Monday, November 18

Leaked documents allege illegal campaign fundraising by LET’S ACT!

An anonymous Facebook user leaked dozens of documents that allegedly detail the 2013 and 2014 campaigns of the LET'S ACT! undergraduate student government slate. (Daily Bruin file photo)

An anonymous Facebook user leaked dozens of documents that allegedly detail the 2013 and 2014 campaigns of the LET'S ACT! undergraduate student government slate. (Daily Bruin file photo)

This post was updated on April 28 at 2:43 a.m.

Dozens of documents leaked on Facebook Monday allege that members of the undergraduate student government LET’S ACT! slate illegally spent student fee funds on its past two campaigns, sold alcohol and marijuana to raise campaign revenue and solicited money from student groups in return for representation in the slate.

The documents, released hours after campaigning began for this year’s Undergraduate Students Association Council election, also alleged that LET’S ACT! plotted to take control over departments in the Community Programs Office, which houses some student retention and access programs.

LET’S ACT! campaign manager Kristine de los Santos denies the slate sold marijuana and alcohol and held any parties, but did not deny that some of the files originated from LET’S ACT! documents. The second-year political science student said she thinks whoever uploaded the files copied and pasted LET’S ACT! documents and then edited them.

She also denies that LET’S ACT! used student fees to fund its campaigns, claiming the anonymous user added that line. When asked for a copy of the original document, however, de los Santos said it might have been deleted.

“I feel as if (the anonymous user) is trying to divide people of solidarity on campus,” she said.

USAC External Vice President and LET’S ACT! member Conrad Contreras denied allegations that the slate fundraised using money from student fees last year, but verified some of the documents.

“There are a lot of documents that aren’t accurate,” Contreras said. “I’ve seen some before and they’re very much real, but it seems like there are some that are added.”

LET’S ACT! plans to release a statement in response to the documents in the next few hours, Contreras added.

Several current and former LET’S ACT! members could not be reached for comment. Former USAC President Devin Murphy, who ran with LET’S ACT! last year, and former LET’S ACT! campaign manager Tyler Cherry declined to comment.

An anonymous Facebook user named “Let’s Act” posted the documents in several folders on the USAC Election Board’s Facebook page Monday afternoon.

The files appear to include minutes and notes from meetings about LET’S ACT! campaign plans from the past two USAC election cycles.

One document outlined what appeared to be the slate’s budget for the 2014 USAC election, which included a “Margarita Monday” fundraiser and multiple parties as revenue items. The document also included an expense item labeled “edibles” that cost $100.

Documents anonymously posted to the USAC Election Board’s Facebook page Monday afternoon allege illegal campaign fundraising from the LET’S ACT! slate during the past two election cycles.

Another document appeared to show slate fundraising for 2015, listing parties, TV taping, alumni and candidate contributions and “contingency” as sources. De los Santos said she had never seen this document before.

According to a document titled “LA! Coalition Meeting Nov. 17, 2014,” some slate members allegedly discussed fundraising through parties, the sale of marijuana and Student Government Accounting Services, the USAC External Vice President’s Travel Grant and USAC discretionary funds. Candidates are not allowed to spend university funds raised from mandatory student fees in USAC campaigns.

Also in the folder were two documents expressing hostile dissatisfaction with the Community Programs Office and calling for the “overthrow” of its director, Antonio Sandoval. The documents claim that appointments and elections for CPO positions are not transparent and reserved for students close to Sandoval.

Last year, students from groups affiliated with CPO created the FIRED UP! slate in what many say was a split from the LET’S ACT! slate.

The files also include what appears to be the structure of the LET’S ACT! slate that outlines 15 caucuses representing different demographics of students, including queer, transfer, international and undocumented students and students of various races. One document alleges that each caucus can submit candidates to run for LET’S ACT! in the overall USAC election.

Neither the anonymous Facebook user nor Sandoval could be reached for comment.

Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed, the current USAC transfer representative who ran with LET’S ACT! in the spring 2014 election, said LET’S ACT! candidates focus on grassroots funding by using their own money and asking for donations from family, friends and past candidates.

“To be honest with you, I have never seen anything like this before,” Sadeghi-Movahed said. “It seems like publishing these documents was meant to be malicious in intent.”

Jaimeson Cortez, a current LET’S ACT! general representative candidate, said he has been involved with the slate since his first year and he thinks the allegations are baseless.

