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Campaign violation leads to sanctions

By David J. Cieslak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 12, 1999
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The lone ASUA administrative vice-presidential candidate, Viviane Safrin, yesterday admitted to violating the organization's campaigning laws.

Safrin still has a clear path to the office after her sole opponent, political science sophomore Kelly Dalton, dropped out of the race yesterday for personal reasons.

Safrin was fined and will be prohibited from posting banner advertisements for distributing letters requesting endorsements a week and a half prior to the start of legal election campaigning.

Associated Students Elections Commissioner Anthony Hill last night unveiled a taped interview that he conducted with Administrative Vice President Ryan Rosensteel, along with previously-sealed records pertaining to the situation.

The Arizona Daily Wildcat obtained the information after serving Hill with an Arizona Public Records Request.

During the interview, Rosensteel confessed to aiding Safrin in her campaign and admitted he advised her to send the letters. Rosensteel is not a candidate in this year's race.

"It wasn't something that was done maliciously," Rosensteel said during the taped interview. "I've been here two years and she probably just took it for granted that I told her (that it was okay)."

Rosensteel could not be reached for further comment last night.

Dalton said her decision to quit was unrelated to Safrin's campaign violations, instead citing time constraints.

"At this time, I have a lot of other things going on," she said. "I think the political aspects of campaigning really hit me."

Dalton said her involvement with Rosensteel was minimal during her candidacy.

"He didn't do anything wrong with me whatsoever," she said. "He said he was not going to take sides."

Before learning of Dalton's departure, Safrin said yesterday during an interview with the Wildcat that Dalton should stay in the race.

She said Dalton has a marked advantage since the sanctions include a loss of privileges to post banners.

"My not hanging banners is a huge advantage for her," Safrin said. "I've given her no reason to drop out of the election."

During his taped interview with Hill, Rosensteel took responsibility for the code violation, adding he thought of Safrin as a "little sister."

"I think that what I did was worse than what she did because I forgot about the rule," Rosensteel said, adding that he did not want to see Safrin disqualified from the race.

"I would lose so much faith in the election process if somebody like this was kicked out," he said.

Rosensteel had admitted last semester that he violated the election code during his 1998 campaign and ASUA officials announced this week that Rosensteel escaped a recall drive for the transgressions.

Economics sophomore Travis Klein attempted to have Rosensteel removed for violating the election code and having what he called a "worthless" position.

But the petition effort fell short, and Rosensteel was not disciplined for the infraction.

Hill said Safrin, however, will be sanctioned, adding that he cannot punish Rosensteel for his involvement with Safrin's campaign.

"He (Rosensteel) gave his approval before the letters were sent out," Hill said.

Under the records request, Hill also was asked to release the letter that Safrin sent to multiple UA fraternities, sororities and residence halls.

"Your support would be greatly appreciated," she wrote in her form letters. "Please call me to indicate whether your members would like to support my campaign."

Also included in the letters was a plea for the readers to allow Safrin to hang her banners on their buildings.

"I am hoping that you will help in my campaign by hanging a banner on the front of your house endorsing my candidacy," she wrote.

Hill said he discovered the letters when unidentified students sent the documents to his office. He began investigating the violation and later interviewed Safrin and Rosensteel.

Hill last night also released his memorandum that advised Safrin of her punishment.

"Clearly, your campaign letters violate the Logistical Campaign rule by contacting greek houses and residence halls before the prescribed date," Hill wrote. "Your explanation that these letters were simply sent out of ignorance, and were a gross misunderstanding, is not a viable excuse in the opinion of the Elections Commissioner."

With both the executive vice president and administrative vice president races now down to one candidate each, Hill condemned the attitude of students at the University of Arizona.

"We're back to where we were before," he said. "The apathy and the patheticness of this whole race is really wearing on all of us - especially myself."