MSA presidential slate issued major infraction

Spencer Maass and Shelby Catalano accepted the major infraction issued to them.
Missouri Students Association presidential slate Spencer Maass and Shelby Catalano discuss their campaign during the second MSA debate hosted by the MSA Board of Elections Commissioners on Oct. 10. Mass-Catalano have been issued a major infraction that resulted in a seven-day suspension of campaigning.  Maneater File Photo

Spencer Maass and Shelby Catalano, candidates of one of three Missouri Students Association presidential and vice presidential slates, were issued a major infraction by the Board of Elections Commissioners Monday morning.

As specified in the BEC Presidential Election Handbook, slates must file required paperwork with the BEC by 5 p.m. every Friday. Because the slate failed to submit the necessary paperwork Friday, it was issued the infraction at 8 a.m. Monday.

After the infraction was accepted, the slate was given a four-hour grace period to take down all campaign materials, including online materials. The grace period ended at 7:37 p.m. Monday, but their materials remained online after that deadline passed. This could result in a second major infraction and expulsion from the election, according to the BEC handbook. However, because infractions cannot be issued outside business hours, no decision will be announced until Tuesday morning.

The first infraction was a matter of miscommunication, Maass/Catalano campaign manager David Wettroth said. He had been responsible for filing the paperwork in previous weeks, but last week he was unable to submit it and assumed Maass and Catalano would submit it.

“I think it was just a slip of the mind,” Wettroth said. “I had filed it (the paperwork) for the past two to three weeks, so I think it was just something I should have brought up to them and let them know I couldn’t do it this week. I just figured it was something they would make sure would get done.”

A first major infraction is punishable with the loss of campaigning privileges for one week if the slate chooses to accept the charges, according to the BEC handbook. If the slate chooses to appeal the charges, the case goes to the MSA Student Court.

Maass and Catalano announced they would accept the charges. Their loss of campaigning privileges began at 3:37 p.m. Monday, and they will not be able to resume campaigning until at 3:37 p.m. Nov. 5. Polls open for the MSA election at 6 p.m. that day.

“It wasn’t intentional by any means, but the fact of the matter is that it did happen, and there is no denying it,” Catalano said. “We’ll take the punishment soundly.”

Though the penalty is a major infraction, Wettroth said he thinks it will not be a big issue in their campaign. He said he hopes people will understand what an overwhelming job they have. He also said if they are elected, they will earn salaries that will allow them to work fewer hours and devote more time to the job.

The situation has been a learning experience for the slate, Catalano said.

“Now that it has happened, it has actually given us more insight about how we can make things work just a little bit better,” Catalano said. “It was a very unfortunate mistake and very unfortunate in timing, even, but the fact of the matter is that it happened, and the only thing you can do is move forward.”

The role of the BEC is to ensure each slate plays by the same set of rules, BEC Chairman Tyler Ricketts said. The paperwork promotes transparency in each of the slates as well.

“These forms are important for full disclosure in each campaign,” Ricketts said. “They provide information so that students and media outlets understand each slate’s campaign.”

The infraction might affect the slate’s campaign, Ricketts said.

“The infraction’s effect is going to play out in terms of the campaign’s ability to campaign in final stretch of the season,” Ricketts said. “This coming so late in the game means a lot more of a crunch in terms of campaigning, but I’m going to refrain from commenting further.”

Ricketts has done a good job of managing the BEC handbook and making reasonable rules for the slates, Wettroth said. In this case, it was an obvious infraction the slate plans to deal with, he said.

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