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Protests Filed With Federal Government Over Re-Election of SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris

Gabrielle Carteris SAG President
Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Several protests have been filed with the federal government over the re-election of Gabrielle Carteris to the SAG-AFTRA presidency in August.

Carteris won the contest handily to remain as top elected officer of the performers union with 13,537 votes, or 44% of ballots cast, compared to 10,682 for Matthew Modine; 5,048 for Jane Austin; 1,096 for Queen Alljahye Searles and 367 for Abraham Justice. SAG-AFTRA’s national election committee denied all 14 protests on Oct. 8.

Los Angeles board member Brian Hamilton confirmed Thursday to Variety that he had met for several hours with investigator Troy Krouse of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards in the agency’s Los Angeles. “He said my protest was very interesting,” Hamilton added.

Hamilton is alleging in his complaint that the two August airings of the Fox series “BH90210,” in which Carteris starred as the president of a fictional actors union, amounted to “a not-so-subtle national commercial” for the Carteris campaign. The series is a reboot of the original “Beverly Hills 90210,” in which Carteris played a high school newspaper editor Andrea Zuckerman.

Carteris is also one of the executive producers of “BH90210” and goes by the name “Gabrielle” in the series. She portrays the president of the fictional “Actors Guild of America.” Ballots went out in late July and had to be returned by Aug. 28. Hamilton said the airings on Aug. 7 and 14 mean that Carteris was given a nationwide primetime broadcast TV ad by Fox.

U.S. labor rules in Title IV Section (g) of the Labor-Management Reporting & Disclosure Act say: “No moneys of an employer shall be contributed or applied to promote the candidacy of any person in an election subject to the provisions of this title.”

But the SAG-AFTRA committee said the accusation was without merit: “There is nothing that occurs on the series that can even remotely be considered to be promoting Carteris’ candidacy. A fictionalized reference to an incumbent candidate’s union position in the context of a dramatic television series, standing alone, simply does not violate Section 401(g)” of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

Hamilton also asserted that Carteris received “preferential treatment” from the union when she took credit in her candidate’s statement for a new deal with Netflix since that deal was not approved until several weeks after candidates’ statements were due in June.

Adam Nelson, Modine’s campaign manager and a SAG-AFTRA member, confirmed that he plans to meet with Labor Department investigators.

The protests could lead to the government declaring the election invalid, therebyy requiring that a new election be conducted under Labor Department supervision. In 2001, the department overturned the election of Melissa Gilbert as SAG President following a protest by Valerie Harper. Gilbert won the re-run over Harper. The news about the filing of the protests was first reported by Deadline.