After several accusations of candidate over-spending, a VP Finance candidate has withdrawn from the race.
After a week of campaigning and online polling in preparation to appoint the unofficial Vice President Finance and Operations by tonight, the Students’ Union position will remain vacant for another week. Following a string of allegations reported to the Chief Returning Officer via email, the VP Finance by-election has been brought to a halt.
The accusations and complaints focus on an excessive use of campaign funds by VP Finance Candidate Rob MacDonald, particularly his use of a Snapchat geo-filter in an effort to endorse his campaign.
Daniel Kandie, the Chief Returning Officer for this election, explained that candidates were required to produce documentation outlining their campaign expenses at least 72 hours before the election. After discovering that MacDonald’s original statement did not account for his use of the Snapchat filter, Kandie requested a quote to finalize MacDonald’s expenses. Although the quote that MacDonald provided did state that his expenses slightly exceeded the limit Kandie had previously set, Kandie found that there was no “gross excessive campaign spending, or anything as what the complaints had said."
Kandie received more complaints the following day regarding MacDonald’s excessive spending, which he forwarded to MacDonald. MacDonald replied with a request to meet with Kandie. “We scheduled a short meeting and he explained to me that he had actually gone over the expenses, over the limit, and he had gone far beyond that. By far beyond I mean he had exceeded the limit by more than 50%.”
In an effort to meet the financial requirements MacDonald gave false receipts to Kandie, “I asked him about the receipts he had sent me,” Kandie explained, “he said he had actually changed the numbers on the receipt.”
This was quickly followed up by a meeting between the election committee, comprised of Kandie and two Deputy Returning Officers. The committee determined that “this excessive campaign spending [gave] him an unfair advantage [...] by him going over the limit he made it unfair to all the other candidates.”
The committee determined that the combined infractions constituted a major offence, “the first time by not including it in his report, the second time by sending me the wrong quotation, and the third time by sending me a falsified receipt. I believe that was grounds for a major offence."
Due to MacDonald’s choice to come forward and write an open apology, the committee allowed him the opportunity to withdraw before handing out their final decision on the matter. MacDonald chose to withdraw from the race.
In an open apology published on his Facebook page MacDonald addressed his supporters, stating: “Unfortunately, I have made a mistake. During this election I made the wrong choice to incorrectly report how much I had spent on my campaign. When the campaign started I planned out all my expenditures, to the limit of $150. I was running off information in the regulations, and when I learned that our budgets were only $100 I did not make the appropriate changes.”
Although no official penalties have been issued, MacDonald will not receive reimbursement for any of his expenses, including those within the limit assigned to the candidates, as per the regulations.
In light of this new information, Kandie believes, “It only makes sense now that we have a re-election.”
Candidates will have a chance to rewrite their biographies before the polls reopen on Tuesday, October 24 at 10:00 AM. The polls will be open for 48 hours and close Thursday, October 26th at 10:00 AM.
To answer any questions regarding the change in election schedule Kandie will be hosting an Open Question Meeting Friday, October 20 in the SUO Theatre at UNC 106 from 1-3pm.
The remaining Board of Directors election results will be not be affected.