Unofficial winner for SG president disqualified, election still not over

Lulu Ramadan

Pedro Amirato. Photo by Ryan Murphy
Pedro Amirato. Photo by Ryan Murphy

Pedro Amirato was the unofficial president elect for 24 hours — then he got disqualified.

Amirato, a presidential candidate in the spring Student Government elections, and his vice presidential candidate Patrick Callahan, were both disqualified based on inconsistencies in their campaign paperwork. The Student Court hearing took place on March 20 and lasted four hours before the Court disqualified them.

Ella Tepper, presidential candidate, and her VP Jaclyn Broudy have second most votes in this election with only an eight vote difference in the results. Tepper and Broudy were initially announced as the unofficial winners of the election on Feb. 21. Three weeks later, they were told that the votes, calculated by a third party company, Vote Net Solutions, were misinterpreted and that Amirato and Callahan had the most votes.

Broudy was the first to bring up the inconsistencies in Amirato and Callahan’s paperwork, pointing out they did not list out the details in their campaign expenses.

One of those details that got Amirato and Callahan disqualified includes listing an invoice for buttons that the pair purchased to campaign from Creative Brand Co. Broudy challenged this when she researched and found out that the address of the company was actually a barber shop in Miami.

“I just found it really fishy,” Broudy said, after she Google searched for the company and couldn’t find a website. She questioned whether the invoice is legitimate or not.

“That is a huge allegation,” Amirato said. “That I falsified an invoice.”

According to Amirato, the owner of the Chop Shop Barbershop, whose address is listed on the invoice, is also the owner of Creative Brand Co.

When the UP contacted the barbershop, an employee provided us with the number of the owner, Amir Youssef.

The number was not the correct number for Youssef. The employee could not confirm that Youssef owned another company formerly known as Creative Brand Co., now called HW8 Creative.

When the UP tried calling HW8 Creative using the number on their Facebook page, the number led to Chop Shop Tattoos, a business based in Miami.

The UP left a message with Youssef at the Chop Shop Barbershop and has not heard back as of press time.

“A few facts didn’t add up,” Amirato said. “It’s annoying, because why should it be my fault if a business screws up on their invoice?”

Broudy believes that, because the election results were so close, if any campaign expenses were not accounted for and could have put the candidates over their $1,750 limit, the number of votes could have been compromised.

“If you have double the material and your name and your visibility is so much greater, that’s double the people seeing you,” Broudy said. “It does make a difference in the votes.”

Broudy also challenged Amirato and Callahan about lack of details in their campaign expense forms.

According to the SG Statutes that dictate the election, the campaign expense forms must include itemized lists of all expenses used in the campaign, including proof of purchase. These Statutes also state the candidates cannot exceed a $1,750 limit in campaign expenses.

According to the campaign expense forms filed, Amirato listed the total amounts spent on expenses for the campaign rather than a detailed list.

“I made errors, I should’ve done this better,” Amirato said. “My biggest mistake was not sending in an itemized list.”

When all of this information was originally brought to the Elections Board — the three-member board that oversees elections — Amirato then provided the Elections Board with receipts and details to explain the expenses. They decided to reprimand Amirato and Callahan rather than disqualify them.

“The expenses were accounted for, just incorrectly, therefore this issue had no serious impact on the results of the election,” Elections Board Chair Michael Brown wrote in an email to the UP.

The reprimand was brought to Student Court for an appeal when the court decided to overturn the Elections Board’s decision and disqualify Amirato and Callahan.

“As the Spokesperson of the Elections Board, I can tell you that the Elections Board stands by the decision they made 100 percent,” Brown wrote.

“It hurts that I would get disqualified over something like this,” Amirato said.

According to Amirato, his disqualification was based on a contestation that was not heard within the contestation period.

Broudy filed the Challenge, but it wasn’t addressed in the Elections Board’s initial hearing. The issue was not brought up again until after it was announced that Amirato and Callahan had collected the most votes and new results were released on March 11.

“To be honest, I hadn’t even realized we missed it,” Broudy said. “There were, like, twelve contestations. I completely didn’t even realize that the one that I wrote wasn’t heard.”

SG Assistant Director Ryan Frierson confirmed that the contestation was received and time stamped by him within the contestation period. He then gave the contestation to the Elections Board.

According to Brown, he was exhausted the day the contestations were supposed to be heard and the board missed Broudy’s contestation.

“Because we had so many contestations, the Amirato/Callahan Contestation was indeed left off of the agenda of contestations we heard that day,” Brown wrote in an email to the UP. “That was a situation where no one noticed it had been inadvertently left off, not the Elections Board, not the court, not the Advisers, and not the party that submitted the contestation.”

Broudy pointed out the missing contestation after the new results were released and it was heard by the Elections Board on March 12.

“Isn’t it strange that the contestation that got me disqualified was originally lost in the tracks?” Amirato said. “Maybe in this case it is an honest mistake, but when there’s this much going on, what else would anyone think?”

Amirato filed an appeal against the decision to disqualify him with Dr. Charles Brown, senior vice president for Student Affairs.

According to the SG Elections Statutes, the decision of the Student Court is final. If it’s proven that the Student Court failed to provide due process, Brown can overturn the decision of the Student Court.

“I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re ready to have this over,” Broudy said. “Whichever way it goes, just put the official results up.”

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[title type=”h4″]A road to presidency[/title]

The spring elections have dragged on since mid-January, but they’re not quite over yet.

Jan. 18 – Candidates declared candidacy for spring election.

Feb. 20 – Students voted for their choice of candidate in the spring elections either online or at voting stations on campus.

Feb. 22 – The unofficial results went up. Ella Tepper was named the unofficial president-elect and Jaclyn Broudy, her VP.

Feb. 26 – The Elections Board heard challenges to the election results. Pedro Amirato and Patrick Callahan were reprimanded for not having their campaign sponsors approved.

Feb. 28 – Amirato and Callahan filed a challenge with student court questioning the accuracy of the unofficial results after pointing out inconsistencies with the number of votes.

March 11 – Candidates were called to a meeting with Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena and told that the results of the election were misinterpreted and new, unofficial results were released. Amirato was named unofficial president-elect and Callahan his VP.

March 12 – Elections Board reprimanded Amirato and Callahan a second time, this time for inconsistencies in their campaign expense forms.

March 20 – Student Court overturned the decision of the Elections Board. Amirato and Callahan were disqualified.

March 21 – Amirato filed an appeal with Vice President of Student Affairs Charles Brown. Brown decides whether to uphold the Student Court’s decision and, ultimately, whether Amirato will assume the position of president.

A decision on who the new SG president is has not been reached as of press time.