Home Campus Here’s how Student Senate candidates raise and spend their campaign dollars

Here’s how Student Senate candidates raise and spend their campaign dollars

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Student Senate tickets have their budgets regulated every step of the way, from flyers to tabling snacks. This is how Forward Ohio collected and used their budget this year.

As the race for Student Senate draws to a close, so does the financial record for this year’s race.

But records of campaign donations and expenditures show more than a bottom line — they may also highlight difficult budget restrictions for hopeful candidates.

According to campaign financial records shared with The New Political by Forward Ohio, the only ticket on 2019-20 ballot, the candidates raised around $940 in donations and contributions.

They spent around $630 on materials such as t-shirts, advertising campaigns, and materials. They also purchased cookies, coffee, and a megaphone and batteries to use during the campaign process.

Like other student organization spending and funding, the process of raising money for a Student Senate campaign is regulated by the Senate Judicial panel, who regulates the elections.

According to Walter Milhoan, Chief Justice of the Student Senate Judicial Panel, all Student Senate campaign funds are based on donations and collected by the candidates themselves. Usually, these funds come from family and friends; registered student organizations are also able to donate.

There are also many restrictions on how much money candidates can raise and how they can spend their funds. According to the Ohio University Student Senate Election Handbook, the limit on donations is $50 per donor per entire election cycle, but in-kind donations — items or services rather than monetary donations — are also accepted with a limit of a $100 value.

Lydia Ramlo, the presidential candidate for the Forward Ohio ticket, also stated that candidates are able to donate to their own campaigns, but these donations cannot exceed $150.

Once individual candidates or tickets receive donations, Milhoan stated that they must deposit the money they receive to the Campus Involvement Center’s (CIC) account in Chubb Hall. They then take their receipt to the CIC, located in Baker Center.

From there, should campaigns want to purchase anything, they would have to file a disbursement voucher. Overall, the Election Handbook states that tickets cannot spend more than $1,000 over the course of their campaign, and independent candidates are limited to $150 in spending.

While this process is similar to the approval process for purchases made by many other student organizations, Ramlo admitted this process can become prohibitive for those running for office. Particularly, she believes these regulations may have something to do with the steady decline in tickets running for Senate.

Honestly, I think this financial burden is one reason why people are not running,” Ramlo said. “In my personal experience of campaigning twice now, the funding aspect has definitely taken a toll on me and was a factor in my decision to run.”

Milhoan, who receives submitted campaign financial reports, said that these steps for approval are in place for a reason. Namely, they are meant to ensure that spending is being documented and that campaign guidelines are being followed correctly.

Additionally, Milhoan believes that having candidates follow so many rules during the campaign process ultimately results in greater integrity for the entire Student Senate.

“Like with many things in life, bureaucracy seems tedious and unnecessary, but in the end it is useful to ensure that proper processes are being followed,” Milhoan said. “I believe that this system helps to hold the candidates accountable in their spending and responsible for following the procedures in place so that one does not have an advantage over another.”

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