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No violation found for Ohio State USG campaign accused of failing to report a ‘malicious’ expense

February 18, 2014

young.1693@osu.edu

An Undergraduate Student Government campaign accused of failing to report a campaign expense was found not to have committed a violation.

There was a judicial panel hearing Tuesday about the case. The panel — which consists of a clerk of court with eight judges and a chief justice, who are all students — found that USG presidential candidate and current vice president Josh Ahart and his runningmate Jen Tripi had not committed a violation in a case brought against them by three other campaign teams.

“The judicial panel has unanimously decided that Josh and Jen were not found in violation of falsifying documents submitted to the judicial panel. Therefore, no penalty has been assessed,” the clerk of court emailed statement, which was obtained by The Lantern Tuesday, said. The email also said the decision could be appealed.

The plaintiff brief had alleged the Ahart-Tripi campaign team failed to report the purchase of a domain name “clearly meant to deter an opposing campaign.”

The brief was filed by Celia Wright, Leah Lacure, Vytas Aukstuolis, Nicholas Macek, Mohamad Mohamad and Sean Crowe.

The domain name in question was “voteceliaandleah.com,” which public record from GoDaddy, a domain and website service, showed was registered to an email address belonging to the Ahart-Tripi campaign manager Tim Lanzendorfer in November.

The plaintiff brief argued failing to report the alleged purchasing of the domain name was a violation of USG bylaws.

“Given that almost three months have elapsed with no documentation of the purchase and the clearly malicious nature of the purchase, meant to interfere with the operations of another team, it is evident that the failure to disclose information was not a simple clerical error but instead an act meant to mislead the judicial panel and obstruct an opposing campaign,” the brief said.

Ahart said after the hearing he was excited about the panel’s decision.

“We are thrilled that the judicial panel ruled unanimously in our favor, as Jen and I never committed any bylaw violations,” Ahart said in an email. “We’re very excited to focus on the issues that affect students in the upcoming weeks.”

If found guilty of the alleged bylaw breach, Ahart and Tripi could have been taken off the ballot, however the brief stated that punitive action shouldn’t have been taken against the nearly 40 General Assembly candidates running on the Ahart-Tripi slate.

The registered campaigns set to appear on the ballot are: Ahart and Tripi; Wright and Lacure; Aukstuolis and Macek; Mohamad and Crowe; Andrew Warnecke and Logan Recker; and Ryan Hedrick and Nicole Spaetzel. The Warnecke-Recker and Hedrick-Spaetzel campaigns were the two campaigns not listed on the plaintiff brief.

USG campaigning is set to begin Wednesday with voting between March 3 and 5.

Wright, a third-year in public health and USG’s senior internal affairs director, said she was “surprised” with the judicial panel’s decision.

“I am not sure that it sets a good precedent for the culture of campaigning that we want to conduct,” she said. “I think sometimes the (judicial panel) rules in favor of the least controversial decision.”

Wright said she didn’t agree with one particular part of the panel’s decision, which she said had agreed with the defense’s argument that the domain could have been a personal purchase made by Lanzendorfer.

“I disagree that the domain was merely a personal purchase of the campaign manager and I’m interested in how voters feel about that alleged use,” she said. “I’m not sure why he would want to own that domain … the defendants said that we would be leaving something to chance if we assumed that it was not simply for personal use.”

Aukstuolis, a third-year in public affairs who is not currently involved with USG, said he, too, was worried about the implications of the decision.

“I hope the decision (doesn’t) start a precedent for future campaigns to start fundraising to block the ability of other teams to campaign effectively along with other dirty campaign practices,” Aukstuolis said.

He added that he “disagreed completely with a lot of the (defense’s) points,” but thinks the judicial panel would have wanted “overwhelming evidence” to disqualify a USG member from the election.

Mohamad, a third-year in chemical engineering and engineering physics who does not officially hold a position in USG this year, said in an email his feelings on the decision were from the “perspective of the undergraduate student.”

