Concerns about campaign spending surfaced while new independent and third-party candidates for executive positions were revealed Tuesday night at a mandatory meeting for all candidates running in the 2012 ASUC general election.
The ASUC Elections Council held the meeting to give an overview of campaign rules. The meeting was the final opportunity for students to change which positions they will run for in the April election.
SQUELCH! Senator Noah Ickowitz switched his candidacy from a satirical run for student advocate to a serious presidential campaign. Former SQUELCH! senator Rachel Horning, the party’s previous joke candidate for president this year, is now running for student advocate in his place.
Ickowitz said the ASUC needs a president that represents the interests of the entire student body and not just the issues of a student political party’s own members and coalition.
Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein is running for president as an independent in order to bring attention to the fact that student tuition is contributing more to the cost of education than the state and therefore “shared governance” should be demanded by students. Goldstein is currently serving his second term as a senator after an unsuccessful bid for executive vice president last year.
“I’m running to tell people what they already know,” Goldstein said. “You’re paying more than the state for your education.”
Additionally, sophomore Brad Mosell is running for president as an independent on a platform of election reform that addresses candidates spending and a better voting system, as well as promoting sustainability, among other goals.
Stacy Suh, an independent candidate for student advocate and chief of staff to the current student advocate Samar Shah, had already announced her candidacy through Facebook prior to the meeting. Suh said that if elected, she hopes to raise visibility of the office and improve the services that are already provided. She said has been endorsed by representatives from Student Action and CalSERVE.
During the meeting, while Elections Council Chair Pamudh Kariyawasam presented information on party information, Horning asked about party spending and loopholes in senate bylaws allowing for unlimited spending by student political parties. Other students at the meeting then asked about the alleged loophole.
Members from both the Student Action and CalSERVE executive slates left the meeting early to attend other meetings they had scheduled, leaving delegates in their places.
Many third party candidates echoed Horning’s concerns, and when Kariyawasam said it was time to move on with the meeting, students objected and the conversation continued.
Horning said she feels the ASUC elections lack transparency and allow student political parties to spend unlimited amounts. According to current ASUC bylaws, spending is limited to $1,000 for individual executive campaigns and $200 for individual senate campaigns.
However, this does not limit the amount that a party has a whole can spend on general party materials.
“Independent candidates are at a disadvantage because of the structure of the elections process,” Horning said.
Last spring, when Horning was a SQUELCH! senator, she and Waseem Salahi, then an independent senator, tried to pass a bill through the ASUC Senate that would have limited party spending to $500 and would also require parties to fund their campaigns through publicly available means such as CalLink.
According to election bylaws, political parties must submit records of money spent on candidates during the election process. However, the source of the money and the question of whether all campaign finances are reported are still concern, Ickowitz said.
Marrina Wang, publicity coordinator for the council, said that Student Action — a party that some of the attacks on campaign spending were directed toward — is like any other student organization that can have T-shirts or other items for the group that is not connected to the elections.
“We definitely agree that there is a problem,” Kariyawasam said. “But this isn’t a problem the election council can fix.”
Chloe Hunt is the lead student government reporter.