UCF Student Government Association senators have started asking SGA President Michael Kilbride tough questions about his decision to ban them from seeing financial information on an electronic database they used to have access to before.
Sen. Fernando Gonzales-Portillo, who chairs the powerful Conference Registration & Travel Committee, has been working to regain full access after he discovered Kilbride shut him out of the activity and service fee financial database system, called “Knightmare,” in late September.
“At first I thought it was a computer error and sought to be granted access to it again,” Gonzales-Portillo told KnightNews.com. But an investigation by KnightNews.com confirms it was no error — Kilbride excluded him and others on purpose the same day KnightNews.com posted an investigative report exposing how Kilbride spent $8,000 of student money on a luxury retreat.
The August 2nd e-mail sent by Kilbride to Joseph Sciarrino, the director of the activity & service fee business office, which was obtained by KnightNews.com, shows Kilbride initially shut out everybody from direct access to the Knightmare ASF database except the following people: himself, the SGA Vice President, Speaker of the Senate, Chief Justice, Comptroller, Deputy Comptroller, ORC Chairman and all OSI Advisors.
In the email, Kilbride wrote, “All others can work with the above individuals and/or accountants for reports and information. As always, anyone is free to PRR (public records request) the information, and we will be happy to provide it to them.”
The new policy, apparently requiring senators to file a public records request, would cause them to wait a lot longer to get information showing how student money is spent. That’s because SGA’s public records request form states it can only be submitted “to the SGA Senate Secretary on business days between 8am and 5pm,” and doesn’t have to even be looked at for 72 business hours before fulfilling the request within the reasonable time frame prescribed by law. In the past, senators, like Chair Gonzales-Portillo, had instant electronic access to the information.
Kilbride’s public relations staff has so far refused to comment on this issue, more than 24 hours after KnightNews.com sent an e-mail asking for one. However, the e-mail records we obtained show Kilbride did end up giving a few more people at least some access after his initial email, including Senate Protempore Josh Miller.
But not to Chair Gonzales-Portillo, who’s developed a reputation for holding elected leaders accountable. He said after he first noticed he was shut out of the database, he was temporarily given full access after asking about the situation — but it didn’t last long.
“At first I was granted access but then later in the day I received information later that day that I was only going to be granted access to the senate funds portion of ASF,” Gonzales-Portillo said, pointing out the lack of access to the Executive Branch spending.
“I then learned it was a decision of the Executive branch, specifically the President, to abridge access to Knightmare,” Gonzales-Portillo said. “I do not agree with the restrictions and believe it is an overstep of power from one branch into another branch.”
Gonzales-Portillo is serious about what he believes is his statutorily prescribed right as a senator able to keep an eye on how A&SF money is spent, including Kilbride’s Executive Branch.
“I have sent the Attorney General a request for an opinion on whether the Executive branch has the constitutional and statutory power to limit access to knightmare,” Gonzales-Portillo said.
Attorney General Nick Gurney told KnightNews.com he is working diligently on the issue.
“I am hopeful for having it released this week,” he said.
KnightNews.com is continuing to follow this major story, and will provide updates as soon as we can.
See the e-mail Kilbride sent to shut out access to the database on the next page.