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The GW Hatchet

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SA senators discuss impeachment

Student Association senators are investigating alleged finance violations by SA President Phil Robinson that could be grounds for impeachment. Robinson said he is “perplexed” by the Senate’s actions concerning a $200 expenditure, for which a form lacked proper signatures.

The May Expenditure Authorization Form was for a dinner at the University Club with Presidential Administrative Fellows, Robinson said. While EAFs usually require a signature by the SA vice president for financial affairs, the specific form lacked the date and then-VPFA Julia Leikin’s signature.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Dan Moss (U-SBPM) said his committee is still investigating the form they found last week. He said the missing signature could be a violation of a Senate bylaw that states that any expenditure not approved by the VPFA is an “offense against the Student Body.”

According to the senate constitution, violations of financial affairs bylaws can be subject to impeachment.

Moss called the allegations “serious” but said any decision to begin impeachment proceedings has to be by unanimous committee consent.

Sen. J.P Blackford (G-SEAS) also said the form “violated bylaws.”

However, Robinson said the VPFA is responsible for signing the
form and disagreed that he violated any bylaws.

“I can’t be responsible for someone who didn’t do their job,” Robinson said, noting that EAFs commonly lack signatures.

Any individual or group seeking SA funding fills out an EAF and submits it to the VPFA for approval. Once the VPFA approves the EAF, it is sent to the University for secondary approval before funds are disbursed.

At least two senators have said members of the Working For Us slate from last year’s election are the main supporters of investigating the claims.

Moss, who ran on the platform in the spring 2002 SA election with 12 other candidates, said he is looking into any financial mismanagement after the $50,000 budget shortfall earlier this year.

“I’m not going to have, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, any other finances mismanaged,” Moss said.

Vice President for Judicial and Legislative Affairs Justin Oshana, who is in charge of any SA investigations, said he has not received official notification about the discrepancy and said he is concerned that the Senate is not following normal procedure.

“(The Senate) is going about this like ‘we want to impeach him, let’s find something to get him on,'” Oshana said.

Oshana said he has looked into the matter individually and found that “there is no violation on behalf of anyone who is still in the SA.”

He said the preparer of the EAF, in this case Robinson, is not responsible for making sure the VPFA “does their job.”

Robinson said the senate is “jumping two or three steps ahead of itself . and making a mountain out of a molehill.”

He also said the allegations are a sign of a “double standard,” noting that he has found EAFs by senators that also lack signatures.

Robinson said he is disappointed that the SA senate is spending time looking into old EAF forms as opposed to dealing with the “big issues.”

“We had a great town hall meeting last week . where students told us what they wanted us to work on, and all we have to show is people digging up old financial forms,” Robinson said.

Other senators said they are also upset with the path the senate has taken.

“This has nothing to do with politics . it’s a political witch hunt,” said Sen. Mark Hershfield (Law). “They have been trying to get Phil on something since the beginning of the year.”

Hershfield said he has spoken with senators who are being approached about impeaching Robinson on other charges and is concerned about the senate’s priorities.

“You can’t just go around invalidating an election because you don’t like who was elected,” he said. “If I was (Robinson), I would be concerned because they will put a noose around his neck after any slip-up.”

Impeachment talks and proceedings are not new to the SA. The SA Senate impeached and removed former President Phil Meisner from office three years ago.

Meisner was charged with failing to follow SA bylaws and its constitution, failing to appear at scheduled meetings and official events, disregarding the financial regulations of the SA and GW and making false and misleading statements to senators regarding SA executive finances, according to past Hatchet articles.

Robinson said he is “confident the matter will be resolved,” and the SA will be able to tackle issues such study abroad programs, printing and dining issues.
-T. Neil Sroka contributed to this report.

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