The campaign team of Student Government Association presidential candidate Sarah Shield is facing a potential election violation after exposing opponent Madeline Martin for overspending on campaign materials.
A receipt sent to The Crimson White shows an order placed under Martin’s name on February 1 at an Office Depot in Northport. The receipt shows a purchase of 100 spiral-bound notebooks, which include a flyleaf labeled “Madeline Martin SGA President,” for $969.38.
The presidential campaign spending limit is $750, and exceeding the limit is a six-point violation.
This expense is not included in its financial disclosure forms on the SGA website, which is required of all candidates during their campaigns.
Martin reports $468.83 on his most recent financial disclosure forms for paint pens, mugs and buttons.
Undeclared expenses are a nine-point offense according to the elections handbook.
Failure to report expenses is considered a “major violation”. According to the elections manual, “an accumulation of 12 offense points or a conviction for a major violation is grounds for the election commission to consider disqualification.”
Martin threatened legal action against The Crimson White if the purchase went public.
“It had nothing to do with my campaign,” Martin said. “Any purchase at Office Depot, they are completely independent.”
Shield’s campaign team reported the purchase as a violation to the Elections Commission on February 27.
The Elections Committee informed Shield campaign manager Garrett Burnett on February 28 that members of Martin’s campaign team had reported a violation against Burnett for intentionally interfered in another candidate’s campaign and said he was making “false allegations”.
Martin’s campaign said the false allegations resulted from Burnett’s involvement in the Shield campaign.
“As you can see from the evidence I sent in the last email, Ms. Martin has created spiral bound books with all of her campaign information and other relevant details about herself,” wrote Burnett in a Feb. 28 email to the election committee. “These materials should have been reported, but they weren’t. The receipt clearly indicates that she went over budget when included with the things she chose not to disclose. This election should not be dominated by the candidate who spends the most money.
After a March 1 hearing, Burnett said the campaign was still waiting to be told about a possible sanction, but was told the Elections Commission was “finding the facts.”
Electoral Commission Chair Reese Caldwell said the Electoral Commission is aware of this information and is “still meeting to review the claim and all supporting documents filed”. Caldwell said the Elections Commission was unable to comment further on an outstanding issue.