By Jacob Weissenburg and Nate DePaul
The Student Association Senate and a room full of concerned students heard arguments from the Board of Finance (BoF) about why they recommended the impeachment of President Desann Chin-Carty during their weekly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
The BoF laid out a case of what they characterized as gross financial negligence on the part of the President, charging her with several cases of Neglect of Duty and Abuse of Power allegations.
The BoF report, which is over 100 pages of witness testimony, documented evidence, and a summary of the findings alleges that, on numerous occasions, that Carty either failed to appropriately document purchases using SA funds and go through the proper channels to authorize these purchases, bought things using SA funds that were not in the interest of the student population, or both.
In one instance in the report, two witnesses, the SA Vice President Ariel Nunez and a Person of Interest with knowledge of the dealings of the SA executive branch, testified that President Carty not only bought supplies for an executive branch potluck using the SA credit card (it was allegedly understood by all attendees that the supplies were to be purchased with their own money), but that some of the items purchased were not used for the potluck, which suggests that they were in fact used for personal use.
The report also details several pieces of office furniture, including desks and a chair, that the BoF believed were irresponsible to purchase with SA funds, which are comprised of the Student Activity fee paid by all students.
This investigation began on Dec. 14 when the BoF was in the midst of doing routine credit card audits for SA accounts and found several purchases that they then flagged as “suspicious.”
A further fact-finding probe of these purchases, involving testimony from the witnesses mentioned above and the President herself, led to the recommendation of impeachment.
A LENGTHY IMPEACHMENT PROCESS
After presenting their case to the Senate, the BoF was questioned by Senators and the public alike; members of the public are not typically granted questioning and debate privileges, but exceptions were made during this session in the interest of transparency.
At the conclusion of the BoF report, President Carty gave her own presentation, going point by point through the report and defending each of the alleged misconducts as either not impeachable, or perfectly reasonable and within the power of the President in regards to some of the alleged abuse of power charges.
Though there is no standard for impeachment in the SA Constitution, meaning there is technically no explicitly “impeachable” conduct, there is a process outlined for removing an executive branch official.
A two-thirds majority of Senators must first vote to go hold an impeachment hearing, at the conclusion of which there would be another vote with a two-thirds threshold needed to recommend removal of the official by the Senate.
Then four votes from SA Supreme Court Justices would be needed to remove the official from office, a process made difficult purposely to avoid the frivolous removal of officials.
The Senate was unable to even vote to go into a hearing this past Wednesday, as the meeting ran too long.
SA RESIGNATIONS ACROSS THE BOARD
Over the past semester, there were several resignations from SA officials, which we can now assume might have been in part motivated by the allegations put forth by the BoF.
During the previous Senate meeting on Jan. 29, it was announced that Senator Max Sevor, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, had resigned from the Senate and submitted a letter to the Senate.
His letter, addressed to Senate Chairman Nicholas Chin, contained his reasoning for his resignation, citing several examples of alleged corruption and unethical conduct that has occurred within the Student Association.
Chairman Chin expressed great concern for the high rate of resignations during the meeting.
“This is deeply concerning to not only myself and Vice-Chairman Daquial,” said Chin. “It is unprecedented that we have had 13 senators resign since the beginning of the year.”
Another high-profile resignation was that of Carty’s Chief of Staff Amy Zhang, who still sits on the BoF and participated in the investigation.
The debate over beginning a hearing will continue at the next Senate session on Wednesday, Feb. 12.