SGA presidential candidates respond to Hunter's campaign scandal

SGA+presidential+candidates+respond+to+Hunter%26%23039%3Bs+campaign+scandal

Bennett Stansell

SGA presidential candidate Jared Hunter and his campaign responded to the violations handed down from the Elections Board in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning, stating that they disagreed with the ruling.

 “We believe that the published allegation statements were inherently different from what actually occurred,” the Facebook post said. According to the post, the Hunter campaign has already begun an appeals process.

In another post published shortly after, the Hunter campaign asked anyone who is affiliated with Hunter to stop campaigning on his behalf, in accordance with the campaign ban set in place by the Elections Board.

Lillian Roth, the incumbent SGA president running for re-election, reacted to the news of Hunter’s by maintaining she wants a clean race. 

“I don’t want to comment on any of my opponents’ actions, but I will say that I will always advocate for a clean and transparent campaign for all candidates and I hope that my opponents will do the same,” Roth said.

Presidential hopeful Gene Fulmer reacted to Hunter’s violations by coming out in support of the elections board. 

“In light of recent events, I want to voice my support of the Elections Board and my continued trust that they will cultivate a fair election season and uphold the integrity that we all value,” he said.

Hunter and his campaign staff have been suspended from campaigning until Monday, March 6 by the Elections Board after being found guilty of two major ethical violations and one intermediate violation on Tuesday night. The campaign blackout period will begin on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m.

The Elections Board ruled that Hunter was guilty of a major ethical violation for providing a bar tab to those in attendance at his kickoff party, which was held at Heat Pizza Bar on Friday, Feb. 24. According to the Elections Board report, this was a violation because a bar tab would be considered “anything of tangible value…to affect a student’s vote.”

Hunter was also found guilty of committing an intermediate violation for exceeding the $1000 spending limit by permitting the use of a $500 bar tab that was not included with the $953 budget his campaign reported.

Jared Hunter was found guilty of a second major ethical violation for omitting or falsifying information while testifying to the Elections Board.

As a result of the two major campaign ethics violations, Jared Hunter must complete 45 total hours of community service in restitution by the end of the Spring semester. Ten of those hours have to be completed by Monday, March 6 at 8 a.m., when he is permitted to campaign again. Hunter, along with his entire campaign staff and all people that can be organizationally affiliated with him, will not be able to campaign for him during the five-day ban.

Even though his campaign has been temporarily suspended, Hunter will still be allowed to participate in the presidential debate on Sunday, March 5. He is barred from campaigning before or after the event in any way.

The Election Board gave notice that if Jared Hunter or any member of his campaign staff are found guilty of a violation of any kind, whether it be major, intermediate or minor, Hunter will be disqualified from this election.

A report of Hunter’s case has been sent to the Office of Student Conduct for further review.

The violations handed down by the Elections Board were not the only controversies Hunter’s campaign faced on Tuesday. Hunter came under fire after a video surfaced on social media comparing his campaign video to a Cintas commercial. The video, which was posted by multiple University of Alabama students on Facebook and Twitter, showed Hunter’s campaign ad and the Cintas ad side-by-side, displaying similarities between the two. One of the students who posted the comparison video is directly affiliated with presidential hopeful Gene Fulmer’s campaign in a supportive capacity. Fulmer stated that some of his supporters discovered the similarities between Hunter’s video and the Cintas advertisement and expressed concerns about it to his staff.

“We understand that this does not make or break a candidate’s campaign, but felt that releasing the video would allow the student body to make a more informed decision on the integrity of the candidates,” Fulmer said.

Hunter had already created waves on Tuesday when he admitted to being backed by Theta Nu Epsilon, better known on campus as “The Machine,” in a column published in the Opinions section of The Crimson White. This move was completely unprecedented, as many candidates who have been supported by Theta Nu Epsilon in the past have not declared so publicly.

Hunter had not yet given comment by the time of publication on any of the events that occurred Tuesday, including the violations handed out from the Elections Board or the video comparing his ad to a Cintas commercial.