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O'Hara Factor
Thursday, February 23, 2006

AIM profile downs Tubbs (?)

The Wildcat reports that Exec. VP candidate Rhonda Tubbs' disqualification was because of a friend's AOL instant messenger profile.

In comparison, I found the ability of individuals to independently campaign last year to be rather free. A good friend of mine even started an unofficial Xanga site in support of candidates Michael Franklin and Keven Barker. By this standard, Matthew Boepple and Michelle Gregory would have one violation each for my endorsement if it wasn't for the disclaimer "The opinions stated herein are mine alone."

The issue brings into question the extent of freedom of speech in the election. Do friends have the right to endorse candidates on personal space? In principle, they should. In the meantime, friends of candidates should start labeling online plugs and endorsements personal and unofficial.

Update (9:42 pm - 9:50 pm): It has been pointed out that Tubbs claims it was an AIM profile, but the violation being an AIM profile is by no means a report from the elections commissioner. Moreover, I recognize that my endorsement would not cause a violation citation in actuality because I'm not by any means a member of their "staff[s]".

Section 7-4.01 of the Elections Code states that candidates agree in their disclaimer form in part that "I will train my staff in the Code and will be entirely responsible for their actions." The Wildcat calls the individual who supposedly wrote the AIM profile a "friend", not a "staff member." There's no telling what exactly happened here without official word from the elections commissioner, who has set a standard of keeping such records of violations private.

So if the elections commissioner's records are private, then what obligates candidates to tell the truth about what these violations really are?

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