Campus paper rebukes the candidates it endorsed after Facebook leak
UCLA’s progressive political party had a bad week.
Not only did LET’S ACT get crushed in last week’s student government election, but it’s under investigation for leaked documents suggesting that it sold alcohol and marijuana to raise money for its past two campaigns.
Days before the vote, UCLA’s student government voted unanimously to look into the allegations against the party, which also include impermissibly using student fees for campaigns.
Bruins United, which ran on a platform of “fiscal responsibility, leadership, and equal access” to student government funds, will dominate the next student government.
One of the three elected LET’S ACT candidates implied in a speech on election night that the party wouldn’t recognize Bruins United’s Heather Rosen – elected with 60 percent of the vote – as president, the Daily Bruin reported.
LET’S ACT also accused a Bruins United candidate, Ruhi Patil, of “homophobia” for making a video that parodied her self-identified queer opponent, as The College Fix previously reported. Patil won her campaign.
LET’S ‘overthrow’ the Community Programs Office
The progressive party has bigger problems to worry about than its poor showing at the polls.
The allegations about its alcohol and marijuana sales and improper use of student fees emerged from “dozens of documents leaked on Facebook” just “hours after campaigning began” last week, the Daily reported.
The newspaper said documents suggest the party “solicited money from students groups in return for representation in the slate” – essentially selling off spots to different ethnic and sexual orientation caucuses – though that’s not clear from the document cache.
One particularly explosive and expletive-laden document marked “privileged info” appears to show LET’S ACT! planning a coup against the student leader of the university’s Community Programs Office, Tony Sandoval.
It uses words such as “overthrow” and “infiltrate” to describe what must be done to change the office, referring to Sandoval as a “puppeteer” and “dictator” who undermines “underrepresented communities” at UCLA.
“At the end of the day, fuck Tony Sandoval and this fuck shit CPO he has created,” it concludes.
Campaign manager Kristine de los Santos told the Daily Bruin she believed someone obtained authentic LET’S ACT documents and then edited them with false information.
But de los Santos couldn’t produce an original version of one allegedly doctored document, which said the slate used student fees for the campaign, a direct violation of election rules.
External Vice President Conrad Contreras confirmed the authenticity of some leaked documents while telling the Daily that “it seems like there are some that are added.”
The party chairs said in a Facebook post after the Daily report that the documents were not an “accurate depiction” of the slate’s “campaign finances, core values, or goals,” but didn’t explicitly claim they had been altered, as officials earlier suggested.
The slate released what it said were its actual “campaign expenditures.”
Get your ‘blunts’ here and ‘Love Always!’
The plot thickened when the Daily reported the following day that Facebook posts appeared to show LET’S ACT members were selling “jungle juice,” “shots” and “blunts” at a January party hosted by candidate Jaimeson Cortez.
On the party event page, Cortez himself made more than one reference to drugs and alcohol for sale, saying in one post: “$1 jungle juice $1 shots $5 40oz $20 blunts.”
After the article was published, Cortez posted on Facebook: “Shoutout to Daily Bruin for at least using a nice picture of me. It’s time to #DecriminalizeIt y’all*”
Shortly afterward, the publicly viewable event page disappeared.
Though LET’S ACT officials said the party had no connection to the pending campaign, the event page included several unambiguous references to the slate.
One student affiliated with the slate posted: “Had fun tonight. Expect more … coming soon. Never forget to Act on your thirst.” The page description also mentions “coalition-building” as a purpose of the party, and included the slogan “Love Always!” – a phrase also used throughout the leaked documents.
‘If one allegation is true’
The student body president, a LET’S ACT member, resigned halfway through his term, while the slate’s presidential candidate this cycle was “one of the most vocal questioners” in the “anti-Semitic line of questioning” against Jewish student Rachel Beyda at a confirmation hearing, the editorial said.
Cortez’s Facebook post about the party “gives the student body and this board enough reason to believe this allegation [about alcohol and marijuana sales] is true,” the editorial said. “And if one allegation found in the documents is true, what’s to stop students from believing the slate used student fees to fund its campaigns?”
Columnist Aram Ghoogasian said the leaked documents were responsible for “causing members to lose races they seemed almost guaranteed to win.”
Cortez’s post “was enough proof for us to assume those allegations were real – it’s not a stretch to assume that the student fee allegations were true too,” the columnist wrote.
The alleged shenanigans are enough reason for Bruins United, the majority party, to reform election procedures and audit spending for future races, Ghoogasian said.
College Fix reporter Jacob Kohlhepp is a student at UCLA and vice president of the Bruin Republicans.
IMAGES: LET’S ACT!, Facebook screenshots