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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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Moped campaign video the subject of appeal filed against SBP-elect

Photo+By%3A+Katie+CanalesFinance+junior+Joseph+Benigno+was+elected+student+body+president+for+the+2015-2016+school+year+with+52+percent+of+the+vote.

Photo By: Katie Canales

Finance junior Joseph Benigno was elected student body president for the 2015-2016 school year with 52 percent of the vote.

A campaign video released by Student Body President-elect Joseph Benigno contained major violations of election regulations, an SGA Judicial Court appeal alleges.
The appeal, filed on behalf of Michael Murtha, who finished second to Benigno in last week’s election by a 52-48 split, references a video entitled “Go(Pro) With Joe,” in which Benigno rides a moped around College Station and interacts with campaign staff.
Among the 15 alleged violations are six that violate state law — “major violations,” as designated by election rules — including a failure to stop at a stop sign, operating a motorcycle without a helmet under the age of 21, driving a motorcycle on a sidewalk and driving on the left side of the roadway in a no-passing zone.
The appeal also includes three violations of election rules against displaying campaign material off-campus and two violations against more than four people campaigning in one place.
Benigno said he and his team are confident they campaigned “with the utmost integrity.”
“We will contest any and all allegations regarding the legitimacy of the SBP election results,” Benigno said in a statement to The Battalion. “We are confident that the decision the student body made on Friday will ultimately be upheld by the Judicial Court.”
Former Student Senate speaker and aerospace engineering graduate student Christopher Russo filed the appeal. In it, he says students filed the violations Thursday but the election commission issued no fines and no explanation was given for the lack of fines. In addition to Benigno, the appeal is filed against Election Commissioner Emma Douglas.
According to the appeal, another candidate for student body president, Isaiah Tsau, who received 22 percent of the initial vote as reported Friday, received $500 in fines from two major violations for campaigning in off-limit areas.
“Due to this precedent set by the Election Commission, any violations for Off-Campus Campaigning should be considered Major Violations,” the appeal states.
The appeal requests any fines be applied against Benigno’s $2,000 campaign budget. If the fines push his expenses over the limit, he could be disqualified.
“During my campaign, I made sure my team followed the rules of campaigning and at all times represented themselves and Texas A&M with honor and integrity,” Murtha said in a statement to The Battalion. “As such, we expected all other entities involved to act in the same manner.”
J-Court has voted to accept the case, according to Chief Justice Brenton Cooper. It will be heard at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The location was not yet determined at the time of press.
Video link: https://vimeo.com/120013149

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