Rick Perry Criticizes Election of Texas A&M’s First Gay Student President
Former Texas Governor and current U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is weighing in on the recent election of his alma mater's first openly gay student body president, raising questions about "due process and transparency".
Those who casually skim headlines might assume Perry is upset about Bobby Brooks' sexual orientation, but in an editorial piece he submitted to the Houston Chronicle (Did A&M shun due process in the name of 'diversity'?), Perry wrote positively about the idea that the person best suited to the job could win the title of Texas A&M Student Government Association President, no matter their orientation.
"When I first read that our student body had elected an openly gay man, Bobby Brooks, for president of the student body, I viewed it as a testament to the Aggie character", Perry wrote." I was proud of our students because the election appeared to demonstrate a commitment to treating every student equally, judging on character rather than on personal characteristics."
Perry's issue lies not with Brooks' personal life, it seems, but with the disqualification of Brooks' opponent, Robert McIntosh, by student election officials.
As reported by watchdog.com, McIntosh was accused of voter intimidation and failing to provide receipts for glow sticks used in a campaign video. (Click here to view the video on the Rally with Robert Facebook page.)
According to official voting results from tamuelection.com, McIntosh received 34.70% of votes cast by students with eligible ballots vs Brooks' 29.38%, making McIntosh the winner.
However, as Perry points out in his letter to the Chronicle, anonymous complaints about McIntosh's campaign workers walking alongside students on campus to discuss the candidate were received by the SGA Election Commission six hours after the polls had closed. Another anonymous complaint brought the glow stick issue to the Commission's attention, and, without questioning McIntosh or conducting an investigation, the Commission immediately disqualified McIntosh and declared Brooks the winner.
Brooks did not win the election," Perry wrote. "He finished second by more than 750 votes to one Mr. Robert McIntosh. However, McIntosh was disqualified by the SGA Election Commission and Judicial Court through a process that - at best - made a mockery of due process and transparency."
McIntosh won an appeal to the TAMU Judicial Court contesting the intimidation accusations, but the court upheld the Commission's decision to disqualify him for use of the glow sticks, which Perry claims he received while participating in a charity event prior to the campaign.
As reported by TAMU's The Battalion, the court acknowledged the seemingly innocuous nature of the violation ("namely the presentation of a few inexpensive glow sticks for eight or nine seconds during a Facebook video"), but insisted that their ruling rested "squarely upon the written text of the Regulations."
“The interpretation and application of the law is the Court’s sole charge in the Judicial Branch," the court stated.
"In its opinion, the Judicial Court admitted that the charges were minor and technical, but, incredibly, chose to uphold the disqualification, with no consideration given to whether the punishment fit the crime," Perry wrote. "The desire of the electorate is overturned, and thousands of student votes are disqualified because of free glow sticks that appeared for 11 seconds of a months-long campaign. Apparently, glow sticks merit the same punishment as voter intimidation."
You can read the full text of Perry's editorial at the Houston Chronicle's website. What do you think? Does the punishment fit the crime, or, as Perry claims, was the student government body's treatment of McIntosh unjust?