ASUC Approves Campaign Spending Bill

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In response to student outcry for campaign finance reform, the ASUC Senate passed a bill Wednesday that requires candidates to set self-determined spending limits.

The bill, introduced one week before the kickoff of campaign season, is the product of a year's worth of debate. During the ASUC elections last spring, the student body approved a proposition to institute self-determined campaign spending boundaries.

But senators said Wednesday they only passed the bill to prevent the ASUC elections and judicial councils from having to take action. Because students voted for reform, if the ASUC had not followed through, either the elections council or the judicial council would have been forced to intervene.

According to the measure, executive candidates must set and abide by self-determined spending limits that will be published in the ASUC Voter's Guide.

Although campaign financing is often a hard issue to monitor, some reform is better than none, said Todd Dipaola, the bill's author.

"It's an imperfect art, but it's better than the policies we have in place now," he said.

Dipaola added that self-determined limits will allow more flexibility for candidates.

"The reason I made my campaign limits self-determined was to give people freedom to run their elections the way they want to but at the same time have public accountability," he said.

Concurrent with the bill's passage, Senator Kevin Sabet announced he had acquired 1,103 student signatures to put a proposition on the spring ballot that would create spending limits for both executive candidates and senators.

"Unfortunately, some people don't see the true intent of the amendment, which is to open up the doors of the ASUC and widen accessibility," Sabet said. "Her majesty, the students have spoken and they refused to get caught up in petty ASUC politics."

Sabet, who opposed the measure to force students to set self-determined spending limits, said the bill will do little to reform campaign financing.

"I think the bylaws don't have any teeth for real progress because the amount is voluntary - the loopholes are outrageous," Sabet said. "Money isn't the only determiner of elections, but it's a part of it."

Critics argued that both campaign reform measures would inherently benefit large political parties.

"The self-determined campaign spending limit is self-defeating," said Peter Huang, who presided over the meeting in place of the ASUC executive vice president. "For independents that have no idea what ASUC elections are like, they won't know that the spending limit they set beforehand will screw them in the back end."

Huang also said Sabet's proposition favored established political parties.

"I think (it) puts too much power in the hands of the party," Huang said.

ASUC President Patrick Campbell, who supported both measures, said finance reform would equally impact candidates.

"The basic assumption that this is going to benefit parties is that parties are already spending less than these caps - that basic assumption is false," Campbell said.


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