City Council candidate Ben Gould cleared by Fair Campaign Practices Commission

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The Fair Campaign Practices Commission, or FCPC, voted Thursday to not pursue an additional investigation into a complaint filed by the campus Progressive Student Association alleging that City Council candidate Ben Gould demonstrated unfair campaign practices.

On Jan. 30, the Progressive Student Association at UC Berkeley filed a complaint against Ben Gould, a candidate for the Berkeley City Council District 4 seat, alleging he violated the Berkeley Elections Reform Act. The complaint alleged that Gould failed to disclose the name of the political committee paying for communications on his campaign Facebook page and failed to list major donors — including himself —  on social media.

According to the organization’s vice president of finance, Matthew Lewis, the Progressive Student Association was founded to support Bernie Sanders in the presidential race but has since shifted focus to evaluating local politics in the city of Berkeley.

City spokesperson Matthai Chakko said that during the vote the motion passed unanimously, with 5-0 in favor of not pursuing a more rigorous investigation into Gould’s campaign.

“The FCPC voted to find probable cause that violations of BERA had been committed but determined that the violations had been corrected promptly and that the complaint did not merit additional investigation or further action,” Chakko said.

Lewis said, however, that members of Progressive Student Association still feel as though their concerns with campaign transparency have not been properly addressed and that they will continue to monitor the actions of other campaigns.

“We will still be looking at potential other charges against Ben Gould or other organizations in this race that we believe have committed violations,” Lewis said.   

In a press release posted on Gould’s campaign website Friday, his campaign manager Kristin Hunziker said the role of the commission was not to punish grassroots candidates such as Gould but rather address more serious corruption during the elections.

In response to the complaints, Gould said his campaign will work to communicate more frequently with city staff in order to ensure a fair campaign run.

“My all-volunteer campaign has worked diligently to comply with BERA throughout my campaign. We all believe strongly in and support free, fair and transparent elections,” Gould said.

Contact Kate Tinney at [email protected].