Michael Jordan and Donald Garrett have been removed from the ballot for student body president and vice president after posting what the Election Dispute Commission ruled to be a campaign advertisement on Facebook before the start of the official campaign period.
The EDC made the decision after a hearing Thursday. Garrett and Jordan are filing an appeal that will be decided next week.
Senator Nick Guerin was the petitioner of the grievance against Garrett and Jordan. On March 14, Guerin noticed that Jordan and Garrett’s Facebook profile pictures had changed to the same image, according to his testimony.
Guerin presented the EDC with screenshots of the respondents’ Facebook profiles which showed a graphic depicting the letter M, a peach and the letter D. Both the petitioner and the respondents acknowledged it was referencing the EDC hearing to impeach Garrett on March 2. Garrett resigned from his position as senator in the opening remarks of that hearing.
Garrett alleges that Student Government violated the Freedom of Information Act when some members met without him to discuss a resolution to impeach him.
In January, Jordan unsuccessfully sued Matthew Short, chair of the Government & Academic Affairs Committee, after the G & A Committee denied his appointment to the senate through means of a secret ballot.
Guerin’s screenshots of the graphic used as the respondents’ profile pictures were taken before March 19, the official start of the campaign period. However, the issue at the hearing was whether the image was affiliated with the respondents’ campaign.
“A picture that highlights my running mate’s impeachment may do a lot of things, but it does not increase our likelihood of winning,” Jordan said at the EDC hearing. He argued the picture was an inside joke between him and Garrett.
In the election code campaigning is defined as anything that has the primary purpose of furthering a candidate’s chances of winning the election.
Another student, Paige Davis, changed her own profile picture to the graphic before they removed the image, according to both Guerin and Jordan.
Garrett arrived at the hearing in time to take questions from the commission. When asked why he and Jordan were tagged in the image, Garrett said, “I believe, personally, myself, [that] I have been mistreated and lynched by different branches [of the Student Government]. It’s a political statement about the fairness of Resolution 27.”
That resolution, which passed at a March 1 Student Senate meeting, called for the impeachment of Donald Garrett.
When Commissioner David Bier asked Garrett to clarify what he meant by “lynched,” Garrett said that he was not given a fair trial.
The vote by the EDC was five guilty, two not guilty and one abstention. Commissioners Emily Daniel and Thomas Lee voted not guilty.
As the moderator, Commissioner David Bier did not vote.
Three factors were cited in the majority decision: the fact that the letter M was tagged as Michael Jordan, Davis’ posting of the image and the fact that it was posted two weeks after the impeachment hearing.
“Based on timing,” the majority wrote, “a neutral observer would associate the picture with the pending campaign and not with Mr. Garrett’s attempted impeachment.”