Amid an election season filled with allegations of campaign violations, the University of Alabama Elections Board has denied The Crimson White an open records request to obtain information regarding election rules violations by candidates for Student Government Association offices.
The denial comes even though candidates for SGA office are required to sign a statement allowing the Office of Judicial Affairs, the Elections Board, the Elections Review Board and UA to disclose records related to their SGA candidacy.
“Allegations against a candidate that were heard by the Elections Board have been referred to Judicial Affairs, which continues to investigate the allegations,” said UA spokeswoman Deborah Lane. “Those allegations involve student(s) who have not consented to the release of the information you have requested. If information that is not protected becomes available, it will be provided to you in a timely manner.”
Mark Nelson, UA vice president for Student Affairs, said the Elections Board serves to deter candidates from violating elections rules, while also educating candidates and enforcing those guidelines.
Ferguson Center assistant director Kelli Knox-Hall, who serves on the Elections Board, said any student is free to file a complaint with the Elections Board, but that board meetings are not subject to open meetings laws.
“Federal privacy laws protect students who have not signed campaign releases but who may be involved, directly or indirectly, in allegations or complaints presented to the Election Board,” Knox-Hall said.
Presidential candidates Matt Calderone and David Wilson filed formal complaints with the Elections Board, although Wilson later requested all allegations be removed.
“It’s not healthy,” Wilson said of the allegations being filed.
Calderone’s campaign filed allegations against Wilson and later provided screenshots of the registration for five domain names that had been purchased by a third party on Feb. 6: CalderoneforUA.com, MattCalderone.com, MattForUA.com, MattForAlabama.com and CalderoneForAlabama.com.
The domain names were registered to Ian Sams, a UA graduate, who did not return calls from members The Crimson White.
“I don’t know who purchased the domain names, but I’ve been told by people on my staff that they didn’t purchase any of them,” Wilson said.
Ryan Flamerich, a member of Wilson’s campaign team and current SGA Speaker of the Senate, said in a Feb. 22 interview that he did not know who had purchased the domain names.
A warranty deed found by The Crimson White showed that the address on the domain registrations belonged to Juan and Nancy Flamerich, Ryan’s relatives, in 2004.
Ryan Flamerich did not return calls placed by The Crimson White after the warranty deed was discovered.
The purchasing of domain names is not specifically banned by the SGA Elections Manual, but Article III of the document states that “a candidate or volunteer may under no circumstances intentionally interfere with the campaign of another candidate in any way, including but not limited to the destruction of campaign materials.”
Sunday, Wilson said the Elections Board has cleared him, to his knowledge.
Presidential candidate Shea Stripling did not file or receive any allegations against her campaign throughout the campaigning period.