UCLA Israeli Regent-Designate Targeted by Palestinian Activists with Campaign Finance Allegations

UCLA Israeli Regent-Designate Targeted by Palestinian Activists with Campaign Finance Allegations

The UCLA Daily Bruin reports that the Students for Justice in Palestine, an anti-Israel group, is pursuing Avi Oved, the new student regent-designate nominee for the UC Board of Regents, who is pro-Israel, with allegations of incomplete campaign finance reports in 2013 when he campaigned for a position in UCLA’s undergraduate student government.

On Saturday, the University of California Student Association held an “emergency meeting” to discuss the charges, which were brought by Amal Ali, last year’s president of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Riverside. Ali asserted that in 2013, Oved and some other candidates running on the Bruins United slate emailed Adam Milstein, who donates to pro-Israel organizations, thanking him for offering financial support to their slate. Ali continued that Oved did not list any such donation when he filed his campaign finance reports.

Each of the eight candidates Bruins United ran in 2013 donated $300 to the campaign for the Undergraduate Students Association Council, supported by roughly $1,160 for each candidate from Bruins United’s own funds, derived from private donations and corporate sponsorship.

Ali pushed for an investigation as to whether Milstein may have donated money to Bruins United on behalf of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation. The foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, is prohibited by law from making political donations.

Yet the foundation’s IRS form 990-PF had no listing for any donation to the Bruins United campaign during the 2013 fiscal year – only $50,000 for the UCLA Foundation and $10,500 to Hillel at UCLA.

The USCA Election Code demands that USAC candidates and designated campaign representatives give completely accurate information when citing their expense accounts; if that is not the case, the candidates may be disqualified.

Oved said his response will be forthcoming. Ken Myers, a Bruins United chair in 2013, said he had no memory whether the Milstein Foundation gave a donation that year. USAC Internal Vice President Avinoam Baral, who was a Bruins United candidate for a general representative seat in 2013, and Raquel Saxe, a former Bruins United member and USAC Academic Affairs commissioner, both said they had no memory of such a donation.

Oved was elected USAC internal vice president for the 2013-2014 academic year and nominated by UC regents last month to be the nonvoting student regent-designate for 2014-2015 and as the student regent for 2015-2016. His nomination is scheduled to be confirmed by the UC Board of Regents in July.

Oved’s pro-Israel stance, which includes his USAC resolution last October to encourage a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stimulate investment in the area, has apparently infuriated the anti-Israel crowd, especially Students for Justice in Palestine. They have been focused in the 2013-2014 academic year on disinvestment in the state of Israel. Oved spoke out against the BDS resolution at USAC last February.

Some students on the UCSA Board of Directors who are against Oved claimed they were upset that he has mentioned his desire to be a member of  the UC Board of Regents’ Committee on Investments, because that committee has to consider resolutions such as the BDS resolution.

Abraham Galván Sánchez, vice president of external affairs for the Associated Students of UC Riverside who votes with the UCSA Board of Directors, said some members of the UCSA Board of Directors want the UC Board of Regents to postpone Oved’s confirmation, but others think the charges are spurious and Oved should be confirmed and that pursuing him could damage the relations between UCSA and Oved. Sánchez stated that UCSA wants to initiate a conference call with Oved soon to discuss the charges.