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Cosgrove Caught Out in By-election Betrayal

Laura McQuillan

News

10/07/2006





NEWLY ELECTED VUWSA Education Vice-President Joel Cosgrove lied publicly about his involvement in an alleged breach of the VUWSA constitution during last trimester’s by-election.
The alleged breach occurred when a former VUWSA exec member sent text-messages to students “recommending” Cosgrove for the vice-presidency during the by-election.
“There is nothing they can do to you unless they prove I have anything to do with this.”
Cosgrove’s sole opponent Gareth Robinson had intended to lay a complaint about the texting, claiming it breached Section 54a of the VUWSA constitution, which reads “no person shall on the day of any poll or election in any way interfere with any elector either in the polling booth or on his/her way thereto with the intention of influencing him/her or advising him/her how to vote.”
Despite Cosgrove’s protestations of ignorance, the former exec member at the centre of the scandal told Salient that he was “definitely aware of [the text-messaging] during the election”, and in fact was present while the message was being sent out. “I sent 20 texts and then I asked Joel to check the constitution for me, and he said he checked it and that it was only him that wasn’t allowed to text-message,” they said.
Cosgrove has repeatedly denied knowledge of the text-messaging during the election, saying “if I had known about it I would have said no, for obvious reasons.” He claimed he checked the constitution for the former exec member prior to the election – at which time the campaigning would have been permitted.
However, Salient has since received an email from Cosgrove to the former exec member, in which he writes: “the text you sent out, I can’t have anything to do with it. James Robinson [Salient Editor] got told about it from some “anonymous” person. There is nothing they can do to you unless they prove I have anything to do with this. You don’t need to respond to any questions.”
VUWSA President Nick Kelly confirmed this, saying he “understood” that Cosgrove was aware of the text-messaging during the by-election.
The former exec member could not remember the exact contents of the text-messages, but told Salient that they had “recommended” Cosgrove. They claimed they were merely attempting to boost voter turnout and “only sent 40 text messages in total”, a number which they believed did not impact on the final result, due to the massive margin by which Cosgrove won.
Robinson’s intention to lay an official complaint was later abandoned. “I had 7 or 8 people who said they would sign [the complaint form], so I went away and did the form up, and they all disappeared,” Robinson says. “I couldn’t get the signatures, so I couldn’t put the claim in.”
The scandal has not dashed Robinson’s ambition of one day winning a VUWSA position. He says it is “pretty likely” that he’ll be running for VUWSA again, “probably just for President.”