“As a student, I am going to vote for the president, vice president and senators that best represent me. The fact that people are being allowed to campaign unfairly with no consequences, and breaching trust before they are even elected concerns me as a member of the undergraduate student body,” Mohamad said.

Wright said the incident is still going to have an impact on the election, regardless of the findings.

“Leah and I now have the responsibility of setting an example for campaign ethics as we realize – we realize that that example needs to be set now,” Wright said.


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Comments (45)

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  1. Concerned Student says:

    Lol interesting that I saw Ahart and Byrum (the chief justice of the judicial panel) walking around the student union and acting chummy all day. Something is fishy here with the decision. I don’t trust Ahart, Tripi, Lanzendorfer, OR Byrum. Dirty campaigning from those folks.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bylaw violation or not, it was clearly unethical.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Violation or not, what the hell is Lanzendorfer doing with a domain containing his opponent’s names in it? Regardless, Ahart’s entire campaign is tarnished by this situation. They clearly lack the confidence in themselves to run a clean campaign.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Celia seems pretty petty and slimey, I don’t see why anyone would vote for her.

  5. Student A says:

    I was curious how the judicial panel unanimously came to this conclusion. I found this part of the USG Constitution to be interesting. “All vacancies on the Judicial Panel shall be filled through appointment by the Executive Branch and confirmed by two thirds of the General Assembly via the form of a resolution”. Josh is in the Executive Branch, right?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Josh Ahart is staying a fifth year solely so he can run and (try to) win. With an extra year of being scummy under his belt, it’s no surprise that he and his “objective” friend Byrum found a way to cover their, and that idiot Tim Lanzendorfer’s, asses.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m in USG and I don’t even know who Jen Tripi is. Josh had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find his team. And apparently he scraped far enough to find Byrum.

  8. Taylor Stepp says:

    You can download USG bylaws on their website. It mentions that falsifying documents is grounds for disqualification. I want to know how filing deliberately inaccurate expenses isn’t falsification. Can anybody clarify?

  9. Celia Wright says:

    Anybody calling out Tyler Byrum for simply having to preside over this pettiness and nit-picking should at least put their real name in their reply. Just saying.

  10. Erik Leiden says:

    I agree with Celia. These people commenting are acting unethical.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I actually find what Lanzendorfer did to be quite clever (the actual purchasing of the domain name, not the failing to report it). This generates a lot more interest in a USG campaign season that is generally not cared about. One campaign was outsmarted and decided the best course of action was to tell on the other campaign. Putting this much time, effort and hope into disqualifying a candidate (and then complaining after they failed instead of moving on) may also show a lack of professionalism and confidence in their own campaign as well as a degree of pettiness.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m not satisfied with this decision. Will there be any consequences at all for the campaign manager’s unethical actions? I want to see new people in USG next year, not these same guys who are clearly taking unfair advantages.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Just an FYI, you only know of the results. The opinion (aka the reasoning) hasn’t been released yet so Celia has no clue to what she is saying.

  14. Celia Wright says:

    Anon @ 12:43 – I resent you saying that! Expect a JP brief next week for your malicious actions, sir/madam.

  15. OSU Student says:

    For all future articles regarding this election, I ask that The Lantern please list the slates in alphabetical order. It’s the most fair and ethical thing to do from a reporting standpoint.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Agree with the first commenter 100%

  17. anonymous says:

    Glad the only ones with USG experience are the ones slandering each other and throwing one another under every CABS bus that comes by. Maybe it’s time we elect someone who isn’t in USG…

  18. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone have any clue what a vytas is yet? I can’t find it in the dictionary…

  19. Erik Leiden says:

    I’m actually Erik Leiden and would really prefer if people didn’t use my name to comment on these asinine threads? Thanks.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I recommend to the other candidates that they purchase a JoshAhartIsAPoopyHead.com for their clearly personal non-malicious use.

  21. @studentA says:

    Josh Ahart is in the executive branch as VP but also serves as the speaker of the senate in his role as well. Very interesting point you make regarding the objectivity of the judicial panel

  22. Erik Leiden says:

    Excellent point Erik Leiden! Good luck in your own campaign!

