The U.S. Dept. of Labor has turned down a request that Alan Rosenberg’s election as SAG president and Connie Stevens as secretary-treasurer be set aside due to allegedly illegal use of emails.
The feds notified the guild of the ruling this week, four months after SAG members Sam Freed, Paul Christie and Eileen Henry alleged Rosenberg’s winning Membership First faction inappropriately used 17,000 email addresses in last year’s campaign.
Guild’s election rules allow for emailing the membership via payment to an independent third party that has secure access to members’ personal information, including email addresses. The complaint alleged that Membership First rep Mark Carlton — who holds a seat on the Hollywood board — possesses a substantial list of member information, including Social Security numbers, that has been collected illegally.
Carlton has denied the allegations repeatedly, saying the list in question has no SAG members or email addresses.
Christie, Freed and Henry also asserted that Rosenberg — who defeated Morgan Fairchild and Robert Conrad in September following a contentious campaign — and his allies had attempted to cover up the violations.
In a statement issued Thursday, Rosenberg said of the Labor Dept.’s decision, “This puts to rest any rumors or claims about the election and vindicates those who were wrongly accused of having done something wrong.”
He also urged SAG members to stop feuding. “There is nothing more important than the collective success of working performers,” he said. “To be successful, we must be committed and united, because with unity comes strength.”
The use of the 17,000 email addresses has been the source of internal feuding since 2003, when emails were sent out to those members by a nonmember urging a vote against a proposed SAG-AFTRA merger. Guild spent more than $2 million campaigning for the combo, which was narrowly defeated.
SAG subsequently filed a federal lawsuit in 2004 against makeup artist John Vulich, alleging fraud, libel and seven other causes of action, after the Labor Dept. declined to take action on the complaint. Membership First said at the time that the email campaign wasn’t illegal and had had negligible influence on the referendum’s ultimate defeat.
Christie said Thursday he hadn’t seen the ruling but stressed that the Membership First list of email addresses should be examined by an independent third party. “The members have a right to know if they have their email addresses and how they acquired them,” he added.