Student government senators disqualified for election infractions

Two SGA senators have been disqualified from office just days before being sworn in. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

Elise Catrion Gregg | Investigations Director

Two student government senators were disqualified from their positions yesterday after the judicial branch found them guilty of falsifying information to the elections board.

Daniel Salup-Cid, incumbent senator for the College of Arts, Science, Education, and Kassandra Toussaint, incoming upper division senator, knowingly provided false information to the elections board on Feb. 26 about their campaign materials. 

The judicial branch finalized two separate opinions for each senator, both facing writs filed by Attorney General Zachary Stangl, who is also chair of the Gold and Blue party. 

For Salup-Cid, Stangl alleged that he lied during the Feb. 26 meeting about fliers posted for candidates from Young Democratic Socialists of America at FIU that violated SGA campaign rules. During that meeting, Salup-Cid said he hadn’t seen the fliers posted on the pillars by the Green Library before. 

Judicial minutes reveal that screenshots of the YDSA Discord obtained by Stangl showed Salup-Cid’s statements to be false. 

PantherNOW reached out to Stangl via Instagram for comment and the evidence used during the proceedings, but did not receive a response before publication.

“The screenshots showed a photo of the flyers in question clearly posted on a pillar,” the minutes read. “An additional screenshot from the same group chat showed a list of people who reacted to the photo with a fire emoji.”

“On this list was Daniel Salup-Cid’s screenname ‘senator dannyboy’. The photo was sent to this group chat on February 13th, 2024.” 

Similarly, Stangl accused Toussaint of lying about campaign materials, though for a separate incident. 

During that same Feb. 26 meeting, the elections board reviewed an arts and crafts event held by YDSA-FIU on Feb. 13. 

The event was held at University Towers and the elections code states that students can’t campaign within 100 feet of housing. 

Toussaint said it wasn’t for campaigning purposes – however, their Instagram post seems to indicate otherwise. 

“Attorney General Stangl contests such claims and references the official FIU YDSA Instagram where a post was made that advertises the arts and crafts event as an opportunity “to ‘join us for a fun time making tabling displays and SGA campaign materials, or just let your creativity flow!’” 

Judicial minutes also note that Stangl cited Toussaint’s personal Instagram account, which “shows her knowing the intention of the event itself and lying to the Election’s [sic] Board.” 

Additionally, Stangl provided pictures to the justices showing “printed headshots of three candidates running under the YDSA slate…allegedly taken during the Arts and Crafts event hosted by the YDSA.” 

His argument was that since the headshots were visible, candidates lied about what the event was really about. 

The Feb. 26 hearing resulted in a tier three violation for candidates, meaning they couldn’t campaign for 72 hours. 

The May 1 judicial opinion means they’re out. 

In both cases, justices unanimously decided that Stangl argued his case successfully, disqualifying Toussaint and Salup-Cid. 

“The verdict that was delivered on Wednesday morning is a severe lapse in judgement [sic] from the court. I still maintain my innocence against the charges brought forth by Attorney General Zachary Stangl,” Salup-Cid told PantherNOW via text. “I am disappointed in the Justices of the Supreme Court for playing right into the College Republican’s underhanded tactics by overturning the election and removing two of the most popularly voted candidates in their respective constituencies.”

“To anyone who our campaign resonated with: do not let yourselves be demoralized by these developments. Our movement extends beyond the confines of student government.”

The opinion specifically noted that they were disqualified, not removed. 

That’s where it gets tricky because Stangl originally filed his writs based on malfeasance. But, they haven’t been sworn in yet – that doesn’t happen until May 6. 

Since they’re not in office yet, the court decided that the standard of malfeasance couldn’t apply. 

Instead, “the Court holds that a Tier One Violation would have occurred if the Elections Board had the same evidence the Court does now [which] thus calls for the disqualification” of both candidates. 

So, Toussaint and Salup-Cid are out, based on the court’s reasoning that they would have been out months ago if the board knew what justices know today. 

“Im [sic] pretty disappointed. I worked incredibly hard on my campaign,” Toussaint told PantherNOW via text. ” YDSA worked incredibly hard to support me but mistakes were made.”

She thought the tier three violations were enough, but wrote that she thought the court was setting a bad precedent.

“It’s very clear that to the college republicans at FIU if your [sic] on there [sic] hit list they’ll do anything in there [sic] power to get rid of you,” she wrote. “I said it at the hearing and I’m saying it now the relentless stalking from the college republicans has been very difficult to adjust to.”

It may not be over yet, though.

When PantherNOW asked outgoing SGA president Alexander Sutton for comment, he left reporters with a brief yet cryptic message.

“Sit tight,” he said over the phone. “There may be more updates.”

“An appeal is a possibility.”

1 Comment on "Student government senators disqualified for election infractions"

  1. Does this constitute a re-election, replacement, or vacancy for the senator positions? It’s a bad look when you investigate this invasive to prove people were campaigning a few days before. If you look deep enough you can find any little error with anyone.

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