  23. Erik Leiden says:

    Good point Erik Leiden about Erik Leiden.

  24. Erik Leiden says:

    Good point Erik Leiden about Erik Leiden.

  25. Anonymous says:

    “Putting this much time, effort and hope into disqualifying a candidate (and then complaining after they failed instead of moving on) may also show a lack of professionalism and confidence in their own campaign as well as a degree of pettiness.”

    Yes, because Ahart and tripi must be so confident to feel the need to buy voteceliaandleah.com

  26. Anonymous says:

    Ahart should have pulled a Christie and used Lazendorfer as a scapegoat

  27. @ 10:31 am says:

    He did.

  28. anon says:

    This is proof democracy is suspended. What a trashy move by ahart and co.

  29. Erik Leiden says:

    Who is Erik Leiden? What is Vytas? Why is Josh?

  30. Anonymous says:

    The fact this is even debatable is hilarious! The buying & selling of competitive website addresses is done everyday all around the world. Addresses are bought, bundled and remerchandised. The judicial panel made the correct decision. Mr.Ahart has a brilliant campaign mgr. Good for him but BRAVO to Mr. Lanzendorfer!! Good long term strategic thinking. That’s what is needed.

  31. USG member says:

    I personally witnessed as Taylor cornered Tyler in his office earlier, after sternly announcing “We need to talk.” He likely threatened him with allegations of bias and some kind of personal ruin if he DQ’d Josh. Taylor *really* didn’t want Josh to be disqualified. Keep the dynasty running…

  32. USG Member says:

    I’ve heard Celia and a judicial panel justice are really close and are in CCWA together. There’s rumors going around that there has been some unethical behavior.

  33. Anon says:

    This is why people hate USG. Don’t vote Celia OR Josh. Easy.

  34. Anonymous says:

    @USG 1:02, that makes sense because the judicial panel can easily reach a unanimous decision without the vote of all of its justices. Perhaps there was no strong-arming involved here, but if there was it seems evident which side would be guilty of it.

  35. Ridiculous says:

    I don’t get why the domain name is brought up against Ahart but the fact that Wright couldn’t even turn in her petitions in on time isn’t. Also doesn’t her team have someone from the Judicial Panel on it? VOTE GOAT

  36. Anonymous says:

    Warnecke/Recker2014

  37. Ridiculous - what says:

    @Ridiculous – Judicial team members can’t be affiliated with teams nor can they run for anything. What? Who are you even talking about?

  38. angry student says:

    USG is pretty useless anyway.

  39. Brennan Barrington says:

    This kind of thing is one reason I’m running for Senator (engineering): I think USG needs some outsiders, who can’t or won’t pull these stunts and then get off by calling in favors.

  40. Karen Smith says:

    I’m gonna vote for Celia Wright because she got hit by that bus.

  41. Gretchen Wieners says:

    I’m voting for Josh Ahart because he pushed her.

  42. The Truth says:

    Tyler Byrum is affiliated with Ahart’s campaign. It’s a dirty campaign, a dirty election to come, and a guilty, dirty chief justice.

    tOSU should be ashamed of themselves. For a school that prides themselves on equality and fairness, Byrum and Ahart sure aren’t representing it that way.

  43. USG Member says:

    @The Truth

    Okay Niraj, didn’t you graduate from OSU? Why are you helping Celia and Leah?

  44. Anonymous says:

    The other teams should be happy Niraj is helping Celia and Leah. Why would they want help from a guy who spent three years planning his campaign and still came in a pathetic third place. I’m surprised he is able to take a break from studying law/sucking up to every tea party blow hard on twitter to help with a USG race. Glad to see he is still throwing his weight around.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of the issue, The Lantern has been completely biased in their coverage of the USG campaigns. This article only includes quotes from students that disagreed with the ruling.

    Each team of potential candidates have had violations brought against them that have not been covered by The Lantern.

    Where is the fair news reporting?

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