Screenshots shed light on Gomez/Hanner campaign infractions

The screenshots were taken from a GroupMe with Haden Gomez, Chris Hanner, Josh Boehm and Natalie Edelstein.

Evidence surfaced Tuesday evening showing President-elect Haden Gomez and Vice President-elect Chris Hanner knew of a mass text sent by then-campaign manager Natalie Edelstein. The mass text was a part of a controversy in November surrounding their campaign as some said it violated the election handbook.

The evidence was found in screenshots from a GroupMe message between Gomez, Hanner, Edelstein and co-campaign manager Josh Boehm. Edelstein was fired from her position on executive cabinet in December. She gave the screenshots to Senate Speaker Kevin Carr, who shared them with The Maneater.

When asked about the screenshots, Gomez, Hanner and Boehm initially declined to comment, but Gomez later issued a statement.

“Our campaign team faced challenges not ever seen by MSA and we handled them in the way we thought to be most appropriate and most beneficial to the success of our mission,” he said in the statement.

MSA senators in the Operations Committee drafted resolutions Tuesday night seeking to block Gomez and Hanner from taking office. Gomez and Hanner are scheduled to be inaugurated Jan. 30.

According to screenshots from the GroupMe messaging app, Edelstein posted about the mass text she planned to send. The BEC handbook prohibits slates from sending mass emails, which are defined as sending the same message to more than one recipient.

She posted a copy of the message that she planned to send to all her friends.

“Hey, voting opens today for MSA President and Vice President,” the message read. “I encourage you to go to right now and vote for Gomez/Hanner. It takes 2 seconds and all you need is your pawprint and password. Every vote counts!!”

Boehm replied that he was personalizing the message depending on the group.

Hanner posted next, “Same.”

The Board of Elections Commissioners handbook’s email policy reads “if a mass email is sent on behalf of a slate with a slate’s knowledge, it will be considered a major infraction even if the email did not originate from a University account.”

The original ruling from the BEC called for a major infraction but not a dismissal from the campaign because BEC Chair Emma Henderson could not confirm Gomez and Hanner knew about it.

On Nov. 19, the student court ruled that there was “insufficient evidence to show either Gomez or Hanner had actual knowledge of the text” when they declined to overrule the BEC’s decision to issue a minor infraction.

Had the mass texts been ruled a major infraction, then the Gomez/Hanner slate would have received two major infractions and would have been subsequently disqualified from the race.

During the election, some students who had Pocket Points downloaded on their phones received a notification encouraging them to vote Gomez/Hanner. The notification was also called into question.

Publicly, Gomez maintained that Pocket Points endorsed the slate on their own, but the GroupMe messages tell a different story.

On Nov. 16, there’s a conversation among the different members debating the specific wording on the Pocket Points notification.

After the notification, the slate was issued a major infraction. Henderson told The Maneater in November that it violated their mass email policy because the use of the app is “soliciting” and “incentivising” students to vote for them via a notification from the app.

Gomez wrote that he had been in contact with a Pocket Points representative.

“He knows that it’s strictly ‘pocket points did this on our own. Haden had no contact,’” Gomez wrote.

Edelstein turned over the screenshots last Friday, a decision motivated by regret.

“I think by giving the screenshots to Kevin, I did the right thing,” Edelstein said in an interview Tuesday. “What we did wasn’t OK, and I need to make that wrong a right by letting people know what happened.”

Max Fillion contributed to this report.

Edited by Waverly Colville |

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