Student Government officials deny impeachment allegations
Three members of SG under investigation for impeachment describe the timing of the allegations – which fall during SG election season – as “interesting” and “convenient”.
Justin Hall, chief of staff and student body presidential candidate, is under investigation for impeachment per a memo submitted to Student Government Senate Pro Tempore Nicole Randazzo on Tuesday. He is accused of covering up alleged illegal firings of three executive branch members carried out by David Brickhouse, former chief of staff and current deputy attorney general. Also, Hall is accused of covering up wrongdoing because he endorsed Brickhouse for his new position, and Brickhouse is accused of lying. Hall is also accused of inappropriately handling accusations of misconduct involving Brickhouse and SG Attorney General Tom Green when they were allegedly found to have gone through Gregory Morgan’s computer, according to the memo.
In response to these allegations, Hall said that he is open and transparent and that he has nothing to hide.
“The truth will set everything free,” he said.
Hall said he is willing to give the impeachment committees – formed at Tuesday’s Senate meeting to investigate the claims – all the information they want and that he is confident they will clear him.
“They’re going to find out all this is irrelevant,” he said.
Hall also said he finds the timing of the allegations interesting because he is currently campaigning for SG president. He also said he is concerned that Senator Michael Johnson did not approach him or the others accused prior to filing the investigation for impeachment.
“I find it interesting that he knows such intimate details when he’s not in the executive branch,” Hall said.
Johnson said that he asked questions pertaining to Hall, Green and Brickhouse at SG’s Internal Affairs committee meeting and that he feels his questions were not properly answered. Also, Johnson said he put forth the investigation at this time because Brickhouse was hired a week ago.
“I can’t help that it’s during election season,” he said.
Hall said he will continue his responsibilities as a student leader, chief of staff, and being involved in the University during this investigation.
Brickhouse and Green are accused of going through the computer files that belong to presidential candidate Morgan. Morgan is also SG’s director of student life and development and one of the three people Brickhouse allegedly illegally fired in the fall.
Green and Brickhouse said that the incident with Morgan’s computer was an honest mistake and a miscommunication. Green and Brickhouse said Shane Johnson, chief financial officer for the Executive Branch, and Morgan shared an office and were asked by Hall to temporarily relocate to a different office for the election season. Green and Brickhouse would be relocated so they could have a separate office away from the candidates.
Under the impression that Johnson and Morgan had relocated, Brickhouse entered the room and started using a publicly shared computer. Brickhouse assumed it was signed in under Green’s name and did not sign in under his own because he was newly appointed to his position of deputy attorney general and had yet to receive his login information, he said. Green entered the room shortly after Brickhouse. Brickhouse was using the computer because he and Green were looking for Morgan to ask him a question. Brickhouse opened Microsoft Outlook to locate Morgan’s shared calendar. All members of SG share their calendars on Outlook to keep each other informed of their schedules. As soon as Brickhouse located Morgan’s calendar, he realized that the computer was not logged in under Green’s name but under Morgan’s, he said.
At that moment, Morgan entered the room and realized Brickhouse was on the computer under his name, they said. Green and Brickhouse then said it became an “awkward situation” and they immediately left the room. Green said he apologized to Morgan and explained what had happened the next day, saying that it was not intentional.
Morgan said he complained to SG Vice President Faran Abbasi minutes after the incident and verified Green’s apology. Brickhouse said it was a mistake and not a mean-spirited action.
“We weren’t snooping around on his computer,” he said.
Meg Roberts, SG spokeswoman and director of marketing, said that many people in SG share computers and that it is an easy mistake to make. Green clarified that the attorney generals have set computers “as per administrative code” and that is why Brickhouse did not check to see who was logged in.
Hall sent a written warning to Brickhouse and Green, explaining they are not allowed to use a computer logged in under any name but their own, under Academic Computing policy. If an SG member gets three written warnings in a semester or five in a year, they are fired. Green and Brickhouse said Hall’s warning was the last they heard of the incident until the impeachment investigations.
Green is also accused of incompetence for hiring another attorney general, “implying that (he) may not be up to the job that is normally handled by one Attorney General and one Deputy Attorney General,” according to the memo.
Green said these allegations are “strictly hearsay” because he did not send anyone to SG’s Internal Affairs committee to confirm another deputy attorney general.
“We did not appoint a candidate for the position of a second attorney general,” he said.
Billy Schmidt, director of community and government affairs, said that it’s common for an attorney general to deputize more than one attorney general during election season because they need all the help they can get to keep an eye on the candidates.
Brickhouse is also accused of illegally firing three executive branch employees last fall and covering up information pertaining to the Barclay Harless incident, during which the former president resigned following allegations of improper conduct in SG offices. Also, Brickhouse is accused of lying at his recent confirmation by contradicting statements made by student body President Garin Flowers in reference to the firings in 2007.
Brickhouse said Harless told him to fire the three officers because of their inability to work as a team with the other members of the cabinet of directors. Brickhouse also said that as chief of staff, he did not have the power to fire three officers on his own accord and it was ultimately Harless’ decision and that he was doing his duty as chief of staff. Flowers said he knew about the firings, but that Harless made the decision.
Brickhouse also said that his resignation was not a result of this incident. He requested to resign about a week and a half before the firings occured and said he would remain chief of staff until the position could be filled. The firings happened within that time frame, Brickhouse said.
Flowers confirmed Brickhouse’s account and said Brickhouse resigned before the firings.
SG said it is treating the situation seriously and handling it fairly.
“We are taking this very seriously,” Roberts said in a statement. “It’s an official process. Any student or SG entity can file these charges against anyone within SG. It’s a checks and balances system to ensure that our students’ representatives are upholding the highest ethical standards, while keeping the best interest of the student body in mind.”