College Democrat Candidate Disavows E-Mail
Reed’s friend, John F. Bash ’03, sent two e-mails plugging Reed’s candidacy.
He sent one to the Undergraduate Council general list—which has about 150 subscribers—and one to a separate list of addresses, asking that recipients join the College Democrats, regardless “of any political affiliation.”
Soon after Bash sent the e-mails, Reed issued an apology over the council list. He stated that he did not support non-Democrats joining the organization simply to vote in the election, nor did he approve of Bash’s e-mail.
“While I appreciate John Bash’s efforts on my behalf, I did not authorize the e-mail that he sent out,” Reed wrote. “Furthermore, I do not support, in any form, non-Democrats joining the organization for the purpose of taking part in the election.”
This past week’s Democratic electoral controversy is similar to a scandal that hit Republicans last year.
During last December’s Harvard Republican Club elections, presidential candidate Robert R. Porter ’00-’02 and vice presidential candidate Erin L. Sheley ’02 encouraged non-Republicans to join the club for the purpose of voting. Club members said that others had also employed the same strategy.
Republican Club membership increased from 75 to 101 in the week before the election last year.
Porter said his message was only directed at those similar political persuasions. Shely later called her tactics “inappropriate.”
For his part, Reed said he was sorry this year’s Democratic controversy ever arose.
“The entire situation surrounding John’s e-mail is a misunderstanding and a miscommunication,” Reed said. “John is one of my good friends—the e-mail was merely misdirected and inappropriate.”
Bash said the e-mail was sent with the best of intentions.
“Geoff had no prior knowledge of the e-mail before it was sent,” he said. “I wanted to let people know about the election, if they were Democrats. Additionally, Harvard’s anti-discrimination policy does state that a recognized club such as the Harvard College Democrats must not prohibit anyone from joining.”
Sonia H. Kastner ’03, Reed’s opponent in the College Dems presidential race, said she was “disturbed” when she found out about the e-mail.
“Much of the information in it was incorrect,” she said. “Non-Democrats are not free to join the club because the club constitution states that members must not only pay dues but that they must also have the best interests of the party and the club at heart.”
“While I know that Geoff retracted the request for students to join the club on his behalf, I was still bothered by the fact that Bash, a Republican, was trying to manipulate the Democrats’ election from the outside,” she added.
Kastner said, however, that she did not expect the e-mail to affect the outcome of the election.
Marcie B. Bianco ’02, the current Harvard College Democrats president, wrote to the council general list following Bash’s message.
“You must be a Democrat—a dues-paying one—to vote,” she wrote.
Bianco decried any attempts to influence the election.
“I think it’s pathetic that someone would want to join an organization just to vote in an election,” she said in an interview.
“It won’t have any effect on the election—John is separate from the College Democrats and he has no bearing on them,” Bianco said.