Student Government launched an investigation into the actions of student body president Omar Khan and vice president Ryan Morris.
If proven guilty of allegations of wrongdoing — including violations of the SG statutes — Khan and Morris, who were elected in April, could both be impeached.
Ryan Caruso, senate president of Student Government, cited 11 SG statutes that regulate members’ ethics, the hiring and firing of SG officials and items dealing with the executive branch as some of the named violations on the grounds for impeachment.
“Since we got elected and took office, all Ryan (Morris) and I have heard was that we were going to get impeached,” Khan said. “We have acted in the most ethical ways we could.”
Caruso added that in order to follow the SG Statutes on impeachment proceedings, an ad hoc committee must be formed, and according to the letter that was presented to Caruso Tuesday at the senate meeting, there must be two committees: one for Khan and one for Morris.
Caruso said the senate voted for five senators to make up each of the committees on Tuesday night and those 10 senators now have to set up procedures on how they will investigate the president and vice president.
SG statute 200.2 states that the author/sponsor of the charges, the senate president and the senate vice president pro-tempore cannot sit on the ad hoc committee and each committee must be unbiased and impartial when conducting the investigation.
“It is a matter of trust between me and the committee members that they will uphold the SG rules, constitution and statutes that they swore to,” Caruso said. “I really believe that those who were chosen will be unbiased.”
The committees, Caruso said, will then determine if the violations of the statute cited in the letter are valid.
“If they feel the violations are valid, they will make a recommendation to the senate,” Caruso said.
But until then, no decision will be made, Caruso said, and even if the recommendation says the violations are valid, a two-thirds vote of all senators is needed for all 11 violations to recommend impeachment for Khan and Morris.
“I think it would be impossible to get those votes in the senate,” Caruso said. “Our senate is very diverse.”
Even if the recommended impeachment passed the senate, Caruso said the final decision would be left up to the SG Supreme Court.
The issue of possible impeachment arose when Bishop Taylor, former director of marketing and advertising for SG, gave a letter of complaint to SG senator Xavier Johnson last week.
Allegedly, Taylor was fired from his position and had some concerns on how the process of hiring and firing of SG officials was handled, Caruso said. Caruso added that Taylor came to him with the concerns.
“I told him he had two options: to go to the SG Supreme Court to try to get his job back, or, if he had concerns about why he was fired, he could write a letter of complaint to a senator,” Caruso said.
Taylor and Johnson were unable to be reached for comment Wednesday.
According to SG statutes, the process for impeachment has to follow strict guidelines that start with the accusing party bringing a complaint to the attention of any SG senator.
Taylor chose Johnson, who then had to decide whether Taylor’s complaint was valid enough to ask the senate to form committees to investigate.
Danielle Higginbotham, a SG senator and a member of the committee that was formed to investigate Morris, said her committee plans on meeting tonight to elect a chairman and discuss how it will handle the investigation.
Chris Marshall, a SG senator and a member of the committee that was formed to investigate Khan, will be holding a meeting this morning to discuss its approach to the investigation, as well.
Khan said he has given his heart and soul to SG and will continue to do so, no matter what the situation is.
“The students elected me and I won’t stop no matter what happens,” Khan said.
Morris added that the threat of impeachment is a major distraction from their SG duties.
“We need to work on stuff for the students and I am not happy that this is happening now,” Morris said.