Campus group files complaint against City Council candidate Ben Gould for alleged violations

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The campus Progressive Student Association, or PSA, filed a complaint regarding numerous campaign violations with the Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission against District 4 Berkeley City Council candidate Ben Gould for allegedly violating the Berkeley Elections Reform Act, or BERA.

The complaint alleged that Gould violated multiple provisions of BERA, including by paying for electronic advertisements that failed to disclose the name of the political committee responsible for funding the advertisements and by failing to list donors who contributed more than $250 to his campaign — notably Gould himself — on his campaign materials.

“We think that there are a lot of unfair advantages here,” said PSA Vice President Matthew Lewis. “He’s portraying himself as a grassroots candidate, which he isn’t. … When you don’t include that you’ve given yourself over $250, it looks like you’re not relying on self-funding.”

Lewis said PSA’s motive for filing the complaint was to ensure accountability in the campaign finance system. According to Lewis, PSA is endorsing Kate Harrison for the District 4 City Council seat.

Gould said in an email that any mistakes made by his campaign were made in good faith, adding that his campaign would work with the city’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission to address them. Gould also reaffirmed that he is running an all-volunteer grassroots campaign — supported by more than 60 small donors and hundreds of District 4 residents, according to Gould.

Gould emphasized that he is a “strong supporter” of Berkeley’s election laws and the limitation of the influence of big money on politics.

“The Progressive Student (Association’s) radical demand that I be disqualified from the race is a shocking departure from progressive principles,” Gould said in an email. “I’m certain that Kate Harrison would agree that such anti-democratic intimidation tactics are an affront to free, fair, and competitive elections.”

Harini Shyamsundar is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.