CalTV staffer files charges against Daily Cal fee referendum

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Charges were filed against The Daily Californian’s fee referendum campaign Sunday, two days before students will begin voting in the 2012 ASUC general election.

CalTV Director of Business, Advertising and Marketing Elizabeth Kopaskie filed a formal charge sheet against the Daily Cal’s V.O.I.C.E. Initiative. The charges cite multiple alleged campaign violations, which could result in the disqualification of the referendum if a ruling by the ASUC Judicial Council finds the charges are warranted.

Judicial Council Chair Erica Furer said in an email on Monday that the council accepted the charge sheet and a hearing is scheduled for this Friday at 6 p.m. in the ASUC Senate Chambers.

Kopaskie filed her claims as an individual. Under ASUC bylaws, ASUC-sponsored student groups cannot campaign for or against election candidates or initiatives.

The initiative asks students to approve a $2 semesterly student fee to reduce the risk of the Daily Cal losing its print editions while allowing it to expand its online presence. The referendum would generate about $93,800 annually for five years.

The first charge contends that the Daily Cal violated a bylaw that disallows “using ASUC authority, facilities … including Eshleman Hall, for campaign purposes.” The charge states that the Daily Cal set up a table in the basement of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union and stored materials in the Daily Cal office in Eshleman Hall.

Lynn Yu, campaign manager for the initiative, said the Daily Cal had permission from the student union store manager to set up the table during an event and that the Daily Cal pays monthly rent for its office.

Another charge alleges that posting V.O.I.C.E. fliers within Daily Cal newspapers on racks violates of a bylaw that campaign materials cannot be placed on campus structures. A third charge states that “sandwich board” signs are not allowed.

The bylaws state, “attaching or leaning sandwich boards … against campus vertical features” is prohibited unless “they are attended by a person within six feet of the display.”

Students in opposition say the fee could lead to a Daily Cal monopoly over information and advertisements. They add that revenues generated from the initiative will unfairly expand the Daily Cal and that students will fund a failing business.

“I believe the ASUC Election by-laws need to be obeyed in order to assure a just and accurate measure of student sentiment,” Kopaskie said in the email.

Yu said that money from the initiative will be used to fill less than half of the Daily Cal’s current budget deficit.

Yu said she found out she could not file charges against the “No on V.O.I.C.E.” campaign for alleged campaign violations.

“Because there is no official organization behind them … There is no one you can censure or charge,” Yu said, adding that she has seen chalking and other campaign violations committed.

Punishments for election bylaws violations could include disqualification or censure. Five censures require disqualification, ASUC bylaws state.

View the charge sheet below.

Chloe Hunt is the lead student government reporter.