Independent ASUC Senate candidate Nelson Ke is scheduled to stand trial against the ASUC Judicial Council on April 3 for allegedly violating two election bylaws.
Ke is the second candidate to face the Judicial Council this election season. The allegations against Ke grew out of a report he filed against fellow senate candidate Andy Theocharous on March 19, which Elections Prosecutor Ken Lohatepanont described as “misleading.”
The violation report was ultimately dismissed and led to the current charges against Ke for allegedly filing an untrue report.
In Ke’s original report, he alleged that Theocharous’ campaign created a sticky-note display that read “Vote 4 Andy” on the windows of two rooms in Unit 3 without the express permission of the residents. During Lohatepanont’s later investigation into Ke’s violation report, however, he discovered that Theocharous had obtained permission from the rooms’ residents before the sticky-note displays were posted on the windows.
“Campaigning in the residence halls is typically not allowed except for stickers placed on the windows of residents with their permission,” Lohatepanont said. “The residents living in both rooms in Unit 3 were staff on Andy’s campaign and were fully aware of the stickers on their windows.”
According to Paul Iskajyan, Student Action party co-chair and Theocharous’ student-appointed representative during Lohatepanont’s investigation, the complaint was dropped and no charges were ultimately filed.
Lohatepanont filed a petition Sunday against Ke’s campaign after a second investigation found Ke was, in Lohatepanont’s opinion, violating two bylaws that deal with the reportage of true information.
There was a miscommunication, however, according to Ke, and he said he was not acting maliciously.
Ke said he initially noticed the sticky note slogan after eating at Cafe 3 and, believing the displays were against election bylaws, sent his public relations manager, David Jiang, to investigate and speak to the residents of both rooms.
Ke described the residents’ initial answers as “ambiguous” based on Jiang’s initial report, particularly noting that it was not clear they were fully aware of the sticky notes’ connection to Theocharous’ campaign. Although he did not personally interview the residents and cannot comment on their direct responses, Ke said there may have been a miscommunication due to language barriers, because Jiang is a non-native English speaker.
Ke also stressed that the violation report was filed in good faith, not as an attempt at sabotage.
“The charge, together with the subsequent investigation, was born out of the concern given to campaign fairness and the suspicion that Candidate Andy might have violated the campaign laws,” Ke said in an email. “While I believe rules and principles should be placed above personal relations in a fair competition like ASUC elections, I do not wish the investigation and the upcoming Judicial Council hearing to jeopardize to any extent my relationship with Andy.”