Senate members strike down impeachment charges against President Pro Tempore Diaz

At the beginning of this semester, a USF student noticed minutes from Student Government (SG) senate meetings were not being uploaded to the SG Web site. In fact, they hadn’t been updated in five months.

Brian Goff, a freshman majoring in biomediccal sciences, called for the impeachment of senate President Pro Tempore Matthew Diaz, a vice presidential candidate, at Tuesday’s senate meeting.

However, an impeachment committee – formed at Tuesday’s meeting – reviewed the charges brought by the memo and already made a decision.

“Our committee has decided not to move forward with impeachment proceedings,” committee member and College of Arts and Sciences Senator Christian Marble said after a 30-minute recess in which members discussed the charges.

Marble said the committee made that decision because the severity of the accusation “does not merit impeachment.” He said the minutes are now up-to-date and the meaning of the statutes for Diaz’s job to update the minutes online is vague.

One of the president pro tempore’s duties is “to maintain the legislative area of the SG Web site,” according to SG statutes. The SG Web site says his job also includes “ensuring that all documents of the (Legislative) branch are kept up-to-date.”

Minutes were not uploaded to the SG Web site from about September 2009 to Feb. 1, according to the memo of impeachment submitted by Goff, a roommate of presidential candidate Scott Howard.

Goff filed for Diaz’s impeachment on grounds of nonfeasance – “a failure to perform an act that is either an official duty or legal requirement,” according to SG statutes.

“They’re here making all the decisions for us. We should be keeping an eye on them,” he said. “(Diaz) was negligent to an extreme … It was five months where concerned students, like myself … who would like to see what’s going on in senate but can’t because (the minutes) are not posted.”

But Diaz said since he’s taken office he has been giving the minutes to the Library to hold in its archives, thus making the minutes still public to students.

“I did fulfill my duty within the statutes,” he said. “The students have voiced that they want easy accessibility to it, so why not give students what they want.”

Diaz said he was surprised when he first heard of the accusations.

“I really hope that it isn’t (a political stunt), but if it is, shame on whoever brought this up,” he said. “Those aren’t the representatives we need in this office.”

Last semester, Goff filed impeachment charges against SG Attorney General Cordell Chavis on the grounds of malfeasance, incompetence, misfeasance and abuse of power. The senate is still reviewing those charges.