaigns.
“At this point, anything is just hypothetical until you sign on the line committing yourself,” he said.
Ingram dismissed Lee’s argument.
“That makes no sense because that would be saying the Board of Elections couldn’t govern anything right now,” he said.
Phillips said the board will meet Thursday or Friday to determine whether the board has jurisdiction over the issue.
It will meet to hear arguments from both parties in the first half of next week, he said.
The Student Code is notoriously unclear, even to members of student government. It forbids individuals from publicly or privately campaigning before declaring candidacy but permits campaigning on a “discreet and private basis.”
Lee would not comment on whether he is considering an election bid.
“I have not ruled out any options for next year,” he said.
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