MSA candidates raise thousands in pursuit of presidency

BEC Chairwoman Brooke Wiggins: “I think we have created barriers for running in MSA. People assume now that you have to spend a lot of money to be able to run for an MSA position.”

Nathan Willett and Payton Englert have raised almost $5,000 for their MSA presidential bid, with opponents Tori Schafer/Riley de Leon planning to spend $1,800 and Stockton/Gulati $1,500. Currently, there is no rule that prohibits candidates from spending this much campaigning.

The Residence Halls Association has a cap of $300 per slate during the election season. This funding is actually provided by RHA’s budget. The Board of Elections Commissioners, which oversees the Missouri Students Association presidential and Senate elections, does not cap campaign spending.

The BEC does require slates to turn in a form at the end of each week recording any donations or campaign spending $100 or more. Two of those forms have been submitted so far. According to the forms, most of the slates’ money raised has gone to promotional items like T-shirts, fliers and even the Willett/Englert couch.

“I think campaign funding absolutely needs to be capped at a certain amount,” Schafer said in an email. “Most schools do have a cap. We pulled finances together once we decided to run. Riley and I both work multiple jobs, and that's the only reason we're able to afford running.”

Willett/Englert’s original fundraising goal was $10,000. The Schafer/de Leon slate is the only campaign without a public GoFundMe account. Instead, the slate has asked donors to give money to It’s On Us, a major tenet of their platform. Willett/Englert said most of their funding comes from donations or family, friends and alumni.

“$1,000 of our funds came from my personal savings from over the fall semester (primarily from an internship),” Gulati said in an email. “The rest was raised through friends and family.”

The BEC chairperson is ultimately responsible for revising the BEC Handbook and making any changes to election regulation each year. Wiggins, who chose not to rewrite the handbook this year, said she would add campaign finance regulations to the next handbook if it were up to her.

“I think we have created barriers for running in MSA,” Wiggins said. “People assume now that you have to spend a lot of money to be able to run for an MSA position. We have gotten to the point in MSA elections where there’s a financial standard that has to be this way. If I wrote the next handbook I would add stuff [funding regulation] in it.”

Edited by Emily Gallion | egallion@themaneater.com

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