Mistake centers on campaign email

The rerun of the Screen Actors Guild’s election is already in trouble, thanks to another goof by SAG’s staff.

The flub came when guild staff cleared a campaign email, authored by 1st VP Mike Farrell, to be sent to thousands of guild members on Sunday even though election rules allow only for candidates to send emails.

SAG had no comment, but the apparent misinterpretation of the email rules could open the rerun to challenges. Ballots were sent Monday and are due back by March 8.

Rerun, which covers 10 candidates for president, secretary and treasurer, was ordered by SAG’s elections committee as a result of violations last fall by guild staff and Sequoia Voting Systems.

SAG’s national board decided last month to replace the elections committee, whose members are barred from being candidates. That move made the rerun a separate election since five of the six new committee members were candidates in the fall election.

The emails — sent out at a cost of 8ยข per name — contained the disclaimer that SAG is obligated to provide candidates with the opportunity to send such messages. “The following has been prepared by the candidate(s) and is not endorsed or reviewed by the guild in any manner,” it also said.

Farrell, who won his post in November, backed Melissa Gilbert for president, Kevin Kilner for secretary and Amy Aquino for treasurer in the email. He also blasted the committee’s rerun decision as “pathetic” and called the violations “technical flaws” and attacked presidential candidate Valerie Harper and running mates Elliott Gould (secretary) and Kent McCord (treasurer) for challenging the election.

Farrell and four other members have appealed the committee’s rerun decision to the Dept. of Labor but no action is expected before the rerun is completed.

SAG sent out ballots to paid-up members Monday as Harper made campaign appearances in Los Angeles. She admitted that she had made a mistake in spurning Gilbert’s invitation to debate last summer.

Harper remained critical of Gilbert’s support of loosening ownership restriction on talent agencies and insisted she opposes compromise on that issue. In a KTLA interview, she said Gilbert “seems to be very much looking after the interests of agents, producers and Canadians.”

SAG’s master franchise agreement has been informally extended since its Jan. 21 expiration. The guild released a statement Monday saying its negotiating committee, which includes Gilbert, was “arduously” working but gave no indication of possible progress.

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