Student Action allegedly commits elections violations in 2018, 2019

Sunny Shen/Senior Staff

Related Posts

Student Action allegedly committed multiple campaign violations in the 2018 and 2019 ASUC election cycles, which included allegedly failing to report expenditures such as T-shirts and stickers and spamming on Facebook.

An anonymous source, who wishes to remain nameless due to fear of public retaliation, contacted The Daily Californian after submitting documents to current and former ASUC elections prosecutors containing details of the violations that Student Action — the party that has historically represented the Jewish, engineering and Greek life communities — allegedly committed. Current Student Action party chair and campus senior Stephanie Luna-Lopez denied the allegations in their entirety.

“I was debating whether or not to do it for a year,” the anonymous source said. “It would be wrong if this never came out.”

The anonymous source sent documents with a range of accusations, including various screenshots accusing members of Student Action or their friends and campaign volunteers of posting spam on the UC Berkeley Class of 2022 Facebook page.

These claims were sent to former ASUC elections prosecutor Jedidiah Tsang, who, in an email given to the Daily Cal, said to the anonymous source that the ASUC considers class Facebook groups opt-in. According to ASUC bylaws on campaign rules and violations, this makes the posts not spam violations.

In addition, the anonymous source alleged a candidate running with Student Action failed to note that they no longer held certain official positions while advertising their qualifications for an ASUC role.

Stickers featuring the Student Action logo were reported on the 2019 Student Action campaign finance worksheet to the ASUC Elections Council as purchased on Feb. 17, 2019, but stickers were used — as documented in Facebook photos provided by the anonymous source — in September and October 2018. The stickers did not appear in the 2018 Student Action campaign finance worksheet. Blue Student Action T-shirts were also documented on Facebook posts as being used but were unreported as campaign finances.

Luna-Lopez said in an email Student Action is “confident” none of the allegations are true, however.

“Elections Council monitor campaign content and prosecute violations before verifying the results of the election of that year, which includes ads, spam, etc.,” Luna-Lopez said in her email. “We are confident that none of these allegations are true, and none of these were found in elections council’s monitoring.”

Former Student Action party co-chair Josh Wilson also denied the allegations, saying in an email that the party did not misrepresent its spending, nor did it buy or receive T-shirts in 2019.

Wilson noted that it was up to the ASUC Elections Council to decide whether or not a case was worth prosecuting.

“(The Elections Council’s) whole job is to look into these cases and decide if they want to prosecute people for it and bring censures to people or to parties,” Wilson said. “The Election Council will decide if there’s a case.

Former ASUC elections prosecutor Kyle Ashworth, who replaced Tsang after he stepped down, did not take action based on the allegations, the anonymous source claimed.

Ashworth, who served from May 3, 2019, to May 21, 2019, said in an email that he and the rest of the Elections Council operated under “extraordinary time constraints” while working to certify elections last year.

Ashworth said he had assumed that Tsang had previously investigated the allegations.

“The only way I was going to have any chance at completing my job was to assume any emails containing allegations that had already been sent and opened by the previous prosecutor had already been looked into,” Ashworth said in the email.

Ashworth also added in the email that ASUC election bylaws are very dense and written in legalese, meaning it can be hard for both candidates and campaign volunteers to understand them.

Additionally, if any campaign volunteer commits a bylaw violation, it is considered legally the same as a candidate committing the violation themselves, according to Ashworth.

“This means we get the worst of both worlds where essentially every candidate and party could get disqualified every election cycle if fully prosecuted,” Ashworth said in his email. “The ability of Election Prosecutors to have discretion and offer plea deals slightly alleviates the situation, but I believe that a greater overhaul is needed.”

He also noted that the council had a limited number of days to investigate cases.

According to ASUC bylaws on enforcement, a case can now only be pursued by the ASUC Elections and Judicial councils if the alleged violations were not known about prior to tabulations and could have impacted the current election cycle.

The anonymous source has not sent these allegations to the current elections prosecutor, but did submit other allegations concerning the 2020 election.

Sebastian Cahill is the lead student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.