Election Allegations False; Driskell-Burton Campaign Run Cleanly
To the editors:
I am writing to respond to the cloud of confusion surrounding the outcome of the recent Undergraduate Council presidential and vice-presidential elections. My partner, John A. Burton '01, and I are grateful for the opportunity to clear the air now.
At no time did our expenses exceed the campaign limit of $100 per candidate. When other opponents raised questions about our campaign practices, the election commission decided to audit our expense report. The audit was something that I had never seen done in an election before and was a proactive and thorough way for the election commission to address the concerns of other candidates. In a meeting that lasted more than an hour and a half, the election commission went through a laundry list of allegations and picked our expense report apart, point by point.
When John and I walked into the meeting, our expenses totaled $95.95. This amount included an earlier violation assessed by the election commission after they ruled that buttons used in our campaign should have been accounted for in our expense report. The buttons were acquired from the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters' Alliance (BGLTSA) Resource Center. John understood that the buttons were a "freely available resource," a free resource available to any student who requested them. Michael A. Hill '02, a BGLTSA co-chair, knew that we had some buttons, but was unaware of how many. Hill was the only BGLTSA board member contacted, and a misunderstanding ensued when other board members were informed after the buttons had already been used. BGLTSA co-chair Michael K.T. Tan '00 would have preferred for John to notify the entire board. The misunderstanding has been clarified with both co-chairs Tan and Hill, and the buttons have been returned to the BGLTSA.
During the meeting, we were also questioned about lemonade that we passed out while campaigning earlier that day. We explained that lemonade mix was acquired from Quincy House (not Mather) dining hall and that any candidate could get mix and water for free. However, the cost of the lemonade mix was added before submitting our final expense report. The commission then decided that everything was accounted for and that we had not overspent, as our total expenses amounted to $97.95.
Election rules plainly state that permission from proper authorities is required for campaign practices such as mail drops. We went to the manager of the Harvard Yard Mail Center (HYMC) and inquired about the procedure for distributing mass flyers. We were assured that we did not need to take any further steps or to request any other permission for the fliers to be put in mailboxes. Other candidates raised questions after first years received letters from us in their mail. We then contacted Dean of Freshmen Elizabeth Studley Nathans, via e-mail. We detailed our campaign practices to Nathans, explaining that we had spoken with the head of the HYMC about the proper procedure for mail drops. Nathans remained neutral on the matter. Nathans said that she would not speak personally with anyone who contacted her over the matter and that she would speak to the Harvard Yard Mail Center staff.
In summary, the Driskell-Burton campaign never overspent, everything was accounted for in our expense reports, and we remained within the rules of the election at all times.