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Ohio State USG candidates accused by opposition of failing to report ‘malicious’ expense

An Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government campaign is being accused by other candidates of failing to report a campaign expense.

According to a plaintiff brief submitted to the USG judicial panel and obtained by The Lantern, a case is being brought against presidential candidate and current vice president Josh Ahart and his runningmate Jen Tripi by candidates Celia Wright, Leah Lacure, Vytas Aukstuolis, Nicholas Macek, Mohamad Mohamad and Sean Crowe.

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

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

A hearing on the case is set to be brought before the judicial panel, which consists of a clerk of courts with eight judges and a chief justice, Tuesday evening. Ahart declined to provide comment to The Lantern on the case until after the hearing.

Tripi and Lanzendorfer did not respond to email requests for comment Monday.

Failing to report the alleged purchasing of the domain name is a violation of USG bylaws, the plaintiff brief argues.

“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 says.

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

USG campaigning is set to begin Feb. 19 with voting between March 3 and 5.

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 not listed on the plaintiff brief.

Though Wright, a third-year in public health and USG’s senior internal affairs director, declined to comment on the specifics of the case because the hearing hadn’t yet happened, she said the website purchase wasn’t discovered until recently.

“We didn’t discover it until we tried to make our own website. We bought the domain in I think late January, and it was then we discovered that this domain had been taken,” Wright said. “We weren’t sure how to handle it.”

She said some of the other campaigns became aware of the issue as well, and the three campaigns decided to move forward together with the case.

“I think all candidates in this election are interested in pursuing an ethical, clean campaign,” she said. “It was in that interest that it was decided to pursue an investigation.”

While she wouldn’t comment on whether she thought in this case the punishment of disqualification would fit the violation, Wright said “we were all aware of what the punishment would be when we decided to file this brief.”

She added, though, it was important to her to know the rest of the General Assembly slate wouldn’t be disqualified if Ahart and Tripi were found to have violated USG bylaws.

Mohamad, a third-year in chemical engineering and engineering physics who does not officially hold a position in USG this year, also declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but emailed The Lantern a witness statement he filed.

“I’m running for president of USG, so yes, these other campaigns are my competition but they are also undergraduate students … anything that affects them, affects me as an aspiring representative of the undergraduate student body,” the statement read.

“If I wasn’t running, I’d want to see the candidates who were doing work that presents benefits to the student body before they even get into office. I wouldn’t want to see candidates involve themselves in selfish endeavors and I would expect candidates to run with integrity. I wouldn’t want to see a candidate violate the bylaws and succeed in sabotaging the campaign of another candidate.”

Aukstuolis, a third-year in public affairs who is not currently actively involved with USG, declined to comment on case specifics as well, but said the issue was brought up to him “very recently.”

Aukstuolis said he thinks the potential disqualification sentence is fitting of the bylaw violation because he believes student government would have made it fair if it wasn’t already.

Wright said the decision is expected to be released within a week after the Tuesday hearing.

53 comments

  1. If a possible USG candidate buys a website, and no one cares about USG, was the website really purchased?

  2. Ahart is a fraud

  3. The election hasn’t even happened yet, but USG has already found a way to do something extremely unimportant.

  4. This is why we need Goat. Goat wouldn’t do baaaaad things like this. #JoinTheHerd

  5. #bigthings

  6. It is really unfortunate that this is what the Lantern chooses to find important and that this is what they believe students want to hear. Why are students so excited to see someone who has great dreams for USG, students and the university fail? Unfortunately elections are never clean, as so much is at stake but an article that depicts Josh and Jen as the bad guys is unfair. A case was filed against Celia and Leah however that was not written about in the Lantern. A disqualification was also possible in the case filed against Celia and Leah. I urge the lantern to report on what these teams are doing and have done for students and not petty ways in which they might have failed.

  7. The Lanten: Ohio State’s own FoxNews. I could cut the bias with a knife.

  8. What was the case for against Celia and Leah?

  9. ^They e-mailed their senator list in late… only eligible for a $20 fine lol

  10. Umm… this article isn’t biased? If you don’t like the article, you probably don’t like the facts.
    We’re watching a candidate “fail”? Fail to not indulge in malice? Point to another candidate that took the time to buy another team’s website and I’ll agree with your suggestion that “elections are never clean.”

  11. May not have seemed so biased if Ahart had commented just saying

  12. USG does stuff no one cares about. Great article.

  13. While it is unfortunate that this has gotten attention and is the first major news about the election, isn’t it a good thing that finally we are moving towards fair and civil elections?

  14. USG gets $350,000 a year. Either don’t let them have that much money, or hold them accountable to fair elections so candidates don’t cheat to get to be president just to put in on their resumes.

  15. hey so who do i talk to in USG about legalizing gay marriage and cannabis??~

  16. As a member of USG, I have watched as Josh’s campaign has spent most of their time smearing other candidates. I’m happy to see the field of contestants reject immaturity and put ethics. Precedent needs to be set.

  17. @Anonymous at 10:32PM

    As a member of USG, I have watched as Celia’s* campaign has spent most of their time smearing other candidates. I’m happy to see the field of contestants reject immaturity and put ethics. Precedent needs to be set.

    *corrected

  18. @Anonymous at 10:34PM

    If any other campaigns, like you allege, have practiced poor campaign ethics, I would hope that they would be brought to the Judicial Panel. Why haven’t they been?

  19. @Anonymous at 10:32
    Uh…. we know that you didn’t post the original comment…

  20. @Anonymous at 10:58
    Prove it.

