The Joint Election Committee will decide Monday on charges that executive vice presidential candidate Anyah Dembling did not provide a full account of campaign finances. The Hatchet learned late Sunday that a complaint alleges that Dembling paid for multiple College Democrats memberships so supporters could vote during the group’s endorsement hearings earlier this month.
The JEC General Counsel is investigating a complaint submitted by former executive vice presidential candidate Asher Corson and another student Thursday alleging that Dembling failed to declare the membership expenses to the JEC.
Dembling, who is set to compete in a run-off election against Ed Buckley later this week, declined to comment until the JEC makes its decision Monday afternoon. Corson finished in third place in the general election last week and did not qualify for the run-off.
“Obviously we’ll hear the case from the general counsel and make a recommendation,” said JEC member David Bratslavsky.
He said he is not aware of the extent of the possible penalties or whether the ruling would change the names on the run-off ballot.
The College Democrats held a Feb. 17 endorsement meeting where all students who had paid the group’s $5 membership fee by Feb. 10 could participate in a vote to endorse candidates. The group voted to endorse Dembling and ran an ad in The Hatchet during the election listing her along with all of the other candidates the group supported.
Corson said a personal friend told him that Dembling paid for the student’s College Democrats membership dues at least 10 days prior to the organization’s candidate endorsement hearings. Corson said he knows of at least two other students who also received membership dues from Dembling.
“People that are in these elections have a right to an equal playing field,” Corson said. “I really do feel like it’s an important issue … this is exactly the kind of thing people are tired of.”
Corson said he filed campaign finance charges because the JEC does not have pertinent bribery charges in its charter.
Bratslavsky said he is unsure whether there are rules against bribery in the Student Association ethics bylaws and whether the rules from SA bylaws can be used against candidates. He said if the JEC rules against Dembling she could appeal to the Student Court.
JEC Chair John Plack said he does not know what ramifications Dembling could face, but said she has no prior violations.
“In all honesty Anyah has been an honest candidate,” he said. “She’s given us no problems at all.”
Corson said he confronted Dembling about the issue last week, prior to filing the complaint Thursday. He said she indicated that the allegations were “hanging over her” but felt nothing would come of it. Dembling declined to comment on the conversation.
JEC General Counsel member Shaina Schallop, who is investigating the incident, also said she would not comment on the case.
College Democrats President Laila Hasan declined to comment on the specific allegations pending a JEC investigation but said the organization doesn’t question how members acquire the funds to pay the $5 fee.
“We aren’t going to turn anyone away from being a member if they are interested,” Hasan said. She said the CDs currently have 400 to 500 members, but only a “handful” turn in their membership fees in early February prior to endorsements. She also stood by the current endorsement process.
-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.