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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Blackford resigns amid scandal

After weeks of scandal involving fraudulent expense reports, J.P. Blackford, a nine-year veteran of the Student Association senate, resigned his seat, citing scheduling constraints and recent Senate turmoil.

Blackford, formerly a graduate senator for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, submitted his resignation at 5 p.m. Sunday, four hours before the scheduled release of a report implicating Blackford in two financial misdealings.

Blackford called the timing of his resignation and the scheduled release of the report “coincidental” and said he was unaware of when the report would be released.

“It is with a heavy heart that I resign my position as SEAS-Graduate senator,” Blackford wrote in his resignation letter to the Senate.

Vice President for Judicial and Legislative Affairs Justin Oshana said the final report will not be released because Blackford is no longer a member of the SA.

“Now that Senator Blackford has resigned, the report will not be released,” Oshana said. “My office has no jurisdiction to investigate or report on the activities of students who are not part of the SA.”

Blackford said a class he chose to take next semester, held from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday nights, will conflict with Senate meetings, and he decided it would be a “disservice” to the Senate to miss the first hour of meetings.

Blackford, a teaching assistant and doctoral candidate, said he is a “student first” and decided that taking the class is more important than finishing his Senate term.

He said resignation was not the way he foresaw himself leaving after nine years of service.

“I am sad to see him leave the Senate and I accepted his resignation with regret,” said Executive Vice President Eric Daleo. “He has a real passion for student government and it is a big blow to this institution.”

Daleo said the Senate is seeking to fill both Blackford’s graduate SEAS seat and his Rules Committee chairmanship.

“We are working to ensure a smooth transition,” Daleo said. “Now we can put all of this stuff in the past and move on and focus on student issues.”

In a preliminary finding released Monday, the VPJLA said Blackford violated several bylaws when he filed improper expense reports and covered up his actions.

The investigation focused on two expense reports – one used to purchase alcohol for a Senate party and a second expense report in which Blackford approved expenses himself, a violation of SA financial bylaws.

SA officials said Blackford was a model senator whose commitment to students and dedication to the organization will be missed.

“Senator Blackford’s departure marks the end of a long history of service to this association and to the GW community,” Oshana said. “Few have come close to matching his service.”

Several senators said they were glad to see Blackford bow out of the Senate, allowing the student government to focus on legislation rather than scandal.

“I am glad he is resigning,” said Mark Hershfield (G-Law). “I think the SA will be a lot more productive with his resignation.”

The resignation was unexpected to some rank and file senators.

“It was kind of a shock to me, as well as (to) everybody else,” said Adam Greenman (U-At-Large). “I’m not upset by it, but I think it was the right decision. I think it was right for J.P. and I think it was the right decision for the Senate.”

Dan Moss (U-SBPM) said he was saddened by Blackford’s departure.

“J.P. was a good friend and colleague,” Moss said. “He’s going to be missed. I just hope that those who were out for J.P. are fully satisfied and prepared to move on.”

-Mosheh Oinounou and T. Neil Sroka contributed to this report.

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