The Review Board of the Student Assembly repealed the sanctions made by the Election Commission suspending Kaveh Sadeghian’s ’12 campaign after an emergency hearing at 6:45 a.m. today.
The hearing was held in response to Sadeghian’s appeal, which he issued after receiving the sanctions on Monday night. These sanctions stated that Sadeghian was in violation of the “Bribery of a Voter” clause of the Student Assembly Code. The sanction would have suspended Sadeghian’s campaign for 48 hours.
“The Review Board finds insufficient evidence to support the charge of bribery of a voter by Presidential Candidate Kaveh Sadeghian,” the Review Board Majority Opinion stated. “The Board does, however, impose the sanction of a formal Warning against Mr. Sadeghian.”
While the Review Board deemed there to be a lack of evidence to find Sadeghian guilty of a class three violation, a formal warning was issued because the Review Board felt that the situation could have been handled more carefully.
“It is our opinion that this whole situation could have been avoided if Mr. Sadeghian had made the separation of his candidacy and his tenure as Vice President more clear throughout the conversation,” the Majority Opinion states. “More attention should have been paid to the emails to ensure that any misunderstanding or misquotings were resolved immediately.”
When determining the definition of evidence, the Review Board differed from the Election Commission’s decision. Because the SA has no outline for standard of proof, the amount of evidence needed to accuse Sadeghian was up to interpretation.
“There is no guideline to say what constitutes guilty or not guilty so we interpreted that to mean it is up to the Election Commission to determine what they determine proof to be and it is up to us to decide what we feel proof to be,” Chairman of the Review Board John Michael King ’11 said.
After establishing the standard of proof needed to be found guilty of any violation, the Review Board members determined the amount of evidence in this case to be inadequate for a class three violation.
“We felt that the standard of proof the Election Commission was given was far too liberal a standard of proof,” King said. “If we were to commit someone of a class three offense, we need to see more.”
In addition, the Review Board found fault with the Election Commission’s use of clause 5.3-5.3 of the SA Code stating “Other rules, regulations, or processes not specified in this code but deemed necessary by the Elections Commission for the successful implementation of 5.3 may be implemented.” Upon further investigation, the Review Board found that this code did not exist.
“It was determined that 5.3-5.3 does not refer to any tangible section of the Code and this does not grant the Election Commission the power they claimed in order to adjust sanctions,” the Majority Opinion states.
Chairman of the Elections Commission Ryan Ruzic J.D., ’11 Ruzic stated this part of the code was old language that was never properly updated.
“Turns out that over the years, new language was added to the code but no one thought to update the reference at the end,” Ruzic said. “That is 5.3-5 no longer referred to numbers that it was supposed to refer to, so the Review Board decided that since that was out of date, that rule was no longer in effect.”
Without the use of this code, the Election Commission was not able to accuse Sadeghian of a class three violation and issue a class two punishment. Instead, the Review Board evaluated the evidence and found that there was no class one, two or three violation based on the evidence presented.
“We determined he was definitely not guilty of a class three violation,” King said. “Then we went through and looked at class one and class two and they did not fall under any of those categories. Then, we said he was not guilty of any election violation.”
The Review Board is comprised of seven students appointed by the current SA President. In order to convene an emergency hearning, five of the seven members must be present. Six members were able to convene for the emergency hearing. Members present include Chairman John Michael King ’11, Allen Blehl ’14, Corbett Drummey ’12, Andy Longosz ’12, William McConnell ’14 and David Wasserstein ’14.
“The Review Board did something truly amazing. That body hasn’t met in two years because we haven’t had a case in that long,” Ruzic said. “In almost no time almost all of them got together and met at 6:45 to deal with this issue before the thing came into affect.”
In response to this ruling, Sadeghian was extremely grateful, and is now turning his attention toward the next two days of campaigning.
“I am really glad that we didn’t give in to the politics,” Sadeghian said. “It is not something that we are going to let effect us. At this point, we are just going to look forward. The whole point of this campaign is to look forward.”
Current Class of 2013 President and SA presidential candidate David Alpert ’13 agreed that he was glad that both candidates could put this incident behind them and focus on the important thing at hand: the issues.
“I’m glad the Review Board reversed the Election Commission’s decision,” Alpert said in a statement to the Flat Hat. “I didn’t believe what happened to Kaveh and Molly was fair or right. Tam and I are really looking forward to putting this unfortunate distraction behind us and getting back to the issues.”
While Ruzic did not necessarily agree with the decision of the Review Board in determining level of evidence needed to accuse someone of a class three violation, he found the Review Board’s decision fair.
“It seems to me that the decision they made was a reasonable one,” Ruzic said. “My concern, and the reason that the election commission came out the way it did originally, is that if we acquire as high a standard of evidence as the Review Board would have liked, it would be difficult to provide that kind of evidence for violations in the future.”