Adewumi Convicted of Four Campaign Violations
P.T. Barnum once famously said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but David Adewumi, along with his running mate Sri Pisupati, seems destined to contest that theory.
Though the UPUA election season only began 9 days ago, Adewumi has found himself time and time again thrust into the limelight, and, more often than not, it hasn’t been positive press. Before the campaigning even began, Adewumi was ruled ineligible. At Monday’s debate, he and Pisupati were conspicuous in their absence, and yesterday the two were convicted of four campaign violations that will set them back more than $200 of the allotted $600 for presidential campaigns.
The four violations were all, in some way, related to early campaigning before the official start of election season. Prior to the March 14th at 7:00 A.M. kickoff, the duo created a Facebook event for the ONEPSU initiative and Adewumi tweeted that he and Pisupati would be running for UPUA’s highest spots. Adewumi was also found guilty of emailing the members of InnoBlue–another of his projects–to explain his rationale behind the campaign, and he was convicted of emailing the heads of 800 student groups to explain ONEPSU, perhaps in violation of Penn State policy in addition to UPUA bylaws.
Although the Board of Arbitration voted Adewumi and Pisupati guilty on all charges by a unanimous, 9-0 margin, there was spirited contention during the 40-minute hearing. Adewumi fought the charges, complaining that “there’s been a lot of confusion,” and that he’d received mixed messages from Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Enforcement Tim Dooley.
Adewumi cited an email sent from Dooley which stated that “no one is a candidate until 7 A.M. Monday,” and considering that he’d already been ruled ineligible, Adewumi argued that someone who wasn’t a candidate couldn’t commit campaign violations. “You can’t campaign for an office you’re not eligible for,” he said. Adewumi also claimed that the UPUA made public his seeking of the presidency when they spoke with the media to declare his ineligibility.
But in the most reciprocal debate, Adewumi also asserted that ONEPSU was separate from his presidential campaign, stating that it was “really just a set of ideas.” Ryan Thomas, a member of the board, pressed him further, asking him to delineate the two, and Adewumi replied by answering that the ONEPSU initiative wasn’t quite concentric with his campaign, though he admitted that it was a significant part. In the end, a distinction wasn’t clearly made before the board moved on to another line of questioning.
Dooley challenged that assertion from the beginning. “Just because something is given a catchy name doesn’t mean it is separate from campaigning,” he said. Dooley proceeded to cite ONEPSU’s Facebook page, which listed it as an event running until March 30th at 10 P.M., and gave ONEPSU’s location as vote.psu.edu, which matched precisely with when voting ceases in the UPUA election and the destination to vote. Thus, according to Dooley, ONEPSU is “clearly linked to the Adewumi campaign,” even if it doesn’t outwardly say so.
In what seemed to be the most serious charge, Adewumi and Pisupati sent a form letter to the heads of student groups on campus–at about 11 P.M. on March 13th–explaining their roles in the ONEPSU initiative, something that the Board of Arbitration evidently took to be a form of campaigning. But Dooley also argued that Adewumi had found a way to accumulate the email addresses of leaders as listed on clubs.psu.edu, which violated school policy, since that domain is only supposed to be used for business related to group membership or activities.
Adewumi and Pisupati were forced to defend themselves at Tuesday night’s hearing, after UPUA ruled that law student Kai Kaapro, who was general counsel for the pair at their eligibility hearing last week, could not represent the campaign because he was not an undergraduate student. Though the Adewumi campaign was only made aware of that decision earlier in the day, neither Adewumi nor Pisupati felt that it made a difference in the result.
“The defense was the same regardless of whether I or Kai said it,” Adewumi said.
Nor did the two seem particularly discouraged by the results. Adewumi said that they were operating under the assumption that they would lose their case so as not to be disqualified for going over the spending limits, and that the loss in the number of t-shirts they could order wouldn’t mean a loss in the election. But Adewumi was eager to distance his campaign from the bad press they’ve received over the past couple weeks.
“Hopefully during the next week, we’ll be able to talk more about the issues and the candidates,” he said.