In this year’s ASUC election, candidates spent a total of $10,164.27 on campaign expenditures.
Each election season, parties and candidates are required to file documents detailing their expenses to the ASUC Elections Council. This year’s campaign finance documents indicate CalSERVE and Student Action — traditionally the two strongest campus political parties — spent about $4,200 and $3,500, respectively, on party and candidate spending.
Party spending is defined as campaign expenditures that impact the entire party, such as the purchase of tents on Sproul Plaza for candidates as well as party T-shirts. Candidate spending includes expenditures that impact individual campaigns, such as campaign literature and picket signs. There is a limit on campaign spending, which is capped at $1,000 for executive candidates, $200 for senatorial candidates and $2,625 for party spending.
Most of the items included in campaign finance documents are durables or easily trackable items, such as clothing and signs. Costs not included are objects such as glue, tape, chalk and food, which are considered hard to track.
ASUC Attorney General Kevin Sabo said the council may consider including food as an expense in the future while also emphasizing the importance of the spending cap.
“Our elections should be based on the quality of candidates and their platforms rather than any student’s ability to flood people with material or host a giant party,” Sabo said. “It should be based on their quality, not the depth of their pockets.”
This year, Student Action spent more on individual candidates’ expenditures for its 15 senatorial candidates and one executive presidential candidate, Pavan Upadhyayula. CalSERVE spent comparatively more money on party spending than any other party in the elections.
Student Action candidates pay a flat rate to the party, which then metes out funds for individual campaigns, while executive candidates pay a higher rate than senatorial candidates. The party spent only $22.64 on party expenditures.
“Most of the materials we need for campaigning are covered by the cost of the individual candidates, so we don’t have that much extra spending,” said Student Action party chair Antonia Acquistapace.
The average Student Action senatorial candidate spent about $190, while Upadhyayula spent about $700. In comparison, the average CalSERVE senatorial candidate spent about $75, with executive candidates spending about $550. CalSERVE spent the most on party expenditures at $1,152.82.
“Even with the amount of party spending we did, we weren’t dangerously close to the cap,” said CalSERVE elections coordinator Denim Ohmit. “We in CalSERVE took the senate spending cap very seriously, and we were very careful in making sure we didn’t go over the cap.”
Parties with larger slates, such as CalSERVE and Student Action, reported higher overall expenses than did third parties and independents. Third party SQUELCH! spent about $740, BearFeed.org spent about $250 and the Defend Affirmative Action Party spent $890. Independent candidates spent a total of about $760.
Executive candidates reported higher expenses than did senatorial candidates in most cases. This year, Student Action ran only one executive candidate, while its historically rival student political party, CalSERVE, ran a full executive slate.
There was one instance of a candidate exceeding the spending cap when Student Action senatorial candidate Hannah Frankl spent $213.04. Although Sabo filed charges against Frankl with the ASUC Judicial Council, the council decided against giving Frankl a censure. The council decided her violation did not infringe upon the “spirit of the bylaws,” which it deemed was to promote the fairness of ASUC elections.