A mere week before voting began, USG presidential candidates Matt Miller ’19 and Rachel Yee ’19 discovered an alarming solicitation tactic used against their campaigns.
On Monday, Dec. 4, Miller was informed that the website, , existed, although it was not a part of his campaign. Upon searching this link, the user was redirected to , a blank page that belonged to Ryan Ozminkowski ’19, another USG presidential candidate. Less than 24 hours after the 'Prince' began looking into the matter, the former link now redirects to https://www.matt4usg.com/.
“It’s a dirty trick for what should be an above-board and fair election on what we do for USG,” Miller wrote in a text, adding that “if he bought all these domains, he’s close to, if not over, his campaign budget.”
“My first thought was, if I was just a general voter, that’s pretty clever,” said Yee. “Maybe not in the best spirits of the campaign, as I don’t necessarily think that that’s using the best judgement. It’s certainly not something that I would do.” Yee also noted that the redirection was “very reminiscent of what a Trump voter had done to Jeb Bush’s website in the primaries.”
In response to the other candidates’ negative reactions to his campaigning, Ozminkowski sent The Daily Princetonian an official statement from his campaign.
“We first of all apologize to all those who felt teased by our utilization of domain name redirection in our campaigning,” the statement reads. “We anticipated the act would be in good spirit, a[n] homage to national politics, and a means to get students not typically involved in USG interested in the election cycle. A lot of individuals on campus responded very positively and recognized the jovial nature of the action. Obviously the act was misinterpreted by some and not taken in the spirit by which it was intended.”
According to the , each candidate is allotted a “campaign expenditure allowance of $50.00.” It is currently unclear whether Ozminkowski exceeded his budget or if the solicitation of the domain violates any section of the handbook.
“Truthfully, I think that it is very vague,” said Yee about the handbook. “It really comes down to the Election Manager’s jurisdiction. There’s no precedence for this in past USG records.”
Laura Hausman ’20, the USG Election Manager, did not respond to the request for comment.
Ozminkowski’s statement also addressed the campaign’s decision to relinquish the domains. He confirmed that his campaign’s director of technology “will be transferring the domain names to the respective candidates tonight.” As a final note, his statement emphasized that “the Ozminkowski campaign strives to endorse campus ideals and hopes to infuse fun into this election cycle.”
Both Miller and Yee expressed concerns that this would detract from the actual content of the candidates’ platforms.
“I’m disappointed in the fact that Ryan or someone in his campaign would use an underhanded trick in this election,” said Miller. “This election is about how we can make Princeton a better place, and despite this, I’ll continue to campaign on the issues and my platform.”
“Personally, I think that it’s up to the voters to decide what to make of this,” said Yee. “The information shouldn’t be kept in the dark. But let’s not get bogged down on the details about things that are distracting. Let’s really focus on the issues.”
Miller, Ozminkowski, and Yee are the three presidential candidates for the USG Winter 2017 elections.
Voting will take place from noon on Tuesday, Dec. 12 to noon on Thursday, Dec. 14.