Labor Department Investigating Allegations Of Misconduct In Recent SAG-AFTRA Elections

SAG AFTRA U.S. Department Of Labor

EXCLUSIVE: Investigators at the U.S. Department of Labor are looking into a range of allegations of wrongdoing during and after the recent SAG-AFTRA elections. Brian Hamilton, a member of the union’s Los Angeles local’s board of directors, spent 2½ hours with DOL investigator Troy Krouse earlier this week detailing Hamilton’s charges.

“He’s a good listener and he’s a smart person,” Hamilton told Deadline about the Wednesday meeting. “He asked good questions and played a good devil’s advocate. It was like a deposition, of sorts.”

Hamilton, a founder of the Membership First opposition party, is one of 14 SAG-AFTRA members who filed charges with the union – all of which were dismissed by its national election committee. Having exhausted their internal remedies, he and several others are now taking their complaints to the DOL.

Hamilton’s charges are two-fold: that SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris received an in-kind campaign contribution from her employer on the Fox TV show BH90210, in which she played a fictionalized version of herself as the hardworking president of the fictitious “Actors Guild of America”; and that she used inside information about SAG-AFTRA’s new Netflix agreement to promote her candidacy.

BH90210, a reboot of Beverly Hills, 90210, premiered during the union’s election, but the election committee found that “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 of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

Hamilton also claims Carteris received “inside, preferential treatment” from the union when she devoted a third of her official candidate’s statement to the new deal she’d helped negotiate with Netflix – a deal that wasn’t officially announced until three weeks after the deadline for submission of candidates’ statements. He and other protesters maintain that this gave Carteris an unfair advantage – to campaign on an issue that other candidates didn’t know about in time to address in their own official campaign statements. The union’s election committee, however, determined that her reference to the Netflix deal in her candidate’s statement “had no impact on the outcome of the election.”

Peter Antico, another local board member, has also met recently with Krouse and DOL investigator Ivan Anguiano. That meeting, Antico said, lasted three hours. Among the many allegations he presented to the DOL is his claim that the election of William Charlton as a vice president at the union’s recent convention violated the convention’s rules. Charlton, one of the leaders of Carteris’ Unite for Strength team, failed in his bid to win a seat on the local board, and didn’t win enough votes to be selected as a convention delegate either. Antico, who objected to Charlton’s nomination at the convention, was ruled out of order by Carteris, and was then escorted out of the convention by security after he persisted.

“Mr. Charlton was not elected in the 2019 SAG-AFTRA general election as a convention delegate, therefore Mr. Charlton’s attendance at the Delegate Welcome Reception, in addition to his attendance on the convention floor during the election of SAG-AFTRA National officers, gave him an unfair advantage,” Antico said in his DOL complaint. “I request Mr. Charlton’s election be overturned.”

Charlton, who did not respond to Deadline’s request for an interview, was elected to the local board in 2013 but has never been elected to the national board. Nonetheless, he has been chosen as a national board replacement every year since 2013, when then-SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard named him as his replacement on the national board.

Numerous other dissidents are lining up to talk to the DOL as well including Adam Nelson, who was the campaign spokesman for losing presidential candidate Matthew Modine. Nelson’s attorney, Robert Allen, has been talking to Krause and is drafting an official charge that he’ll present to the DOL in the next few days. That complaint is expected to accuse the union’s election committees of using a double standard – favorable to Carteris and her supporters – when upholding or dismissing election complaints.

“There’s too much on the table to ignore,” Nelson said of his pending DOL complaint.

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