“It’s unfortunate and (the post) damages the reputation of USAC and the Election Board,” said Cortez, a third-year political science student.

De los Santos and fellow LET’S ACT! campaign manager Bria Stuart posted a statement on the LET’S ACT! Facebook page Monday night describing the leak as an effort to unfairly damage the slate’s reputation.

The statement linked to a document containing what de los Santos and Stuart said were the slate’s actual 2015 campaign funding sources, which they said came only from candidates, friends and family members.

In a joint statement released Monday night, the leaders of Queer Alliance at UCLA, MEChA de UCLA, the Afrikan Student Union and Samahang Pilipino said they neither condone nor agree with the alleged campaign practices of LET’S ACT! leaders as stated in the leaked documents. They added that they plan to investigate the allegations.

UCLA spokesman Tod Tamberg said the university cannot comment on the documents because they have not been verified. He added he thinks the Election Board should handle this issue because it is related to the USAC election.

Election Board Chair Shagun Kabra said the board is not currently planning any sanctions against LET’S ACT! Kabra said the person who posted the documents needs to come forward to be verified before the board can launch any investigations.

Until this year’s election, the Election Board has not required USAC candidates to disclose their campaign funding sources. This year’s LET’S ACT! candidates have reported only donations from family and friends as their source of campaign funding.

Contributing reports by Rupan Bharanidaran, Bruin contributor.

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  • Ashley

    Well I guess now I know who to go to if I ever need any weed….

  • Benjamin Gelbart

    This is super sad actually. Now I have no reason to doubt my support for Bruins United.

    • Letsnotforget

      Except the fact that they get their funding from an Islamophobe, not “Margarita Monday.” Which is worse to you?

      • RB

        Selling marijauna isn’t legal in this context, clearly…I’d rather go with people who get their funds through methods that aren’t criminal. Marijuana may be acceptable in California more than in other places, but a willingness to break laws to get elected to USACshows a massive lack of rationality and demonstrates how irresponsible these people are. For a slate who talks constantly about their difficult paths to get to UCLA, they sure were easily willing to risk their freedom and education for power.

      • EYJ

        Just because Bruins United got some of their campaign funding from Pro-Israelis, that does NOT mean they got it from an “Islamophobe”. so get your facts straight. And at least what they did was not ILLEGAL in the state of California..

      • Benjamin Gelbart

        You are one of those people who loosely throws around the word Islamophobe. I like to see the glass half full. Somebody who sees through your style of bullshit.

  • UCLAGuest

    Ummm if there is even a possibility they used student funds for their election shouldn’t the slate be sanctioned or punished???? Seriously no investigation? What about whistle blower protections? I can’t believe these people are even up for election.

    • Letsnotforget

      There obviously is no real evidence aside from a stupid Google doc to suggest this. Find the real documents, and then we can take that stupid claim seriously.

      • UCLAGuest

        they have tons of documents with phone banking…. pretty scary

        • Letsnotforget

          BU phonebanks???

          • EYJ

            find that and then we’ll talk?

          • RB

            When BU was targeted by the DB last year about funding leaks, many of us asked where the investigation was into Let’s Act….maybe this is just that coming back to bite them now since the DB failed to investigate before. BU has been the subject of scrutiny plenty, but considering a lack of evidence of illegal activity just as a baseline for bad behavior, trying to point the finger elsewhere is just ridiculous. Want to call out BU? Fine, but find some evidence, and if you’d like to have a leg to stand on get your own house in order first.

  • Isaac

    Many of us are thousands of dollars in student loan debt. How does it feel to have that money going to LA’s corruption? I hope the university, law enforcement, or both, come down hard on them. Keep this in mind when you’re voting, people. It’s time for Spring cleaning.

    • Letsnotforget

      Find the actual proof that they used student fees, and then we’ll act accordingly.

      • Isaac

        I’ll get right on that, Negeen.

      • Ashley

        Negin, while Isaac tries goes and tries to prove you wrong, I suggest you realize what an embarrassment you were to the Transfer community this year. Forget your anti-Semitic comments…. but really?! you spent your meetings trying to figure out how to Impeach the USAC president??? is that really the job of the transfer rep? “Let’s way until he makes a bad comment and hand around a petition for impeachment” REALLY???? How is impeaching a president based solely on his religion going to do the transfer community ANY good?

