‘Pearleygate’ is bad news for MSA

Either the president-elect is incompetent or suffers from ethical ineptitude.

According to complaints filed by former Minnesota Student Association presidential candidates, MSA president and vice president-elect Tom Zearley and Amy Jo Pierce received midelection voting results and used them to try to influence the campaign results. We’re dubbing it “Pearleygate” and it already highlights serious problems in the Zearley-Pierce presidency. The very existence of Pearleygate, like former President Richard Nixon’s Watergate, suggests that either the president-elect is incompetent for his inability to control

members of his staff or he suffers from a severe case of ethical ineptitude.

In either case, it does not bode well for MSA, which has a documented history of infighting and internal bickering. It has only recently restored order with the Eric Dyer presidency and gotten back on track to accomplish things in the future. If Zearley cannot control members of his campaign staff, how likely is it that he can play arbitrator in heated MSA functions?

If Pearleygate is the result of deliberate dirty campaigning, it will only reinforce the University students’ general attitude that MSA does serve students but resume-building and self-interested ne’er-do-wells. MSA has had a difficult time building its prestige in the eyes of students, and Pearleygate will only serve to further undermine those efforts.

Pearleygate also highlights the conspicuously flaky MSA campaign rules. There is no mention of campaign-specific ethical conduct in the laws. The MSA campaign laws must be changed to address nefarious campaign tactics. Distributing false information or obtaining early election results should clearly be illegal under the rules. MSA must eliminate these loopholes.

As for Zearley, who has said he would not authorize using midelection results for campaigning, he is either incompetent or ethically inept. Zearley must work quickly and in good faith to repair the damage already done to his presidency; that’s if further investigation doesn’t reveal the need to invalidate the election results altogether.