ASUC Judicial Council issues censure against CalSERVE senator-elect for unsolicited campaign emails

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The ASUC Judicial Council issued a censure against CalSERVE senator-elect Benedict Llave for violating ASUC bylaws regarding unsolicited emails during campaigning.

The Judicial Council convened after ASUC Elections Council Prosecutor Olivia Cusimano requested a judgment on Llave’s alleged violation of ASUC election bylaws. The bylaws state that using email lists or posting boards to campaign is considered spam unless the individual sending the email has a preexisting relationship with the recipient or recipients, has gained permission from the leader of the organization receiving the emails or is a member of the organization.

Elections Council chair Jenny Chien received an email from the primary complainant, James Park, reporting that he had received an unsolicited email from Llave. Cusimano then obtained a statement from Park indicating that he had neither met Llave nor expressed interest in his campaign.

“We tell our candidates not to message people they don’t have relationships with, and meet people on Sproul or message friends and co-workers, and some of those folks don’t recall or appreciate the messaging,” said CalSERVE party chair Spencer Pritchard. “But (Llave) thought he was well within the bylaws.”

According to a brief from the defense, Park’s email was in Llave’s database of contacts because Park was a contact of one of Llave’s campaign volunteers. Llave said his volunteer, who had a preexisting relationship with Park, added Park’s email to the database and sent out an email to the database.

The Judicial Council ultimately found Llave guilty of violating the bylaws, saying he did not provide sufficient evidence to prove that he had a preexisting relationship with the recipient.

Additionally, the fact that one of Llave’s staff members had a preexisting relationship with the recipient was considered by the council to be irrelevant, as the email was sent from Llave’s email and was worded in the first person.

“The issue with (Llave’s case) was that he didn’t have any prior relationship with Park, even though one of his staffers did,” said assistant chief justice Nir Maoz. “Had the staffer sent something himself (to Park), that would have been fine, but it was sent directly from Llave’s email, and there needs to be a direct link.”

Student Action senator-elect Alicia Lau and former candidate James Zamora, who are also charged with sending unsolicited emails, originally pleaded guilty, but ASUC Attorney General Natalja Karniouchina reversed the plea bargains and referred their cases to the Judicial Council, where their cases are still under deliberation.

The only candidate who will enter into a plea bargain, which would have to be approved by the Judicial Council, is Diana Nguyen of CalSERVE, because she is facing more than one censure.

According to Cusimano, a number of charges were dropped after the Elections Council was given information by party chairs that cleared many of the candidates.

Bo Kovitz is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @beau_etc.