The Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) commission tasked with investigating the Wolfe-Ume administration’s alleged campaign violations recommended against impeachment in a Feb. 27 meeting.
After hours of deliberation in a Feb. 13 meeting, the GUSA Election Commission (EC) recommended against certifying the election results that declared Kole Wolfe (SFS ’24) and Zeke Ume-Ukeje (COL ’24) to be the next GUSA executive president and vice president, citing allegations that the Wolfe-Ume campaign bribed students for their votes in exchange for alcohol. The Election Commission issued a formal warning to the campaign and cut the then-candidates’ speaking time at the town halls as a result of their alleged rule violations. Despite the allegations, the GUSA Senate certified the election results.
[Full Disclosure: Wolfe is a former Hoya staffer.]
The investigative commission spent two weeks examining the allegations before ultimately deciding against impeachment as a result of a lack of clear evidence.
Dominic Gordon (SFS ’24), chair of the GUSA Ethics and Oversight Committee, said that the investigative commission took the inquiry seriously but could not definitively confirm the allegations.
“We tried our very best to look at all angles,” Gordon wrote. “I personally spent 20-30 hours on it. We just couldn’t find anything conclusive one way or another.”
Wolfe said he was pleased with the outcome of the investigative commission’s efforts and is excited to work toward the goals that Wolfe and Ume-Ukeje campaign promised during the campaign.
“It would have been unfortunate if the results of a valid election were nullified due to baseless allegations submitted by our direct competitors,” Wolfe wrote. “While we regret the way in which some of our supporters expressed enthusiasm towards our campaign, we would like to once again reiterate that we were not personally responsible for or affiliated with their actions. We are looking forward to serving the student body to the best of our abilities.”
According to their report, the investigative commission focused on two allegations: an incident at a club in Dupont Circle and the alleged tampering with the election results through bribing.
The Election Commission accused Wolfe and Ume-Ukeje of placing a bottle of alcohol in front of their campaign sign that cost over 300 dollars at a nightclub, which violates the alcohol and campaign finance rules for GUSA elections.
Regarding the alcohol and finance allegations, the investigative commission found that the Election Commision appropriately handled the claims.
“Further inquiry into this incident has proved inconclusive, as no witnesses have publicly come forward to provide evidence,” the report reads. “Though we received anonymous reports that presented some concern, we lacked complete verification of their claims.”
The investigative commission specifically focused on whether the events at the club were in any way endorsed by or connected to the Wolfe-Ume campaign, Gordon said.
“The questions are specifically about what constitutes a campaign staffer and how much the allegations can be tied directly to the campaign,” Gordon wrote.
The second concern, regarding bribing students with alcohol in exchange for votes, also could not be confirmed.
“The allegations were of the utmost gravity and the fact that they were presented to the Senate without any substantive evidence, apart from anonymous emails and the claims of an opposing campaign, we determined did not merit additional punishment without substance,” the report reads.
The investigative commission stated that the Election Commission’s action to not recommend the certification of the election results was inconsistent with GUSA bylaws, according to the report.
However, the commission’s inconclusive finding does not entirely exonerate the Wolfe-Ume campaign’s actions following the election, including instances of harmful rhetoric, according to GUSA Senate Speaker Leo Rassieur (COL ’23).
“As someone who had to preside over the Senate during the confirmation of the election results, I felt really frustrated with their behavior or their inaction in bringing in so many people and then allowing them to just say offensive things that are really targeted towards minority groups on campus,” Rassieur said in an interview with The Hoya. “Things like ‘Lock him up’ and ‘This is why the libs are so bad,’ are really targeted politically but also much along racial lines and class lines.”
Moving forward, Gordon said that GUSA needs to clarify their guidelines regarding campaign rules and bylaws.
“They need to have a clearer definition of campaign finance rules in the future, because the issue is that it’s really hard to define where exactly a violation occurs,” Gordon wrote. “There needs to be stricter guidelines on it, which would make this clearer where this would fall.”