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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Commissioner: campus election regulation legally dubious

No fines will be levied against student body president candidate Ed “El Ramos” Brown for violating campaign rules by accepting an endorsement from the off-campus newspaper the Texaminer.
Brown, a senior economics major, violated an election regulation which states, “No candidate may accept any endorsement from any organization that is not a student organization recognized by Texas A&M�University.”
Student Government Association Election Commissioner Erin Eckhart said she discussed Brown’s violation with a member of the Student Activities department staff who is a lawyer and decided not to pursue regulations because she was unsure of the legitimacy of the regulation.
“This was not the time to make a big deal out of (the Texaminer endorsement),” Eckhart said.
Brown said he was aware that he would be violating regulations before he accepted the endorsement but chose to accept it anyway, intending to not pay the fine.
“All Aggies have a voice, so we shouldn’t just listen to the ones in University-recognized organizations,” Brown said.
President of the Houston chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union David George said in a letter to A&M�General Counsel Delmar Cain that the regulation prohibiting outside endorsement violates, “the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, the regulation violates Free Exercise and Freedom of Associations
Clauses.”
George was enlisted to help Brown by Texaminer editor Marck McCaig, a sophomore finance major, after a phone conversation on Wednesday, March 19, between Eckhart and Scott Smith, Brown’s campaign manager. During the conversation Eckhart told Smith a daily fine of $25 could be imposed on Brown because of the endorsement.
Eckhart said when she discussed the situation with a staff member in Student Activities she showed him the letter, but George’s involvement did not weigh heavily on her decision.
Brown and McCaig said they will continue their legal battle even though Brown will not be fined.
“There are greater issues at hand that need to be dealt with,” McCaig said.
McCaig lists 14 regulations that he believes violate the Constitution and wants SGA�to address.
Brown said he also rejects adding $5 on to his budget to account for fliers The Texaminer published and is posting on campus in support of him.
“We didn’t solicit his help and don’t intend on recognizing the expense as ours. Also it is obvious these are not my fliers because my fliers are cute and nice,” Brown said.
Eckhart said the election commission will include the cost of the fliers in Brown’s budget.
“Any flier containing a candidate’s name is considered financial input (toward a campaign’s budget),” Eckhart said.

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