Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, February 25, 2018

SG presidential candidate Will Mascaro accused of ethical violations

Mascaro’s campaign was briefly suspended after allegations of pressuring other SG candidates to drop out of their races

SG presidential candidate Will Mascaro accused of ethical violations

Student Government presidential candidate and sophomore Will Mascaro’s campaign was temporarily suspended this past weekend after a series of complaints were filed with the SG Judicial Board, accusing Mascaro of pressuring other candidates to opt out of their races.

Jake Kern, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, filed the first complaint, claiming that Mascaro tried to keep other candidates out of the election, specifically sophomore presidential candidates Devontae Torriente and Matthew Mullin.

According to Kern, Torriente and Mullin are mutual friends of his, and he filed the complaint with the Judicial Board after Mullin expressed concern to him over some of Mascaro’s actions.

The Judicial Board suspended Mascaro’s campaign on Friday evening due to an alleged violation of the SG elections handbook. One of the election rules prohibits candidates from campaigning in an “intimidating, hostile, or coercive fashion which is intentional or persistent.”

“[Mascaro] feels like he has a right to this position and he’s been trying to edge people out who are going for the position,” Kern said. “He should be trying to get more people to run for SG positions, not trying to edge people out.”

In addition to the allegations raised by Kern, Alexandra Mosenson, a candidate for the comptroller position, has also made similar allegations against Mascaro.

According to all three candidates, Mascaro urged each of them at different times to abandon their respective campaigns. He also offered Mosenson and Mullin positions in his administration should he be elected president in exchange for them dropping out of their own races, according to both Mosenson and Mullin.

Although the three candidates experienced similar interactions with Mascaro on separate occasions, they only recently came forward after recognizing these interactions were a trend across each of their campaigns, according to Mullin’s campaign manager Tom Lynch.

“It was once other campaigns came forward to us, highlighting their concerns, that we realized that this was something that was sweeping throughout the entire election,” Lynch said.

Complaints from Matt Mullin’s campaign

Kern filed his complaint with the Judicial Board on March 18 after being approached by Mullin, who told Kern that Mascaro asked him to drop out of the race on March 4. According to Mullin, Mascaro expressed concerns that he and Mullin would “split the Greek vote,” which would secure the election for Torriente.

“Mr. Mascaro stated that [if] should I drop out, Mr. Mascaro would award me with any position within Student Government that I choose,” Mullin said in his official statement to the prosecutor.

Lynch attended part of this meeting and confirmed it took place, saying he joined them when they met in the Tavern.

Mascaro also acknowledged that this meeting happened, but denied any accusations of trying to convince Mullin from dropping out.

“I wanted to ask him [Mullin] if he was running for real because we were bumping up into similar supporters,” Mascaro said. “So when he told me that he was, that’s basically where the conversation ended.”

A series of text messages also took place between Shannon McDermott, Mascaro’s former campaign manager and a current candidate for comptroller, and Michael McCue, a member of Mullin’s campaign staff, in which McDermott expressed concern about Mullin running against Mascaro.

“The issue with this is Matt would definitely split a lot of the vote with Will in Greek life and then there is a strong possibility Devontae will win,” McDermott said in the messages. “I am just letting you know that this might not be the race for [Matt] to run in [because] as someone with super little experience in SG it’s not going to be a fun experience.”

In her statement to SG prosecutor Naomi Zeigler, McDermott said she was only trying to give advice to Mullin, not trying to influence his decision to run in any way.

“I know [McCue] really well and when Matt was in the [presidential information session] he didn’t seem all that serious about running,” McDermott said in her statement to the prosecutor. “I just wanted to offer some advice as someone who has seen how hard an election can be, especially if that candidate is not serious about running.”

Complaints from Devontae Torriente’s campaign

On Feb. 1, Mascaro and McDermott met with Torriente and his campaign manager, Joshua Gutmaker. At the time, Torriente told Mascaro that he had decided to abandon his potential campaign for vice president and instead run for president.

Both Mascaro and Torriente confirmed that they met again during the first week of March. In a statement to Zeigler, Torriente explained that he felt pressure from Mascaro to end his campaign.

“I was uncomfortable with him repeatedly asking me not to run, and I was offended when he continued to try to coerce me into not running against him by instead offering me positions under him,” Torriente said in his statement.

Mascaro said he interpreted the Feb. 1 conversation differently. He said he tried to be extremely sensitive as to not exert an intimidating tone towards Torriente.

“I painstakingly worried and feared that that conversation would seem threatening or discouraging to him,” Mascaro said. “Because he’s a friend of mine… I really didn’t want to make it seem like it would be threatening.”

Complaints from Alexandra Mosenson’s campaign

Mosenson claimed that Mascaro asked her to drop out after McDermott decided to enter the comptroller race the week before the elections process began (the week of March 7).

In her statement to the SG prosecutor, Mosenson included a series of texts and conversations between herself and Mascaro as evidence.

“Will offered me a seat on his cabinet as the Chief of Staff or as a financial director in an office he plans to create,” Mosenson said in her statement. “He specifically said that if I dropped out, I could have either of those positions (although I have no evidence of our dialogue). In addition he says ‘... you should both [Shannon McDermott and Alexandra Mosenson] be on SG leadership somewhere’ and ‘one way or another, we need to get you in that office.’”

According to Mosenson, Mascaro made the same offer to McDermott, but she turned it down to launch her campaign for comptroller. McDermott declined to comment when asked if this offer took place between her and Mascaro.

In the messages, Mosenson specifically says: “You should offer Shannon what you offered me, [because] no matter who is elected president, you and I both know I’m still best for comptroller.”

Mascaro said Mosenson was the one that reached out to him for advice, and acknowledged that McDermott would be a good competitor and had potential to win. He denies offering Mosenson any potential positions or telling her not to run.

“I never ever, and you’ll see that in the evidence, suggest that [Mosenson] should not run or did I ask that she don’t run, did I offer her a position, a title, anything, or did I threaten or harass her to run,” Mascaro said.

Next Steps

As of early Sunday afternoon, Mascaro’s campaign has been reinstated. A Judicial Board trial is still scheduled for Monday night.

According to Zeigler, the consequences will be determined after a formal hearing by the Judicial Board, led by Eric Heigis.

“Because this is an ethical violation, the punishment will probably be more severe,” Zeigler said. “In this case it will probably be something like suspension or possible expulsion from the election.”

ikaplan@theeagleonline.com

crozen@theeagleonline.com


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