  21. I’m interested in seeing how the rest of his campaign reacts to this news- I’ve got to assume very few people were privy to this going on- but this is especially unfortunate considering USG shot down a resolution for ethical campaigns last week, though it was kind of a silly resolution to begin with

  22. @M
    Good point. Obviously there’s a lot more than a website at hand here. Wonder if anyone will jump ship?

  23. How could anyone say this is biased. Josh refused to comment– pleading the fifth?

  24. Don’t any of you go to sleep besides actively trying to campaign/libel in the comments section? No one hears you, no one cares.

  25. Not malicious at all. Move on and let the issues determine the election, not the purchase of a domain!

  26. While far from saying that Tim is in any way a smart man, maybe next time you will buy your website fast enough… #justsaying

  27. usg is so fun lol

  28. Ahart’s team should. think to use Zach & Christina’s (2009) case as precedent. They owned multiple domain names, but only used one for the purposes of campaigning. Went to J.P. because the other one (“a test site” of their website, used to prevent violations) was searched for by the head of J.P. and seen. I am nearly positive that only one web domain was on the ledger, and that was the one that was actually marketed to students. If Ahart doesn’t use the website for promotional purposes during the campaign, it’s not a campaign expense.

    And old Buck is right – all candidates need to scope out domains asap, or get creative. Celiaandleah wasn’t taken? Celialeah? CeliaandleahUSG?

  29. Well, this is entertaining! When I was at OSU, 1978 graduate, the only people who gave a flip about USG were the people in USG! I see nothing has changed and USG is still a joke. Fact is that anybody can buy any domain name they want. I suspect the domain in question is available for the right price.

  30. Back when I was in USG in 1966…oh wait…it didn’t exist.

  31. Former USG- I assume that Celia’s campaign made the unwise decision to buy branded merchandise before purchasing the proper domain name

  32. if I was on ahart’s team, I would definitely jump ship. this is an awful look for his campaign. and if this is any indication as to how he’ll run USG if (BIG IF) elected, I’m nervous for next year.

  33. No one cares. Silver spoon kids.

  34. @Anonymous at 11:06

    I would be just as nervous for next year if a team would happen to win that failed to register their campaign before the proper deadline. Even though they had months to prepare and only had to submit a list containing the candidate, their campaign manager and their treasure.

    If they can’t manage that, how can they manage a whole student organization with a couple hundred thousand dollars in their bank?

  35. @Anonymous at 12:02

    that’s fair, but these are two very different faults. wright’s team simply submitted their list late. ahart’s team purchased a domain with the intention of sabotaging wright’s campaign.

    ahart obviously views wright as a threat. i’m just glad i left usg when i did.

  36. Who we really need right now is Jacob Coate. USG needs to be reformed.

  37. Stop trying to make Jacob Coate happen. He’s never going to happen.

  38. This is a good time to investigate the finances of USG in general. Remember, many companies market directly to student governments in order to take advantage of a perceived lack of sophistication in their handling of large sums of money,the letting of contracts, and their often secretive “in” cliques who can sign the checks.

  39. To Anonymous 12:02

    The team wasn’t disqualified because the exact time was arbitrary and not listed in the bylaws, nor did the bylaws direct the candidates to the one subsection of the USG website, where the 8:00am deadline was listed, nor in the information sessions for candidates. A candidate team who is well versed in the bylaws would have no reason to go to the particular tab, within that particular dropdown menu of the website because they already know the enumerated bylaws

    You can look at the jusicial board decision here

    http://usg.osu.edu/government/the_judicial_panel

    good try though

  40. That was a really smart move to buy the only website available to your opponents!!! Brilliant move.

  41. I hear this Warnecke guy might be good

  42. This is why we need better accountability in USG. Make the correct decision, and Vote Goat For USG.

    http://www.goatforusg.com

  43. Warnecke/Recker 2014

  44. whats a vetus

  45. Your comments are irrelevant. No question he will be DQ’d. Maybe USG will actually do something next year now that Ahart can’t run.

  46. @6:51

    It’s safe to assume you don’t know or haven’t read the USG election bylaws. There is little doubt that Ahart did anything that would result in a DQ.

  47. So, what happened? Come on Lantern! Get on it.

  48. Useless USG. Why not disband it and give some cash back from their operating cost to students?

  49. I defended a Tax Suit a while back by noting that the entertainment industry had stolen dozens of phrases and ideas from my copyrighted work–many poem titles and lines, and other creative expressions converted directly to film titles. The list of intellectual property violations numbers in the hundreds or thousands, including naming the following from my poems, without my consent or prior knowledge: Vantage Point (2007), Idiocracy (2006), The Aura (Spanish: El Aura) (2005), Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, Sky High (2005 film), The Perfect Score (2004); The Score, Wake of Death (2004), Torque (2004), You Wish! (2003), (2003), Big Fish ( 2003), The Ring (2002 ), I Am Sam (2001), The Sixth Sense(1999), Beowulf (2007), Gryphon (2007), Stomp the Yard (2007), Made of Honor (2008) Felon (2008), Box Elder (2008) and Fata Morgana (2007) Avatar (2008/2009) Daybreak (2008) Vantage Point (2008). All these words and titles come from Plaintiff’s copyrighted work Tribute Anthology (2007), unmarketed, meaning the information was actually taken directly from my computer or discs.
    I’ve filed several federal suits, one of which was in litigation for a decade before the community–through extensive battery and fraud–made false accusations and created new issues to prevent a just public condemnation of the community for eviscerating my rights over the course of decades. The worst liars, and the worst of these criminals–they are actually violating criminal codes daily–are on the right. A good thing to note when you’re dealing with the manipulative self-impressed chess player sociopaths in the right wing intelligentsia, never accept the explanation they give you, always go back a step or two in time, and dig a little deeper. They’re invariably lying.

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