After months of deliberation, USF Student Government (SG)’s senate impeachment committee revealed its decision regarding the fate of Attorney General Cordell Chavis.
Brian Goff, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, brought forth four charges in December against Chavis: malfeasance, incompetence, abuse of power and misfeasance.
In Tuesday’s senate meeting, the committee – made up of College of Arts and Sciences senator Christopher Randall and College of Business senators Jeremy Burns and Daniel McInerney – announced Chavis was found in violation of two of the four charges: incompetence and misfeasance.
Despite the committee’s findings, the Senate voted not to impeach.
“The purpose of the committee was not to decide whether he should or should not be impeached. That’s not what we went in there for,” Burns said at the meeting. “What we did was we had a student body member who had a concern, we looked into that concern, and we found what we thought could be in violation.”
To impeach, a two-thirds vote (21 senators) was needed. But 29 voted not to move forward with an impeachment trial for the incompetence charge and 28 voted not to carry out the misfeasance charge.
Goff’s charges were based on a statement Chavis made regarding an interim election to fill Senate seats.
According to the Articles of Impeachment written by the committee, Chavis “made a statement interpreted as a legal opinion on the matter of the election and who may be in charge of it,” and said that it’s legal for the Senate president to oversee an interim election during the fall semester.
That was in violation of SG statutes until the Senate voted to change statutes in September. The statutes now state that SG Adviser Gary Manka, SG Office Manager Judy Pollock and an SG graduate assistant are to oversee elections in lieu of the formation of an Election Rules Commission (ERC).
Chavis admitted his statement didn’t follow SG statutes, in which he also said only the ERC can oversee elections.
“I’ve contributed a great deal and time into Student Government. I’ve been in (SG) for three years,” he said. “I think people should be held accountable for their mistakes, but that mistake should be weighed not only with their impact on the organization but if it was a repetitive or redundant thing.”
Goff said he was not surprised the Senate did not impeach Chavis.
“My guess was that they were going to draw out the impeachment committee investigation until there was little time left – which is clearly evident that it was one of their concerns that there was no time left – so there’s no point in impeaching him,” he said. “I filed this in the fall when there was still months left.”
This is the second time Chavis faced impeachment charges. In September, Christopher Leddy, a former presidential candidate, filed charges claiming Chavis approved the legality of an election before it happened. The impeachment committee during that time did not move forward with an investigation.