ASUC Elections Council charges Student Action executive slate, drops two cases

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Update 4/16/15: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the ASUC Elections Council decided not to file charges against SQUELCH!.

The ASUC Elections Council has decided to file a charge against the Student Action executive slate for alleged bylaw violations related to unsolicited campaign emails and dropped recently filed charges against two ASUC Senate candidates.

Diana Nguyen, one of the ASUC candidates charged with spamming, will plead guilty, but has not yet reached a plea agreement. Student Action senate candidates James Zamora and Alicia Lau, also charged with spamming, will take their cases to the Judicial Council. The two had originally agreed to plea deals of one censure each, said Elections Prosecutor Olivia Cusimano in an email. Five censures result in the disqualification of a candidate.

The spam email case against CalSERVE senate candidate Benedict Llave remains under investigation in the ASUC Judicial Council, Cusimano said.

“As candidates, we want to respect the privacy of the voters,” said Milad Razavi, Student Action presidential candidate. “Despite this, there is always the potential for miscommunication to arise.”

Cusimano added that the council dropped charges against Student Action senate candidate Karthik Prasad due to a lack of evidence that he allegedly spammed voters. Additionally, the case against CalSERVE senate candidate Arya Aliabadi, a former Daily Californian photo editor, was dropped in light of evidence that accusations against him may have been made with malicious intent.

Aliabadi was accused of misrepresenting his status as a member of the American Medical Student Association, or AMSA. Aliabadi said he heard from several sources that the charges were filed with the intent of hurting his chances as a candidate.

Originally, the council was looking into the prosecution’s claim that SQUELCH! policy director Nisa Dang filed charges against Aliabadi with what ASUC bylaws would consider “malicious” intent, but ultimately decided not to file charges.

Dang was alleged to have filed charges before Aliabadi was notified of his probationary status in AMSA. While investigating, the council found that Aliabadi had been on probation with AMSA but was not officially dismissed until the day the charge was filed against him, according to Cusimano.

“It is the opinion of the prosecution, then, that since candidate Aliabadi did, upon receiving dismissal from AMSA, amend his materials and take every necessary step to remove his affiliation from his campaign, that he should be exonerated of all charges,” Cusimano said in an email.

Dang said she received notice from AMSA board members that Aliabadi was not in compliance with AMSA rules and was confident the rules were clear enough that Aliabadi should have known he was not a member in good standing.

“I definitely did not (file charges) with malicious intent,” Dang said. “My entire ASUC career has been built on keeping it accountable.”

After checking these claims, the council decided not to proceed with charges against SQUELCH!. Cusimano said the council was “worried about the circumstances in which they obtained information,” but found that the information was legally obtained.

Charges do not amount to a conviction — rather, they can generally be initiated or withdrawn at any time.

Contact Melissa Wen and Elaina Provencio at [email protected].