Newly elected Student Action candidates disqualified from 2019 ASUC elections

Katherine Finman/Staff

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A unanimous decision from the ASUC Judicial Council early Tuesday morning disqualified all Student Action candidates from the 2019 elections cycle after the party preliminarily won a majority of the ASUC Senate and partisan executive seats for the next academic year at Friday’s tabulations ceremony.

The party was charged Monday with one Class B, or major, violation for misrepresenting and failing to report campaign contributions or expenditures from reserves, bumping the party’s total number of censures, or official reprimands, up to five. ASUC bylaws state that any candidate or party that receives five or more censures will be disqualified from the elections cycle.

Student Action, which received two censures Thursday in a separate case relating to spam emails, was charged with three more censures early Tuesday morning for failing to report $3,081.20 in reserves. Instead, the party reported $0 in reserves from last year, and when asked by the Elections Council, the party was unable to account for about $964 of the $3,081.20.

“We have done our absolute best to try to find every single penny of that, but at the end of the day, we couldn’t find every cent,” said Student Action co-chair Josh Wilson during the hearing. “We are trying in good faith to show that we didn’t use that (money for campaign expenditures).”

Judicial Council members were instructed not to take the potential outcome of the hearing into consideration when making their decisions.

ASUC Elections Prosecutor Jedidiah Tsang said at the hearing that the entire party, rather than just individual candidates, received censures because all Student Action candidates allegedly declined to designate their own campaign finance liaisons and instead opted to use the party’s financial director, Anthony Sanchez.

This means that all Student Action candidates now have five censures for the 2019 elections cycle and are disqualified from the race, according to a press release that Tsang shared with The Daily Californian. He later rescinded the press release, adding that the Elections Council has no comment as of press time.

“If even a cent of the missing $3,000 went to campaign finance, it could have affected the outcome of the elections,” Tsang said during the hearing.

The Elections Council has not yet announced which candidates will take the three executive seats and 11 senate seats that Student Action candidates won Friday.

Student Action released a statement Tuesday morning in which it condemned the Judicial Council’s decision, alleging that the council’s conduct was “unprofessional and unethical.”

Current Academic Affairs Vice President Melany Amarikwa said in a Facebook post that Student Action will be pursuing the “necessary course of action” to reverse the effects of the ruling.

“I was so so grateful to be heard, trusted, and uplifted by the voters in this election cycle,” said former ASUC president-elect Amma Sarkodee-Adoo in a Facebook post. “I owe it to the voters to keep fighting.”

CalSERVE, the other major campus political party, said in a press release early Tuesday morning that it was waiting for a formal statement from the Elections Council and the Judicial Council before proceeding to the next steps.

“Ensuring that candidates and parties respect the bylaws is critical to the legitimacy of our student elected officials, as well as the quality of their leadership,” said CalSERVE party chair zaynab abdulqadir-morris in the press release. “We will continue to be accountable to the campus community as we accomplish the work we were prepared to do with five elected officials — but now empowered with thirteen.”

Contact Katherine Finman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.