Home News In Brief Gonzales-Castillo withdraw from Student Government following staffing controversies

Gonzales-Castillo withdraw from Student Government following staffing controversies

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Presidential candidate Matthew Gonzales and vice presidential candidate Alison Castillo dropped out of the 2019-20 Student Government race Feb. 5
Presidential candidate Matthew Gonzales and vice presidential candidate Alison Castillo
dropped out of the 2019-20 Student Government race Feb. 5

Photo by Jaden Edison

Student Government presidential candidate Matthew Gonzales and vice presidential candidate Alison Castillo have dropped out of the week-old race, according to Election Board Chairman Joshua Clarke.

Both current Student Government cabinet members, Gonzales-Castillo’s #ItsTimeTo platform aimed to support underrepresented students and student workers. However, the campaign met obstacles when former campaign manager Spencer Lewis took to Twitter to express his dissent with the campaign.

Lewis was dismissed from the position Feb. 2 after tweeting out deletirous comments against the Election Board’s precedural error that caused the Benbow-Thompason campaign to escape a ruling on alleged campaign violations.

 

“We faced some pretty harsh criticism from Lewis,” Gonzales said in an interview with The University Star. “Spencer wasn’t going to stop until we drop out. We thought it would be better for Student Government as an organization not to be dragged in the mud – we didn’t want more scandals.”

Following his dismissal, Lewis alleged Gonzales was collaborating with him to get the Benbow-Thompson campaign disqualified.

In a thread, Lewis claims Gonzales asked him to politically attack Benbow and appeal the case. He also alleged Gonzales abuses power by hiding dealings from Castillo.

 

 

An hour and a half after the initial tweets, Lewis released a series of recorded phone calls between himself and Gonzales. During one of the calls, Lewis and Gonzales discuss appointing current Associate Justice Ashlyn Scott as Chief Justice, saying she’ll “stick to the rules 100 percent.” Afterward, Lewis asks Gonzales if this appointment will help them get rid of the Benbow-Thompson campaign, to which Gonzales replies “100 percent.” The Star is currently working to obtain the full recorded phone calls.

 

 

Following the leak of the calls on Twitter, senators and students called on the campaign to resign from the race, according to replacement campaign manager Kaiti Evans.

The Gonzales-Castillo campaign released a statement via Twitter regarding the allegations:

 

 

In a Feb. 3 interview with The Star, Gonzales said the whole incident was coercive and he didn’t know he was being recorded at the time.

“Our conversations were more than these 45 seconds,” Gonzales said. “He was asking me a lot of leading questions. This is something that was planned, it was too convenient.”

According to Gonzales, Lewis was tipped off by his fraternity brothers about Benbow-Thompson’s early campaigning and still filled an election code violation claim with Election Board Chairman Joshua Clark despite Gonzales telling Lewis not to file a claim.

“The claim was filed under his name so we had to support him,” Gonzales said. “We thought he had our best interest at heart but we know he didn’t.”

In regards to the appointment of Scott as Supreme Court Chief Justice, Gonzales said he was fulfilling his duty as chief of staff under now-resigned President Ruben Becerra Jr. According to Gonzales, Scott was confirmed by the Graduate House on Friday but has yet to be sworn in.

The Star will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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