COLUMBIA, Mo. – Three candidates for University of Missouri's student government have dropped out after the discovery of offensive tweets they made.
Blaine Thomas and Claire Jacobs separately announced Tuesday they were quitting the race for Missouri Students Association president after student journalist Brett Stover publicized tweets of theirs that included racist and homophobic language, the Columbia Missourian reported.
Stover also revealed derogatory tweets about women and black people posted by vice-presidential candidate Caius Gillen. He removed himself from the race Wednesday.
"I want to reiterate that I am so sorry for any pain my old tweets may have caused," Gillen posted on his Twitter account. "I am not the person I was two years ago – I hope that my fellow students will forgive me."
Stover, a junior who works at campus radio station KCOU, shared on his personal Twitter account a history of the candidates' comments posted between 2012 and 2016.
The Board of Elections Commissioners suspended the presidential campaign Tuesday to investigate the matter. Board members have since reinstated the campaign after deciding they couldn't punish candidates for comments posted before the election period.
"None of these tweets were made during the election period, so they fall outside of my statute of limitation," said Joseph Sell, board chairman. "As the BEC, I can only make decisions regarding the election."
Stover said he looked through several years of tweets by all six candidates running for student office as a part of election coverage. He said it's a process he has repeated since arriving to the university in 2015.
"I never hope that I'll find these kinds of things because, I mean, it's disappointing," Stover said. "It shows you how far the university has not come since the time I've been here."
The information has been forwarded to the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX, said Christian Basi, spokesman for the university.
"You never expect something like this to happen, especially during an election," Sell said.