Committee cancels fines on ASI candidates, discusses new media policy

Zach Maher/Mustang News

ASI associate executive director Dwayne Brummett informed the Recruitment and Development Committee on Thursday morning that legal counsel advised changes be made to the student government election code, despite the counsel’s opinion that its rules are legal.

Benjy Egel

The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Recruitment and Development Committee unanimously voted to waive fines for active campaigning violations by presidential candidates Joi Sullivan and Connor Paquin on Thursday morning, per the recommendation of legal counsel.

Sullivan and Paquin were each fined $100 for them or their campaign staff being quoted in a Mustang News article prior to the 10-day active campaigning period set to begin April 13. But as ASI Associate Executive Director Dwayne Brummett said, the presidential election code is focused on advertising restrictions and says nothing about media.

“The election code does not specifically address the issue of media contact outside of the 10-day period. Thus, it may be open to different interpretations,” Brummett said. “For this reason, legal counsel recommends that ASI waive previously imposed sanctions for perceived violations of the active campaigning rules.”

Legal counsel advised the Recruitment and Development Committee to look at changing the code to clarify media’s role in the campaign process, Brummett said.

The counsel’s opinion, which is expected to be officially distributed in a press release Thursday afternoon, ruled other active campaigning restrictions, such as prohibiting written advertisements before the ten-day window, were constitutional.

One possible change could be a “media day” outside the active campaigning window. Candidates would be free to speak to media during these press conferences, and would otherwise remain silent.

Recruitment and Development Committee Chair Cale Reid said he was in favor of designated media days, but would need to revise the election code in order to make it a possibility.

“Right now with the active campaigning policy, something like that wouldn’t be possible,” he said. “But I think that is a good step moving forward.”

Sullivan attended the meeting, but said afterward she was not sure if she could speak to the media. She declined to comment on the committee’s decision.