During Monday’s Senate meeting, J.M. ’13 made allegations in which he accused G.T. ’14, Judiciary Council Chair, and R.B. ’12, AAS President, of attempting to make a backroom deal with Chris Friend ’14. He asked for the creation of a Committee of Inquiry that would recommend to the Judiciary Council whether to pursue impeachment of G.T. and R.B.
According to J.M., “R.B. and G.T., the JC Chair and candidate for Vice President, offered C.F. the position of interim treasurer in exchange for dropping out of the Vice Presidential race.”
C.F. and G.T. are currently both candidates for the vice presidential position. In having C.F. withdraw from the race, G.T. would have one less opponent for the seat (as Jasjaap Sidhu ’14 also ran for the position).
“To seek to remove one of George’s obstacles in becoming the next vice president by exploiting a vacant seat sounds Blagojevich-esque,” J.M. said. “That seat was f---ing golden, and they wouldn’t give it away for nothing.”
In his speech to the Senate, J.M. claimed that he brought up the issue not to “take anyone down with this,” but to instead address his concerns regarding the current culture of the Senate body.
“I am not willing to stand around as electoral engineering at the highest level takes place,” J.M. said. “R.B. and G.T. clearly sought to stack the deck in two out of five executive board seats, even excluding the presidential race. Now I am bringing these allegations to light because I have nothing to lose and fear that the others in the know have more at stake.”
J.M. added, “I want to make it clear that I no longer have any stake in this situation. I’m not campaigning for president and I soon won’t be a senator. I will fight to stay on the ballot since I did nothing to sway the results of the election, but I will also stop campaigning.”
J.M.’s allegations come after D.C. resigned from her position as Treasurer Saturday night after an elections complaint was lodged with the JC. Early Sunday afternoon, the Budgetary Committee (BC) convened with D.C. and unanimously nominated Abigail Xu ’15 as Interim Treasurer. However, the executive board rejected this nomination.
R.B. explained that the board’s decision to reject Xu was not due to her possible lack of qualifications as a candidate; rather, their reasoning lied in their opinion that the BC meeting violated meeting requirements. The first violation was that not all BC members were allowed to attend; R.B., an ex-officio and non-voting member of the BC, was prohibited by D.C. from attending the meeting. In addition, D.C., who resigned the previous night, led the meeting despite the fact that BC meetings are closed to non-BC members. Lastly, despite the presence of a minute-taker, she was instructed not to take minutes which resulted in a lack of official records of this first meeting.
However, J.M. alleged that the executive board -- specifically R.B. and G.T. -- rejected this nomination for interim treasurer because they wanted C.F. to take that spot instead. According to J.M., C.F. rejected this offer and for that, “he should be commended.”
In reply to these allegations, C.F. declared that though he was approached about the possibility of being interim treasurer, he strongly supported Xu’s candidacy. Furthermore, he stated that had the executive board rejected her candidacy and it been necessary for him to take the interim position, he would have continued to stay in the vice presidential race. As a member of the Budgetary Committee, C.F. had been part of the unanimous decision to nominate Xu and restated his confidence in her as the best possible candidate for interim treasurer.
“There was never any explicit deal nor even a mentioned deal. Vice president was never even mentioned in this topic,” C.F. said at the Senate meeting.
R.B. later stated that he had encouraged as many nominees as possible in order to have a stronger pool of potential interim treasurers.
“Prior to the BC meeting at which an interim treasurer was officially nominated, I spoke with multiple members of the BC, all of whom I had heard were interested in the position. These individuals included Matt Aizpuru ’12, C.F. and Xu. I encouraged multiple BC members to consider taking the position, and I would certainly not say that I supported C.F. more than I supported anybody else,” R.B. said. “As it turned out, only Abigail accepted a nomination, which is great as I think that she is a very strong candidate; she’s already doing a solid job.”
G.T. stated it was true that two months prior, he had encouraged C.F. to run for treasurer although C.F. ultimately decided not to. After C.F. decided to run for vice presidency, G.T. stated that he did nothing to convince C.F. to consider running for treasurer instead. When the position of interim treasurer opened, G.T. once again thought that Friend would make a good treasurer due to his qualifications.
“I thought C.F. would be a good treasurer because he’s experienced in the BC. I think C.F. has done a great job as publisher of the newspaper, as one of his platforms is that he helped the finance of The Student. At times of emergency, C.F. has the strength to keep our treasury going,” G.T. said.
The vice presidential race, in G.T.’s words, was not relevant to this discussion at all.
In regards to the two BC meetings on Sunday, the AAS e-board had felt that the presence of D.C. led to several concerns because she had already resigned. Because of this and the absence of official minutes from the first meeting on Sunday afternoon, they scheduled another meeting for Sunday night without D.C. present and with R.B. acting as a representative of the e-board.
However, the BC voiced their confusion over the second meeting and the e-board’s resistance. In this meeting, they informed R.B. that regardless of other factors, they would continue to support Xu as interim treasurer. R.B. claimed his concern was focused on the legitimacy of the first vote.
“He was afraid that D.C. had a negative influence at the earlier meeting. R.B. said the e-board wanted to make sure it was a clean house. They didn’t want D.C. involved in further BC meetings or anything to do with Office of Treasurer, and they were afraid that if I was elected, D.C. would still be somehow connected through me, which was absolutely ridiculous,” Xu said. “I think everyone knows, and the e-board too, that D.C. did an amazing job as treasurer. But she resigned, and she’s out. All strings have been cut and now it’s time to move on.”
The BC as a whole decided that her position as the financial administration clerk and at-large BC Member meant Xu was the only one qualified and able to immediately take on this job. When Friend was suggested as a possible candidate, he again rejected the nomination. In his reasoning, he stated that even if he assumed the position of interim treasurer, he would have needed to strongly rely upon Xu to complete the role.
“It seemed like e-board was nominating someone as interim treasurer who would not be able to do the job by himself,” Xu commented in reply to the e-board’s initial decision.
With respect to D.C.’s current position, several BC members voiced their opinion that she was done with the AAS just as she had stated over the weekend. In their later discussion, the BC confirmed that D.C. would neither be hired as a clerk nor act as the new At-Large Member of the BC committee in the following year, rendering the e-board’s concerns as void. Ultimately, the AAS e-board agreed with the BC’s decision and also unanimously voted for and confirmed Xu’s position as interim treasurer.
During his speech, J.M. asked for the creation of a Committee of Inquiry consisting of five senators elected by the Senate on secret ballot. This committee would investigate J.M.’s allegation and return a report to the Senate containing the evidence and a recommendation regarding the impeachment and removal of R.B. and G.T. This committee would have been considered a special committee; to be approved by the Senate it needed a majority vote. However, the motion for the creation of the committee was turned down with 16 no, 7 yes and 5 abstentions (according to the AAS Senate Twitter feed).
Even though the committee was not approved by the Senate, J.M. will still be bringing these allegations to the Judiciary Council.
“I do have a responsibility to present my evidence on the allegations,” J.M. said. “Towards that end, I will be pursuing the matter with the Judiciary Council in a timely fashion.”
J.M. did not present any corroborating evidence of his allegations to the Senate at Monday's meeting.
The e-board did not want D.C. to be involved in the AAS (BC or Office of Treasury) this year -- not next year.