Election Mired in Scandal

Ben Prayada, vice president-elect ()

Ben Prayada, vice president-elect ()

Ariel Messman-Rucker

Controversy still surrounds the current president of the Associated Students of DVC and his backing of a coalition that dominated the executive board elections this month.

UAID swept seven of the 10 winning candidates into office, including President-elect Lindsay St. Hill. It also endorsed the winners of two other positions. UAID stands for “uniting ASDVC, ICC and DVC.”         

The ASDVC Elections Committee will decide today whether President Bundit Kertbundit’s endorsements and campaign activity on behalf of UAID candidates violated the student body elections code and constitution.

If so, the committee will also decide the punishment.

At an ASDVC meeting Tuesday, Kertbundit defended himself against allegations he misused his presidential power.

“I’m not here to prove who is right and who is wrong,” Kertbundit said. “I’ll be a man and I’ll stand up for what I did.”

Kertbundit denied having violated the constitution, but he admitted to violating a section of the elections code that prohibits non-coalition members from financially aiding a candidate or coalition.

He said he paid for campaign materials after being given money from UAID.

Kertbundit did not say how often he did this. But in a prior interview with The Inquirer, Anna Braginsky, chair of the election committee, said it happened multiple times. She said she realized Kertbundit was financially helping the UAID slate after discovering a receipt for campaign materials with his signature in the office they share.

“It’s his signature on the receipt, and the receipt was missing from their [expense] report,” she said.

Braginsky said that this discovery made her wonder “what else didn’t they report.”

At the meeting Kertbundit asked the Elections Committee for mercy, saying, “Please tread softly, for you are treading on my dreams.”

Braginsky then asked if anyone from the UAID collation wanted to speak.

St. Hill, who headed the UAID ticket, responded, “We won, because we worked very hard.”

Several board members raised the possibility of voiding the election results and holding a special election.

But Kertbundit adamantly disagreed, saying, “The students already voted, and I think we should respect that.”

Braginsky said a special election would be difficult, given the limited time remaining in the semester.

In an earlier interview with The Inquirer, Kertbundit admitted to additional financial transaction with UAID. He said he acquired a discount for the slate at Kinko’s through a friend who worked there. But he said UAID reported this discount and deducted its retail value, as required by the election code.

Asked by a reporter whether such a discount constituted a violation, Bill Oye, dean of student life, responded, “This language to me is pretty clear that you can’t provide financial assistance. Period.” 

Official complaints against Kertbundit and UAID were filed earlier this month by four defeated candidates, as well as public relations officer-elect I-Ting Cheng and Bambang Muliana, a student unaffiliated with student government.

One of the complainants, Young Jun Jang, a former presidential candidate,  made a formal presentation at an April 21 ASDVC meeting, stating that Kertbundit’s endorsement of UAID was unfair to his coalition, Make it Happen, and the other coalition, BIG (Bold, Interactive and Genuine).

He and other complainants accused Kertbundit of violating two elections code sections: 7.07, which says “Associated Students funded programs may not expend A.S. funds to endorse a candidate (including coalitions) or engage in an activity that is beneficial or detrimental to any candidate;” and 7.09, which prohibits “Associated Students funded organizations … from endorsing candidates, coalitions or recalls during the elections.”

Jang said the ASDVC president would be considered an “Associated Students funded organization,” since the ASDVC finances Kertbundit’s trips to represent DVC at statewide conferences and “because as president he represents everyone in ASDVC.”

But Oye disagreed with this logic at the meeting, saying “A program is generally a collective, a group of people working together.”

Jang also said that by endorsing UAID and participating in their campaign Kertbundit violated of the ASDVC Constitution.

The ASDVC president’s duties as prescribed by Section 3 article A.8 states that he is “an ex-officio member of all ASDVC Committees” which would include the Elections Committee.

And according to the list of “Election Committee Powers and Duties” as stated in the in the elections code, “The Committee shall not campaign in any election nor publicly support any candidate or cause in any election they are administering.”

While most of the focus at the April 21 ASDVC meeting was on Kertbundit, the members of UAID were also accused of violating Section 7 (7.04), which states, “Candidates are responsible for the actions of their campaign committee, whether authorized or not.”

“It is not only UAID’s responsibility not to accept endorsement from Bundit [Kertbundit], but it is also their responsibility to say no, to Bundit’s offer to actively campaign for UAID,” wrote DVC student Muliana in his complaint letter.