Campaign finance documents for the 2012 ASUC general election show that candidates reported they spent a total of about $11,815.
The Student Action party spent the most, but the party also ran the most candidates. Candidates from Student Action and CalSERVE — traditionally the strongest student political parties — spent about $5,091 and $3,402 respectively. The documents were filed throughout the election process.
Though third parties and independents spent much less than the major parties, they were not without costs either. Students for a Democratic University candidates spent about $560, Defend Affirmative Action Party candidates spent about $1,674 and candidates from the SQUELCH! party spent about $470. Independent candidates reported spending a total of about $300.
There were no financial documents provided for independent presidential and senate candidate Brad Mosell, who previously announced that he dropped his bid for president but remained on the ballot because he left the race after the mandatory candidates meeting. Similarly, there were no documents provided for independent presidential candidate and current Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein or any of the satirical SQUELCH! candidates. Documents were also not provided for independent senate candidates Will Skinner or Philip Zhou.
Executive candidates tended to spend more money than candidates for senate, though the amounts spent varied among the different parties. They are also allowed to spend more — ASUC bylaws allow executive candidates to spend $1,000 on their campaigns and senate candidates to spend only $200.
Student Action and CalSERVE each ran four executive candidates, but Student Action spent far more on its executive slate. According to the documents, Student Action executive candidates spent about $2,330, and CalSERVE executive candidates spent about $1,560.
CalSERVE party chair Courtney McDonald said the cap on executive candidate spending is “very generous” and the party did not need to get close to the limit to run an effective campaign. Student Action party chair Sabina Del Rosso could not be reached for comment.
Election costs were based on campaign materials including picket-board printouts, fliers, poster boards and the like. Food provided at campaign events was not a mandatory expense to report after the Elections Council decided that the bylaws were vague on the matter.
ASUC Attorney General Deepti Rajendran said in an email that “the use of the word ‘explicit’ in defining campaign materials make disregarding food likely and understandable” and recommended that the senate change the bylaws next year.
But some candidates did factor it into their costs and others felt it should have been included.
“Parties use food to attract voters, no different than posters and pamphlets,” said Frank Luna, academic affairs vice president candidate for Students of a Democratic University, in an email. If food was included, documents show at least one candidate would have exceeded spending limits.
Additionally, Student Action senate candidates spent significantly more than their CalSERVE competitors, although Student Action ran more senate candidates. The 19 Student Action senate candidates listed on the ballot spent about $2,760 and the 11 CalSERVE senate candidates spent about $1,840.
However, the documents also include spending from the campaign of Andrew Kooker, who was dropped from the Student Action senate slate on March 24 but remained on the ballot as a Student Action candidate because he was dropped after the mandatory candidates meeting. Kooker’s campaign spent about $193.
Students for a Democratic University did not include the cost of 1,000 fliers in their spending report, which the party listed as a donation. Party spokesperson Margaret Hardy said she believed the party has submitted almost everything except a few “really tiny things” such as photocopies, which she estimates will be about $10 to $15.
Chloe Hunt and Courtney Moulds cover student government.