Remaining 2 USAC representatives sworn in following campaign violation investigation
Undergraduate Students Association Judicial Board Chief Justice Jamail Gibbs swore in general representatives 2 and 3, Orion Smedley and Brandon Broukhim, respectively, at a council meeting Tuesday. The swearing in was delayed after it was found that Smedley committed an election code violation. (Kanishka Mehra/Assistant Photo editor)
Nov. 19, 2019 11:51 p.m.
This post was updated Nov. 20 at 12:07 a.m.
The final two Undergraduate Students Association Council seats were filled Tuesday, despite a ruling that one newly elected official violated election campaign rules.
The Undergraduate Students Association Judicial Board conducted a six-day-long investigation in which it found General Representative 2 Orion Smedley violated campaign rules by campaigning on the Hill.
Smedley was accused of posting campaign materials on the Hill and distributing material near De Neve Plaza. Although Smedley did post campaign material in a residential hall, he was given permission from a front desk official after asking if he could. Furthermore, it was found that Smedley was simply exchanging information near De Neve Plaza, and not campaigning.
Smedley was elected general representative 2, alongside General Representative 3 Brandon Broukhim and Financial Services Commissioner Millen Srivastava, after the fall special election, which was hosted because of a lack of candidates in USAC’s spring election.
Judicial Board Chief Justice Jamail Gibbs decided not to swear in the two newly elected general representatives at a Nov. 5 council meeting in order to allow the allegations against Smedley to be properly investigated.
On Nov. 6, USAC President Robert Watson filed a petition to investigate allegations against Smedley.
Typically, the election board would conduct an investigation into the allegations. However, because there was only one member of the election board at the time the petition was submitted, the judicial board took over the investigation proceedings and summoned five witnesses to provide evidence.
The three other election board members, including then-USAC Election Board Chair Kyana Shajari, resigned during the Nov. 5 meeting for reasons largely unrelated to the allegations against Smedley.
The judicial board spoke with witnesses Watson, Smedley, Shajari, General Representative 1 Eduardo Velazquez and Matthew Richard, a former general representative candidate.
At the council’s Tuesday meeting, Gibbs announced the board’s decision.
The judicial board’s two-part ruling decided that although Smedley violated campaign rules, he was misinformed by both the former election board chair and a Residential Life official about his ability to campaign on the Hill. Additionally, the judicial board found outdated resources about election rules on the current election board website.
As a result, Smedley will not receive a penalty or sanction for the violation.
Gibbs, who spoke with the Daily Bruin after his presentation to the council, said the on-campus housing regulations posted on the USAC election board website contain outdated information that said USAC candidates were allowed to campaign on the Hill, despite the election code prohibiting doing so.
On the USAC election board website, it states that the on-campus housing regulations allow undergraduate student representatives to campaign on the Hill. This outdated information directly contradicts the information posted on the current housing regulations posted on a Residential Life website which states that campaigning activities are limited to residential student government campaigning only.
While breaking down the board’s decision to the council, Gibbs recommended the outdated links be taken down.
Gibbs was not sure how long the outdated information had been posted on the USAC website. However, he said, in his opinion, Smedley may not have had the knowledge about campaigning restrictions since he was not previously involved with USAC.
“(Most individuals who run USAC campaigns) just know that by being in the circle, that’s just something that you don’t do, whereas (Smedley) is someone who has no prior experience, and thus wasn’t privy to that information that I imagine others would be,” Gibbs said.
The alleged violation was termed “egregious” by several council members during the Nov. 5 meeting. The council went on to amend a bylaw, allowing the judicial board to selectively swear in elected candidates. This allowed for newly elected Srivastava to be sworn in while Smedley and Broukhim awaited the judicial board’s decision.
Now that Smedley is on the council, he said he will continue to push for the items he campaigned for and added he hopes this serves as a learning experience for future elections.
“I think … through this process, I learned about this process, and I also learned that, as we discussed in council, we probably want to make edits to the (election) code to make it so that something like this doesn’t happen again,” Smedley said.
Broukhim said he had a great first council meeting and looks forward to working with his office.
“We’re ready to get to work,” Broukhim said.