Secret Society Disclosure Brings Focus to Appelbaum Campaign
Sticka Among Names Tied to Stewards in Anonymous Post
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 15:02
An anonymous Facebook profile, “StewardThroat Hoya,” has shaken up the GUSA presidential election less than 24 hours before voting begins with allegations regarding the involvement of presidential candidate Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) in a secret society.
Documents posted to Facebook, some removed and later reposted on a newly created blog, include Google messages between members of the Second Society of Stewards. Among them are Appelbaum and Jake Sticka (COL ’13), Georgetown University Student Association chief of staff and Appelbaum’s campaign manager. Tax filings for an affiliated charitable trust were also posted.
Appelbaum confirmed his membership in the Stewards in an interview with The Hoya, although he would not provide further information about the society.
“My campaign is separate from the Stewards Society,” Appelbaum said. “They’re entirely disconnected.”
Appelbaum did acknowledge that other members of the Stewards have been active in his campaign, including Sticka, who could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. Appelbaum told The Hoya that Sticka was ill and had received treatment at Georgetown University Hospital Tuesday evening.
Asked if he regretted the decision not to disclose his membership in the Stewards, Appelbaum said he does not believe voters have a right to know if candidates are members in secret societies.
“It’s a private association of mine, just like any of the other candidates might have other private associations,” Appelbaum said. “Because it’s something that I keep private, I don’t think that I have to explain every single thing I’ve been a part of in my history.”
In the wake of the development, Shavonnia Corbin Johnson (SFS ’14) and Joe Vandegriff (COL ’14) announced that they were no longer encouraging supporters to rank Appelbaum and Cleary No. 2 on their ballots. Corbin Johnson had announced the cross-endorsement along with Appelbaum at the Monday presidential debate, and the two tickets promoted it in subsequent social media posts.
“We refuse to align ourselves publicly or privately with any members of an organization that lacks transparency and accountability at Georgetown,” Vandegriff said in a statement to The Hoya early Wednesday morning. “We were saddened to learn that our fellow candidates had withheld such important information from us throughout the run up to the GUSA election.”
“Secret organizations go against our values and are in no way a part of our movement. We cannot allow others to represent us and our commitment to our values when we do not agree with their actions,” Vandegriff added.
This year’s other four GUSA tickets denied responsibility for releasing the information and disavowed knowledge of its source, which remains unknown. The opposing candidates also all said they were not members of secret societies.
The Second Stewards Society issued a statement Wednesday morning in response to this article, in which the group defends its role in Appelbaum's campaign and the integrity of his ticket.
Other than Appelbaum and Sticka, 2012 presidential candidate Tyler Sax (COL ’13) and former GUSA director of communications Matthew Hoyt (COL '12) are the only current or former GUSA officials identified in the emails. Sax declined to comment, although he acknowledged he was supporting Appelbaum in Thursday’s election. Hoyt could not be reached Wednesday morning.
Appelbaum’s running mate, Maggie Cleary (COL ’14), said Appelbaum told her of his membership when they formed their ticket, a fact Appelbaum confirmed in a separate interview. She added that she does not believe the Stewards have given her campaign an unusual level of support compared to other student organizations, and she denied that the Stewards have influenced the ticket’s platform.
Appelbaum said he was troubled by the disclosure and believes it presents a distraction in the final stretch of the campaign.