DCD acknowledges it used info collected last year in recent student election, denies any wrongdoing
Officials from Davis College Democrats (DCD) have refuted recent allegations that the group used student contact information in an inappropriate manner to campaign for the BASED slate in the 2019 ASUCD Winter Elections.
The California Aggie recently reported an allegation that DCD had collected the contact information for over 800 students for the purpose of sending out text notifications to remind students to vote on Measure J, the Nishi housing project, on the June Ballot last year. An anonymous source, whose accusations were published by The Aggie last week, alleged that DCD had used this information to campaign for the BASED slate, sending out text messages promoting DCD’s endorsement of BASED.
A statement sent from DCD written by its executive board denied any and all wrongdoing.
The use of this information for campaigning efforts did not violate the ASCUD Bylaws or the constitution and the case is now outside of ASUCD’s purview, having been referred to Student Judicial Affairs, according to Elections Committee Chair Rodney Tompkins.
The DCD statement did, however, refute the claim that DCD broke “any election laws or used student information inappropriately.” The statement was written by DCD President Maiya de la Rosa, Executive Director Aaron Latta, Director of Political Affairs Emily Jones, Director of Membership Alex Meyer and Director of Finance Kevin Rotenkolber.
“To support our endorsements we campaigned on our social media accounts, passed out over 2,000 flyers and made 406 texts to student voters,” the statement read. “Our efforts followed all relevant campus, local, state, and federal election laws.”
The statement also clarified via email that the database used to store student contact information is not solely DCD’s, but belongs to the Student Voter Coalition. Additionally, the statement said that voter information was shared between ASUCD, DCD, the group “Yes on J” and others.
The anonymous source alleged students put their contact information on a pledge card under the impression that this information would be used solely in the sending of reminders to vote on Measure J. DCD’s statement, however, disagreed.
“By putting their student information on the pledge card, student voters were consenting to giving their information to all members of the Student Voter Coalition,” the statement said. “The pledge card does not say that this information is exclusively for use in support of Yes on J or that it would not be used in elections after June 5th 2018.”
DCD’s statement also said that while those groups sharing access to the database “signed onto a non-legally binding Memorandum of Understanding to register student voters.”
A copy of the MOU, sent to The Aggie by DCD officials, explicitly states that “the pledge cards will serve as a means for campaigns to contact students, reminding them to submit their ballots.
“All Coalition partners agree to allow other partner groups have access to such information, noting that any further communication done in the non-partisan spirit of the coalition partnership,” the MOU states. “Furthermore, Coalition Partners agree not to share the data with any other groups outside of the Coalition Partnership.”
DCD officials said the MOU expired on June 5 and, after its expiration, all of the organizations were then allowed “to use the database for any legal purpose.”
The anonymous source had also alleged that Justin Hurst and Shreya Deshpande, who ran on the BASED slate and were elected ASUCD’s newest president and vice president, respectively, just last week, had knowledge of DCD’s use of student contact information collected last year for campaign-related purposes.
Deshpande responded to a request for comment on the situation on behalf of herself and Hurst, stating via email that all of the clarification needed in this case can be found in this response from DCD.
“DCD has clarified the issue and Justin and I have no further comments,” Deshpande said.
The DCD statement emphasized DCD’s compliance with all relevant laws.
“The Davis College Democrats’ actions in support of BASED are no different from those of any other political campaign operating in this country,” the statement said. “The simple fact is that DCD’s actions over this election cycle are compliant with all campus, state, and federal laws and policies.”
Written by: Hannah Holzer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article stated that DCD did not deny the majority of The Aggie’s original account. This is incorrect. DCD denied any wrongdoing associated with campaign efforts. The Aggie regrets the error.