Su/Smith ticket receives 24-hour suspension for $24 excess campaign expenditures

Su and Smith are not allowed to resume campaigning until today at 3 p.m. CDT.


Anseley Philippe

The Leadership and Service House, as photographed on Feb. 28, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Anseley Philippe)

Brina Ratangee, Deputy News Editor

UPDATED: This article was updated on March 27 to include Su and Smith’s second violation, which prolongs their suspension until March 27 at 6 p.m. CDT. 

Junior Macy Su and sophomore Lonnie Smith, candidates for VSG president and vice president, respectively, received a 24-hour campaign suspension for exceeding the maximum $500 campaign budget allotted to candidates. The suspension will end on March 27 at 3 p.m. CDT, and voting begins on March 27 at 8 a.m. CDT. 

The 2023 Nonpartisan Candidate Database includes screenshots of the budget provided to the Elections Commission by Su and Smith. The initial budget screenshot shows an expected total cost of $498.24, but the third and final screenshot depicts a total cost of $524.33. The $24.33 extra expenditure constitutes a campaign violation according to the 2023 Presidential Election Rules Packet.

“All tickets are capped at spending $500 during the campaign. Any spending above the cap will result in a violation,” the packet reads.

Smith told The Hustler that the budget error was the result of a miscalculation. Once he and Su realized their error, he said they chose not to utilize a set of posters they had designed and purchased to avoid giving themselves an unfair advantage over the other candidates. 

“We have spent over the allotted amount; however, it has not given us any advantage over any other ticket or anything of the such because everything we have publicized to the student body has been within the guidelines,” Smith said.

As part of the suspension, Su and Smith are not allowed to host campaign events, including the free coffee event they had scheduled for March 26 from 6-8 p.m. CDT. The graphic they posted on their Instagram story has since been removed. In addition, their Instagram account has been set to private.

Smith also expressed hope that the error will not reflect poorly on his and Su’s campaign.

“It was simply a miscalculation that we immediately acted on. We do recognize the matter to its fullest extent, and it is still our full intention to ‘SERVE’ the students in the remainder of this election,” Smith said.

According to the database, all candidates were required to submit a preliminary budget to the Elections Commission by March 20 at 8 a.m. CDT. Alterations are allowed as long as candidates report changes to the Elections Commission within 24 hours. Final budgets are required to be submitted within one week of March 29, the last day of voting.

Candidates’ campaigns will be reimbursed by VSG through the Elections Commissions budget up to the $500 spending cap according to the database. When initially explaining their platform, Su and Smith told The Hustler that one of their goals is to reduce internal spending within VSG and invest more in other student organizations.   

Junior Sam Sliman, another presidential candidate, said that he does not view Su and Smith’s exceeding of the spending cap as a significant issue.

“I think that it [the overspending] doesn’t really matter — it was obviously a very minor issue, and I’m glad the Elections Commission wasn’t too harsh on them,” Sliman said.

VSG Elections Commission Chair Matthew Sohn, a senior, and juniors Ari Sasson and Shreya Gupta, presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively, did not immediately respond to The Hustler’s request for comment on the violation.

According to the database, Su and Smith received a second 3-hour suspension, which will end at 6 p.m. CDT on March 27, for “violating requirements of their previous suspension.” The second violation was given due to Su’s resharing via her personal Instagram story of a Women in Government Instagram post that introduced Su — WiG’s president — and her platform.