The Student Government Election Board delivered a $1000 fine and a two-day suspension to the the campaign of Connor Clegg and Colton Duncan, president and vice presidential candidates, for the use of the word “endorsement” in an Instagram comment nearly a year prior.
Opposing presidential candidate Russell Boyd and vice presidential candidate Emari Shelvin had filed a complaint against the Clegg-Duncan Alliance for three counts of early campaigning. Two of the counts were dismissed while the third count drew the suspension and fine meaning Clegg and Duncan’s campaign spending was restricted by $1000 out of the $4000 they could have spent.
Boyd and Shelvin complained that two posts on the Clegg-Duncan Facebook page had time stamps that were dated before the campaign season, which began Jan. 24, and could be viewed as early campaigning.
The respondents argued that although the time stamps were created before the official campaigning period, the posts were inactive at the time and were not seen by anyone.
Sarah Swanbeck, who had assisted in setting up the Clegg-Duncan Facebook campaign, testified that creating the page early was preparation for launching the campaign when the period began and did not interfere with soliciting votes because no one could see the posts at that time.
“Those time stamps are correct,” Clegg, who represented himself, said. “However, that page was not for public consumption as per the election code. That page was unpublished (and) the pictures were seen by no one, so they did not have the impact of soliciting votes.”
Brent Bauer, who represented Boyd and Shelvin, argued that regardless of whether the posts were seen before the campaign period or not, the time stamps were misleading.
After Swanbeck’s testimony, the election board reviewed Facebook analytics as evidence and decided there were no rule violations on the first two counts. The third count of early campaigning filed by the complainants referenced an Instagram post made by Clegg approximately 43 weeks prior to the trial.
According to screenshots provided to the board, the post featured a comment by an Instagram user who stated “connor clegg as prez.” Clegg responded to the comment with “Thanks for your endorsement.” However, the election board ruled against Clegg on this count.