  • Isaac

    It’s total BS that the elections board won’t even investigate simply because this was anonymous. This is an egregious violation and it needs to be investigated immediately. Everyone needs to get in contact with the local and national news.

    • Fernando Núñez

      This requires the world’s attention,I’ve already called the BBC and Radio France!

  • Mila

    I think it’s definitely possible someone forged certain documents to make Let’s Act look bad. But that’s true, an investigation would definitely help. I think it’s smart that the Election Board will wait until the person who posted the documents verifies them – this can be done anonymously.

  • Christopher

    You guys had four student journalists working on this story and still managed to present it in the most mundane way possible. You had abundant material and access to official sources yet failed to offer a clear perspective, much less insight. When you quote a subject and need to edit for tense, you put it in [brackets] not (parentheses). There are at least five typos, and while I understand the need to meet timely deadlines, you might consider investing in an AP Stylebook for your copyeditor(s). This paper sucks. This story could’ve been way cooler. I’m out.

    • bruin

      Just read through. What exactly are these typos you mention? Also, every newspaper follows its own set of style guidelines, which generally diverge from AP style in some ways. For example, the NYT uses “Mr. or Ms./Mrs.” when referencing sources. The Daily Bruin clearly follows its own style just like everyone else, so the parentheses are not a big deal.

  • Brooke

    So in the face of Nepal, police brutality on a national level, ISIS, fracking, Boko Haram, immigration reform, marriage equality, maquiladores, crime in the favelas, corruption in Washington, raising the minimum wage, the CA drought, national security, rape/sexual assault, mental health issues, suicides, PACS/Super PACS (Citizens United & the Koch Brothers), affirmative action, education reform, immunization, willful defiance, childhood obesity, food deserts, (cyber)bullying, the extinction of the middle class, social security, unemployment, pay gaps between males and females, legalization of marijuana, Planned Parenthood, genocide, the right to bear arms, free speech, financial literacy, literacy levels in general, GMOs, STIs/HIV/AIDS, ebola, breast/prostate/etc cancer, appropriation of culture, Yemen, North Korea, Cuba, NAFTA, gentrification, natural disasters and response time, insider trading, bureaucracy, Wal Mart, Target, all forms of pollution, gerrymandering, bribery, lack of socioeconomic mobility, FBI, CIA, DOJ, CONGRESS, (child) homelessness, sex/drug trafficking, Israel, Palestine, 2 state nation or lack thereof, right to privacy, health care, insurance, specifically the public education system, the privatization of public schools, access, affordability, diversity, racism, prejudice, discrimination, hate speech, xenophobia, sexism, war on drugs, war on poverty?, global warming, loss of wetlands, outsourcing, profiling, animals on the endangered species list, poaching, involuntary sterilization, gasoline prices. food prices, solar power, the ozone layer, public housing assistance, veterans of our nation, the prison industrial complex, weapons of mass destruction, Iran, Syria, capitalism, the right to life, etc (and please feel free to add to the list) you’re complaining about USAC, elections, Bruins United, Let’s Act, the CPO, and and anything else that happens from Kerckhoff to SAC? In the words of Ben Stein… WOW.

    *And for any comments to come… #letthecomplaintscriticismandwhateverelseyouhavetothrowatmebegin

    • EYJ

      well thanks for the list, but since you can’t personally help make any changes in most of the events mentioned, how about you help implement change within your own school. you talked about “corruption in washington”… since you can’t fix it for now, why don’t you help and stop it from happening in the future?? there is corruption in USAC and YOU have the power and fix that… like the UCLA logo, it all starts with U.

    • Are you kidding?

      Wow, you’ve convinced me. Why should a college student newspaper ever cover student government affairs? Our student journalists should earn their salaries by delivering hard-hitting reporting from war-torn countries or by crafting longform articles with nuanced explorations of complex national issues — and full multimedia treatment, of course.

      You should write to the Daily Bruin and threaten to cancel your subscription if things don’t change.

  • James Bruin

    Whether this is true or not, you can also open it in Word, and under the “Review”, select “All Markup” in Tracking and you’ll see who has edited the document/comments and what time it was done. You can also hover over the comment or click on it for more info if you have an older version of office. Pretty neat trick to see more in history. Here’s a screenshot to help illustrate! and the alleged documents

  • mathewsjw

    look up the Dirty Tricks of Halderman Ehrlichman (aka Nixon) in college, oops it started @ UCLA… history of corruption repeats so better follow these leftists/racists/muslims…