Independent candidates Isabella Southwick and William Wilk will continue running in the 2020 election, the Student Senate Elections Commission decided, despite their failure to list a $34 purchase of a domain for their campaign website on a financial report.
The commission heard a complaint filed against Southwick and Wilk, who are running for student body president and student body vice president respectively, Wednesday night via Zoom. The complaint was filed by EC Chair Wyatt Risovi-Hendrickson.
In the hearing, Risovi-Hendrickson said allowing candidates to hold off on disclosing financial information to the commission until after they make a purchase could give leeway to future candidates and present a transparency issue.
Southwick and Wilk said they did not put the purchase on their first financial report because they were having technical difficulties and wanted to see whether or not they would use the website or not before disclosing it to the commission.
In its official decision released after the hearing, the commission said although Southwick and Wilk submitted an incomplete report, they did not do it in a fraudulent manner and there was no malicious intent behind the action.
“It really boils down to this idea that it was not fraudulent under state holding common law definitions of what fraud is,” elections commissioner Harrison Baker said. “Fraud is not defined in the Student Senate Rules and Regulations and people have made mistakes in the past that we have allowed to be rectified with financial reports.”
Though the commission understood the concern of transparency, they said in the decision, “We find it difficult to suggest that forgetting to place a sum of approximately $34 on a single financial report is harmful to the election. This thought is clearly echoed through legislative intent.”
Southwick and Wilk admitted it was a mistake in the hearing as well as afterwards, and said they are using it as a learning moment moving forward.
“We really value the value of the elections commission and we really are apologetic for our mistake,” Southwick said. “We do not want to at all come between transparency and financial honesty for voters. We understand the importance of the mistake we made and we are apologetic and we appreciate the commission for helping us through this and making a very thorough statement explaining their decision.”
Southwick and Wilk will face no consequences from the elections commission and will continue campaigning for the 2020 election.