ASUC candidates, parties spend more than in previous elections

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Candidates and registered campus political parties spent more than $13,000 on campaigning in the 2015-16 ASUC elections, an increase of more than $3,000 from last year.

The party spending cap is $2,625, while executive and senate candidates can spend up to $1,000 and $200, respectively. Party spending includes expenditures that impact the party as a whole. Typical candidate expenditures this election cycle included photographs, campaign literature and websites.

CalSERVE’s total spending, which includes candidate and party spending, was $6,318.51, with an average of $171.37 per senate candidate and $574.21 per executive candidate, according to expenditure forms. Last year, CalSERVE’s total spending was $4,225.85.

CalSERVE — the only party to run a full, nonsatirical executive slate — spent more than $1,000 on items such as tote bags and water bottles with the party’s logo, and was the only party that used flyers appealing to graduate students.

“Candidates were expected to raise similar amounts as to last year,” said CalSERVE Chief of Staff Karina Paredes in an email. “In the past two years we have had a similar budget. Overall, CalSERVE aims to keep costs low in order to focus on quality within our party from the resources we do have.”

Student Action candidates spent a total of $3,926.02 with an average of $71.34 per senate candidate and $951.97 per executive candidate. The party spent $148.68 on pizzas and a website, whereas last year it spent only $22.64 on party expenditures.

In last year’s election, the spending cap did not apply to food. Because of a change in the ASUC bylaws, food expenses did count toward candidates’ spending limits this year, according to ASUC Chief Elections Auditor Tina Uh.

“Reporting every single thing, including the tiniest thing — it got pretty tedious, but it’s really something I wanted to do so that we can be kept accountable and kept responsible for whatever we spend money on,” said Student Action party chair Ryan Kang.

Including both candidate and party spending, Student Action spent $4,074.70, an increase from $3,550.74 last year.

SQUELCH!’s satirical executive slate did not spend any money, but its three senate candidates spent a total of $430.79, while the party spent $129 — most of which was spent on free coffee for voters — whereas last year the party spent a total of more than $700. SQUELCH! senate candidates spent money on items such as balloons, bubbles and Otter Pops.

The two SQUELCH! senate candidates who spent the most on campaigning won seats in the ASUC senate. The two winning candidates spent $147.38 and $179.11, while the unsuccessful candidate spent $104.30.

The Defend Affirmative Action Party ran two executive candidates, who were also on the ballot for senate seats, and two senate candidates, although no party member was elected. The executive candidates spent $95.53 each, while DAAP’s senate candidates spent $66.25 each. The party spent $92.65, which was used for a table.

The Cooperative Movement Party’s sole senate candidate, Sheena Paul, spent $181.84, while the party spent $254.25. Most of the funding went to campaign literature and posters, including a poster that mentioned the CalSERVE executive candidates, who were endorsed by the Berkeley Student Cooperative’s board of directors.

BASED. presidential candidate Pranay Chaurasia spent $10 on a website, but the party did not report spending any money.

Independent student advocate candidate Leah Romm was reported on expenditure forms to have gone over the executive candidate $1,000 limit by $59.35, which she said was due to being included in CalSERVE’s and Student Action’s campaign literatures. She added that although she was grateful for their support, she herself had spent less than $85 of her own funds on campaigning.

“In my opinion, whatever amounts they listed as going towards my campaign were probably not technically accurate,” Romm said in an email.

Independent presidential candidate Nicolas Jaber did not report spending any money on his campaign but failed the ASUC Elections Council’s audit because campaign material expenditure forms were not received from him, according to Uh. He spent more than $400 on his  campaign for external affairs vice president in last year’s election.

Independent senate candidates Eric Zhevel and Matt Holtzer spent $44.40 on a stamp and $15 on campaign photos, respectively. Cuahuctemoc Salinas and Sumayyah Din, who were the only successful independent senate candidates, spent $190.44 and $181.64, respectively.

In last week’s election, CalSERVE candidates won all four partisan executive positions and eight senate seats, while Student Action won seven senate seats. Romm was elected to the student advocate position, and two independent senate candidates were elected. In addition, two SQUELCH! candidates won senate seats, along with the Cooperative Movement Party’s sole senate candidate.

Angel Grace Jennings covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.