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Voice, Reform tickets file complaints over IUSA election



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Junior Kevin Mohsenzadeh speaks during the IU Student Association debate Wednesday night in Hodge Hall. Mohsenzadeh is running on the Unite IU ticket for IUSA, and his campaign stands to support for diversity on campus. Jiatong Zou Buy Photos

Although Voice IUSA has been declared the unofficial winner of this year's IU Student Association elections, since Friday night two tickets have filed a total of 14 complaints related to inadequate financial documentation, misrepresentation and improper use of Starbucks iced coffee.

Reform IUSA filed 12 separate complaints, while Voice filed two. 

The Election Commission is scheduled to meet to discuss these issues Monday night, according to IUSA commissioner Jeff Bae.

Voice presidential candidate Alex Wisniewski said although his campaign filed complaints, he thinks this process should actually be done by the Election Commission instead of the candidates themselves, who may have less partial motives.

"We don't necessarily think that's fair," Wisniewski said.

Both of Voice's complaints were filed against Reform, alleging Reform violated rules during its tabling session March 27 at the McNutt Quad convenience store.

One of the complaints said Voice believes Reform should not have been at McNutt during the election days. Referring to an email sent out by Election Commission chair Savannah Wormley, Voice claims RPS locations were not on the list of nine approved locations where tickets were allowed to campaign on election days. The Indiana Daily Student has been unable to independently verify the contents of this email.

Additionally, Voice claims the cups of Starbucks iced coffee that Reform handed out were worth more than $1, which was the limit placed on campaign goods that could be handed out to voters.

According to the complaint, Reform “purchased 72 cups from Kroger for $7.38 which equates to ~$0.10 per cup. They also purchased 48 oz. containers of Starbucks ice coffee for $5.79 from Kroger. Target’s website (Exhibit B) shows there are 6 servings per container so 8 oz per serving. Thus one 8 oz cup of starbucks ice coffee costs $0.97. There were 150 labels purchased from Target for $3.48. A single label put on a cup cost $0.02. Therefore, the cumulative cost of 1 cup of coffee Reform handed out while tabling was $1.09” (sic). 

In a statement to the IDS, Reform’s communications director Spencer Bowman said Reform has filed briefs in response to the complaints. He declined to discuss specifics until complaints are heard by the IUSA Supreme Court.

“We hope this will be an expedient and just process which encourages transparency and accountability of all parties,” Bowman said in his statement.

Out of Reform’s 12 complaints, nine were filed against Voice. Many allege discrepancies between reported funds and expenses. 

Wisniewski said Reform makes valid points in some of their complaints, and Voice has owned up to its mistakes in response briefs when necessary. He believes other claims are far-fetched.

Voice’s intermediate financial report claims the campaign had brought in $600 in contributions by March 12, but their spending exceeded this number. 

Under the donations, they listed expenses totaling $864.42, including a $550 T-shirt purchase.  According to Reform’s complaint, this violates part of the IUSA Procedural Election Code prohibiting spending from exceeding donations at any point during the campaign.

Wisniewski said the campaign had not overspent at the time of their intermediate financial statements. The $550 purchase had been invoiced, but the campaign was still within a 30-day window in which they could make the final payment and had not yet done so. Wisniewski said he thought including the invoice was more transparent.

Voice’s final financial statement shows a total of $1,110 in donations and $1,063.64 in spending. The funds cover the purchase by the end of the campaign.

Also in Voice’s intermediate financial report, Wisniewski was credited with contributing $300 in a Feb. 20 campaign donation. However, the final financial report says the Feb. 20 donation was $350. Reform claims this is a reckless and misleading act. 

Wisniewski said he disagrees with Reform's assessment of recklessness. He donated an additional $50 to the Voice campaign between the intermediate and final statements, but he didn't include it as another line item for easy reading.

"I definitely regret my intent to clarify what I was doing, but by no means do we think that was reckless," Wisniewski said.

Additionally, Reform claims Wix website receipts submitted by Voice do not match up with the expenses listed on the final financial document. Wisniewski attributes this to a clerical error and said all provided receipts line up with what was paid.

In another complaint, Reform said a student was misrepresented by the Voice campaign, which Voice has denied. 

Reform also filed complaints alleging incomplete financial documentation from both the Voice and Unite IU campaign. 

Two of the complaints outline how Unite and Voice’s intermediate statements were not submitted on time. Another one also raised concerns about Unite’s failure to provide a final financial statement by the March 30 cutoff date. 

According to online documents, Unite had still not submitted a final report as of Sunday afternoon. 

“We do not have a comment because we are not seeking to challenge the results of the election,” Unite presidential candidate Kevin Mohsenzadeh said in a text.

Wisniewski said his intermediate financial statement was submitted outside the date range because Voice needed to turn in the statement early to accommodate for spring break travel.

Reform also pointed out that Unite and Voice both lack signatures on their intermediate financial documents meant to verify their accuracy. Voice’s final financial statement also lacks these signatures.

For Voice's documents, Wisniewski said the final one includes his signature, and the intermediate one includes a statement showing his treasurer candidate prepared the document, which he believed was enough. They do not include signatures from a congressional representative because of confusion over a recent vote, which Wisniewski said acknowledged was a mistake. 

Another complaint against Voice said the final financial statement lacked seven out of 12 contributors’ emails, although this is a required piece of donor information.

This information was not available on the donor information provided by GoFundMe, Wisniewski said. 

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