Penn State

Smith continues fight in alumni council lawsuit

The man suing the Penn State Alumni Association over problems with the alumni council elections is not giving up the fight, even though he has been added to the ballot.

James Smith says the issue is bigger than that, saying the “PSAA has failed to comply with its bylaws.”

Smith and another candidate, Elizabeth Morgan, were added to the official ballot list on the association’s website last week, after the defense responded to the lawsuit. PSAA asked Centre County court to dismiss the case with prejudice as the issue was now moot.

Smith insists it is not, claiming that statements saying he and Morgan “were not approved to continue on in the process” disparaged their character, and in documents filed last week, he demanded the issue be settled by a court order.

Smith’s filing also included a raft of emails that showed the process leading up to the announcement of the alumni council ballot.

An October email with President Kay Salvino documents the first exchange between Smith and the association regarding the election. There are also numerous emails from David Paterno, himself one of the 32 candidates for 10 open seats, nominating Smith.

Smith requested nomination petition forms after being unable to find them on the website, and on Oct. 30, emailed the nomination committee to say he had created his own form after no one responded to him.

When committee member Kevin Barron did respond, it was with two lines.

“If you feel you need to collect signatures on the form you provided, you may. But until after the nominations committee meets, there is no further information I can give you,” court documents show his response.

Paterno responded to Barron, copying Salvino and Executive Director Roger Williams.

“Because this is an election process and governed by very specific rules that you are the authority on, not Jim or me, I prefer that we NOT use Jim’s petition format and that we use your official petition forms,” Paterno wrote. “Do you have an official Petition Form? How do we obtain your official petition forms today?”

Otherwise, he asked for an assurance that Smith’s petitions would be accepted.

“I have given you all the information that I have,” Barron wrote back.

Paterno wrote back, detailing the problems and questions again, and asking, “Please answer directly.”

“I clearly understand your questions. I will not have answers to them until the nominating committee meets. No degree of continued communication can change that,” Barron responded.

Twelve days later, Williams notified Smith that the committee would be in touch with potential candidates as soon as all nominations were reviewed.

On Dec. 19, Barron acknowledged the nomination had been received. When the nominations were announced in early February, a number of candidates were not included, including four trustees and former assistant football coach Jay Paterno.

The association said the nomination committee had made the determinations based on many factors, including volunteerism.

The election is slated for May.