Elections Commissioner Says Debate Questions On Turning Point, Skull & Bones Were Concerns Expressed By Other UPUA Candidates
Monday night’s UPUA Grand Debate was riddled with controversial questions from both the Elections Commission and attendees who packed the room in 233 HUB.
Elections Commissioner Eric Love prefaced the debate with a disclaimer that both tickets — Katie Jordan with running mate Alex Shockley and Sammy Geisinger with running mate Jorge Zurita-Coronado — agreed to answer the tough questions. This was no joke.
Perhaps the most controversial questions came from the Elections Commission, which asked the questions for the first half of the debate. While it wasn’t clear during the debate itself, Love said the Elections Commission formed the questions for the first half of this year’s Grand Debate.
“The Commission came up with the questions amongst ourselves and we decided to focus on the platforms the candidates had put out,” Love said. “We drew the questions mostly from there and then the other questions were based on their experience, things that they’ve done in UPUA, and then some issues that the two campaigns have brought to us about the other campaign.”
Love clarified concerns about financial support from organizations like Turning Point USA and Skull & Bones were not necessarily brought up by the opposing candidates, but rather by candidates running in the UPUA election as a whole.
“The election code doesn’t allow us to track where people are getting the actual money they’re spending from,” Love said. Candidates are required to submit financial documents periodically, but these only include items they are spending money on in their respective campaigns.
It’s reasonable to assume the candidates purchase these campaign items out of pocket, but there’s no aspect of the Elections Code mandating candidates not accept potential funding from outside sources. However, UPUA does enforce campaign spending caps for all those running for office. Executive tickets can spend up to $600 on campaign materials, while representative candidates can only spend up to $100.
The Geisinger/Zurita-Coronado ticket faced questions about support from Turning Point USA, but Geisinger quickly confirmed the ticket has not accepted any type of outside funding.
“When we were offered financial support by [Turning Point], we immediately declined the offer on the grounds that we could not ethically justify financial support from any organization,” Geisinger said via email after the debate. “All of our resources and materials were purchased through our own funds provided by ourselves.”
Immediately following, the Commission asked the Jordan/Shockley ticket about supposed campaign involvement from “senior society” Skull & Bones.
“I cannot answer that question,” Jordan responded. “That is extremely inappropriate.”
The Jordan/Shockley ticket declined to comment after the debate on any matters relating to Skull & Bones.
“I think the questions we asked were fair,” Love said. “In hindsight, it might have been better to…have more questions that were asked to both candidates.”
Love reiterated he is very impressed with this year’s candidates and both executive tickets have been “playing safe” and running clean campaigns. You can vote in this year’s UPUA election on March 29 at vote.psu.edu.