There has been controversy this week after it was revealed that Rob Newton, candidate for York Sport, broke the strict YUSU campaigning rules just hours after voting opened.
In an email sent by Rob Grant, President of York Rugby, to over 150 people on the rugby mailing list, it was stated: “One of the candidates ROB NEWTON has been in contact with me regarding his policies so have a look at them and see what you think.”
He then laid out a comprehensive list of Newton’s policies, emphasising those which particularly applied to the rugby club. The message then finished with the statement: “Unfortunately the other candidates have not contacted me, although I’m sure they have Facebook groups with their policies on.”
Such an email directly violates the campaigning rules against mass emails, with candidates only allowed to email those who have ‘previously explicitly agreed to receive campaign communications’. It also came directly after Emily Scott, current York Sport President, sent an email to all sports clubs warning them not to use club mailing lists to endorse candidates.
As a result of breaking the rules, Newton has been banned from campaigning between 12 and 4:30pm tomorrow. In response to questioning he stated: “It’s a shame and I don’t endorse what he did. It’s similar to Sam’s email in that it wasn’t put out by me or my campaign directly. I sent an apology to Sam once I found out what had happened.”
He continued to comment: “However, it was obvious to everyone that Rob Grant was a supporter of me so I don’t think the email made much difference. Most people already know what is going on and are wise enough to make their own decisions.”
Sam Asfahani, the only candidate running against Newton, was banned from campaigning last week after a similar incident with the football club mailing list.
Speaking to Nouse he commented: “I do feel sympathy for him as obviously I understand the situation. Rob did send an apology and offered to send my policies to the mailing list as well, which I appreciate.
“Nonetheless, there is quite big difference in that Rob Grant is really close to his campaign, and it makes it more serious as it was done during voting. It is essentially campaigning in the ballot box- directly telling people who to vote for.”
The fact that this has occurred twice with York Sport candidates during this years elections has led many to question whether a few hours of campaign banning is sufficient punishment to prevent further abuse of the extensive sports mailing lists.