Student Government fixed a mistake in its $9-million budget Tuesday night.
SG rescinded $1,297.97 in funds originally marked for the club Bulls for Davis, a group that supports congressman Jim Davis, due to a statute that does not allow Activities & Service fees to support a political campaign. Davis, who is going for a gubernatorial bid, is a representative from the 11th congressional district, which includes the USF campus.
Although the monies were originally approved by the Activities & Service Fees Recommendation Committee and passed by the senate in its annual budget meeting, SG Business Manager David Armstrong admitted the committee made a mistake.
According to a letter Armstrong wrote to the senate, Bulls for Davis is in conflict with statute 801.5, which states “No A&S funds shall be used on or in behalf of any political campaign.” The letter continues to state that the organization is devoted specifically to getting Jim Davis elected as governor.
Armstrong advises the ASRC, but said he was not present when the committee decided to grant Bulls for Davis funds.
“It was an accident during ASRC,” said Umer Ahmed, who sat on the ASRC committee and is now the chair of the budget committee. “We accidentally – we just let it go by; we didn’t pay attention.
“The thing is we can’t allow funding for an organization that supports a political campaign.”
Although student body President Frank Harrison is on the ASRC and approved Bulls for Davis as a member of the SG senate, he was not on the committee when it approved the club’s budget.
“When it reaches the senate floor for it to be voted on, all we see are numbers,” Harrison said. “Obviously we can’t see the actual text and mission statement or purpose statement of every organization.
“I guess honestly it’s something that everybody who was in that senate let it just kind of slip through the cracks. I guess there’s no better reason.”
Joel Rostetter, a senior majoring in political science and Bulls for Davis’ president, wasn’t aware his group was breaking any rules.
“This is the first I’ve ever heard of that. I went through the whole process – me and the original president – we went through all the proper channels,” said Rostetter, who first proposed the group’s budget last spring semester. “Nobody ever mentioned there was a law banning it.”
In order for a club to be considered for funding, the organization must submit a budget, which is checked by a member of the ASRC.
Rostetter said he had to get a professor and a member of Student Government to sponsor his request, as well.
He said his club’s mission was simple. During the spring semester Rostetter and his club set up a table during Bull Market.
“We were registering people to vote,” Rostetter said. “We handed out pamphlets saying, ‘This is who Jim Davis is, this is what he’s about.'”
Bulls for Davis was planning on using the money for an event along with another organization, the College Democrats, that would bring in Davis and other speakers. Rostetter said the event was being discussed with SG.
Rostetter said he is not sure of his next move.
“I’m probably going to make some calls and figure out first why I was never told,” Rostetter said. “But what’s there to do? And who do I appeal to?”