Accusations of injustice shroud SA election
Treasurer Neuwirt: President Nemmer unethically swaying voters
Student Association Treasurer Justin Neuwirt (left) and President Travis Nemmer campaign during the 2012 SA elections. Though they ran in different parties, Neuwirt and Nemmer were both elected. Their relationship has gone downhill at the end of this school year. Alexa Strudler /// The Spectrum
Student Association Treasurer Justin Neuwirt almost sees this year's election process as a bigger disgrace than last year's $300,000 scandal. The source of the corruption, according to Neuwirt, is President Travis Nemmer.
"If someone gets elected because of [this year's election procedure], it's not $300,000; it's now $3.8 million [the SA budget]," Neuwirt said.
Neuwirt's reasons for frustration are many, and he said Nemmer has facilitated every sketchy modus operandi.
First, Elections and Credentials (E&C) Chair Raphew Fahm - Nemmer's friend and former assistant - originally appointed Meghan McMonagle, the 2011-12 SA vice president and one of the two chief components of last year's fraudulent application scandal (the other being former Treasurer Sikander Khan, who resigned), to this year's E&C committee. Nemmer said she has since stepped down.
When Neuwirt discovered McMonagle was on the committee, he was furious. Neuwirt sent an email on the topic to Fahm. Nemmer confirmed that a confrontation ensued between Fahm and Neuwirt in Neuwirt's office.
"It's election season," Nemmer said. "Tempers run high."
But Neuwirt's complaints expand beyond McMonagle, including: debate questions being leaked by Nemmer to candidates, conflicts of interest Nemmer has established with his role in proxied meetings and someone secretly recording finance meetings and giving the files to clubs to sway their votes.
"I'm not about to sit back and let this happen," said Neuwirt, who said every member of the E&C committee has ties to Nick Johns, the Spirit presidential candidate. "I haven't slept in four days as I'm dreaming of pictures of Travis and all this s**t waking me up every five minutes. This is not for myself. This is for the students."
After Nemmer and two other moderators came up with questions for Friday's presidential debate, Nemmer called the Forward Party's hotline and asked two of the questions.
"It was a lack of judgment on my part," said Nemmer, who reached vice presidential candidate Christian Andzel on the hotline. "I asked to get a sense of whether to ask specific or general questions. I removed the offending questions, and I apologize for my error."
Nemmer said the moderators' debate questions were also stolen off his desk. He then sent an email to the candidates with a list of general topics but no specific questions.
Neuwirt also said Nemmer is facilitating severe conflicts of interest. Nemmer acted as a proxy on two separate occasions - People of Color (POC) and SA Assembly - last week, and he broke the tie for POC's ticket endorsement by choosing candidates. He chose Johns (Spirit), treasurer candidate Josh Fromm (Forward) and a Forward delegate, whose specific identity was not disclosed.
"[It is] neither illegal nor unprecedented nor, in the scope of SA history, uncommon," Nemmer said. "When I was asked to proxy and we did come up with the ties, I went out in the hall ... and called [POC Coordinator Anna Sheng, for whom he proxied] and asked who she would pick, and I respected that decision."
Neuwirt said Nemmer routinely proxies for the SA Senate, too. Neuwirt believes a non-voting member of the Senate should not be proxying for a voting member, as the Senate makes decisions that affect the SA executive board.
"Everything I've done is within the scope of the rules," Nemmer said.
Neuwirt said he knows Nemmer's actions may not have been illegal, but he thinks they have been unethical.
The problems persist. Neuwirt, the chair of SA's finance committee, decides who is allowed to enter the finance meetings, but they are not publicly accessible. He discovered last week that one of the attendees had been recording audio of the meetings and had taken the recordings to clubs, affecting whom they would support in the election.
For example, when Black Student Union (BSU) listened to the finance committee's meeting regarding next year's budget, BSU member and former Forward delegate candidate Robin Murray left his ticket and BSU withdrew its support from Forward.
Neuwirt was not willing to release the name of the person who secretly recorded the meeting, but during SA endorsements in The Spectrum's office, Forward Party presidential candidate Carson Ciggia disclosed that he believes Alana Barricks - who was proxying for Johns - recorded the meeting and shared its contents.
"The students elected me for this year," Neuwirt said. "It's obvious that the election is being pushed to one side ... and both parties are at a disadvantage. The actions of Travis and his cronies are affecting their chances."
Neuwirt said no matter what ends up happening when poll results are revealed, because of Nemmer's tactics, this year's election may be far from over.
"If [either presidential candidate] came to me Friday and said: 'S**t, I can't believe I just lost,' I would say: 'Buddy, go appeal it,'" Neuwirt said.
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