Official admits leaking results

Zearley-pierce campaign accused of receiving early vote counts

Jens Krogstad

All-Campus Elections Commissioner Dan Nelson admitted Monday to leaking results before the Minnesota Student Association presidential election ended.

Former candidates have also accused Jeff Nath, all-campus elections co-commissioner, of leaking results and several have said MSA President-elect Tom Zearley’s campaign received preliminary results.

Former presidential candidate Bob Gindorff said Nelson told him what his place was and approximately how many votes he had April 14 – the first day of the election.

Though two students have accused Nelson of also giving results to other candidates, Nelson said he did not.

Nath denies leaking exact results but said that he did say the race was close.

A complaint filed by former presidential candidate Thomas Rupp and running mate Betsy Raguse alleges that MSA vice president-elect Amy Jo Pierce left a voicemail message for Rupp saying she got results from Nath.

But Pierce said she does not remember making such a phone call.

Though Zearley-Pierce campaign manager Aaron Solem denied last week receiving real election results, he admitted to fabricating election results to pump up his campaign.

But MSA Speaker Marty Andrade said he is certain the Zearley-Pierce campaign received leaked election results.

“I’m convinced from their psychic ability to predict all seven presidential campaign positions and margin of lead (before elections closed),” he said.

Rupp said he phoned Student Activities Office adviser Penh Lo after receiving the voicemail from Pierce. He said Lo told him he would look into the problem.

Nath and MSA President Eric Dyer said allegations of election leaks concerned Lo enough to change the password to access results Thursday morning of the election.

But last week, Lo denied making the change.

Nath, outgoing MSA vice president and Nelson, an MSA committee chairman, hold two of the four elections commission seats.

Most of the MSA executive board publicly backed Zearley-Pierce.

Two complaints filed with the election commission claim the Zearley-Pierce team was allowed to openly campaign in MSA’s office, something former candidates claim gave Zearley-Pierce an unfair advantage.

The election commission decided to fine the Zearley-Pierce campaign $50 for fabricating voting results, though it said last week that doing so was not against its rules.

In an e-mail sent to Zearley, the commission said the fabrication was detrimental to an election commissioner and the commission as a whole.

Zearley said his campaign is considering appealing the fine.