BREAKING UPDATE #3:Kaplan failed to get the votes needed to be confirmed as Comptroller. The post will remain empty until the Senate confirms someone. See the video of the Kaplan at the Senate meeting below:
UPDATE #2: We dug through our records and found old pay sheets showing how Kilbride can seemingly cross out how much someone gets paid and pay them more or less.
CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE PAYSHEETS AND SEE THE WRITTEN CHANGES
You can’t see the names, because Kilbride’s SGA deems them as private, education records. Past SGA administrations did not. UF just lost a lawsuit using the same logic to hide SGA information in Gainesville.
We’re working to find how much UF spent defending that lawsuit, to give UCF students an idea of how much public money UCF is risking by maintaining this policy of secrecy. A UF spokesperson is working to fulfill our request for that information now.
Update #1: A new controversy has erupted in SGA just minutes before the meeting where the heated debate and vote to approve Kilbride’s pick for Comptroller will begin.
Kilbride released a statement claiming another person who applied for Comptroller, veteran Sen. Erica DeSanti, “expressed to both President Kilbride and Darren Kaplan that he will make a great Comptroller” after Kilbride picked Kaplan instead of her.
But after KnightNews.com called Chair DeSanti to confirm her statement in the release, she answered, “I never publicly made that statement.”
She later added via text: “I have been a good sport in the unfortunate situation but never publicly said that.”
Here is more of the SGA statement released after hours Thursday evening, regarding the appointment of Darren Kaplan to the position of Comptroller:
“First and foremost, Darren Kaplan is a strong and valuable leader within Student Government. Darren served as ORC chairman and was the most qualified candidate for the position of Comptroller. His extracurricular activities have helped develop him as a strong leader and we encourage all students to become active both inside and outside of the classroom. Students should know that their extracurricular activities will not be held against them when applying for Student Government positions. In addition, President Kilbride publicly announced this appointment at last Thursday’s senate meeting and we did not receive any questions about the appointment. Furthermore, Chair DeSanti expressed to both President Kilbride and Darren Kaplan that he will make a great Comptroller.”
When it comes to paid positions in UCF’s Student Government Association, no fraternity has more than Beta Theta Pi — which is one reason we’re told there’s internal outrage over SGA President Mike Kilbride’s decision to appoint yet another Beta as his new comptroller.
And tonight, it will be up to the Senate to decide whether Beta brother Darren Kaplan is the best person to serve as the watchdog over Kilbride’s more than $15 million budget — including the payroll accounts from which he and eight other members of Beta Theta Pi draw their SGA paychecks.
More than a half-dozen SGA officials expressed to KnightNews.com that they have grave concerns with a Beta Theta Pi member policing the payroll for his “frat bros.” None of these officials wanted us to publish their names, for fear of retaliation and confrontation from Kilbride’s administration and other Beta members in SGA.
Many of the sources were upset that having so many people — nearly 10 — from one fraternity collecting such a large portion of the SGA paychecks creates at least a perceived conflict of interest that looks bad for SGA.
In a phone interview with KnightNews.com, however, Kaplan said there are already safeguards in place to prevent conflicts of interest and argued that the large amount of Betas in SGA shouldn’t hold him back.
“I don’t think I should be judged unfairly because I come from a fraternity,” Kaplan said. “People should be reminded that I was a part of SGA before I became a Beta and worked my way up there.”
But the fact that so many Betas seem to be working their way up so fast is causing concern among the SGA officials who talked to KnightNews.com on the condition of anonymity.
One issue that concerned the SGA sources was the perception that Beta Theta Pi could be using SGA to recruit pledges in order to rebound from its suspension from UCF following an alleged rape scandal. Even though the alleged victim reportedly told police to drop the criminal investigation, UCF’s Office of Student Conduct apparently felt she cooperated enough with its investigation to find the fraternity in violation of sexual misconduct, according to reports. Beta insisted there was no evidence to justify that finding and sued UCF. The parties then reached a settlement, letting Beta back on campus.
One circumstance raising red flags that the sources pointed out involved how Gary Bruckner, a low level coordinator in Kilbride’s cabinet, was just given former Chief Information Officer Shane Chism’s prime 3rd floor office space in the Student Union, during the time he was being recruited by Beta to pledge that fraternity this Spring rush. After thinking it over, Bruckner ended up joining Beta, sources told KnightNews.com. So many Betas are involved in SGA, there’s even talk of a top UCF administrator warning them to stop wearing fraternity jerseys around the office.
Another concern KnightNews.com has learned is floating around the SGA office surrounds how the meeting to discuss removing Supervisor of Elections Shane Meckler — another member of Beta — lasted only four minutes, with not one person raising concerns. The lack of discussion came even after KnightNews.com caught the committee chair on camera announcing how several committee members wanted him gone and planned to discuss it. No official meeting happened between that announcement and that announced meeting, and it’s illegal for senators to discuss business or influence each other to drop the matter outside of the Sunshine.
Aside from the fraternity politics, another hurdle Kaplan will have to clear to get confirmed from the Senate and to take on his new job as Comptroller, is the potential for backlash among senators upset over him being picked as the best person for the position over a veteran senator who applied for the job and has consistently served in higher positions on committees than him.
That senator, Erica DeSanti, has been in SGA since Fall of 2007. She’s been the chair of the Financial Allocations and Organizations committee for two years, and currently serves as the vice chair of the powerful Activity & Service Fee Committee. Kaplan actually learned the ropes under DeSanti, when he served as her vice chair on the FAO committee during the 42nd Senate.
Kilbride’s administration never issued a press release to KnightNews.com explaining his reasoning for appointing Kaplan over DeSanti.
Kaplan, though, passionately explained during his interview with KnightNews.com how his fiscal experience, including his current chairmanship of the Operations Review Committee, give him the qualifications to be a good comptroller. He promised that he would not let fraternity politics interfere with his duties as the Chief Financial Officer of SGA.
If anyone felt like that got called into question, he said he’d have an open door policy to discuss it.
“I’d be more than willing to meet with students and help explain things to them if there’s ever an issue,” Kaplan said. “I would love to meet with students.”
If Kaplan doesn’t get confirmed by Senate Thursday night, he’ll lose his current SGA paycheck altogether. In a surprise move, rather than waiting for a vacancy to occur after being confirmed, Kaplan resigned from his paid position as ORC chairman, and threw his support behind Sen. Caitie Shields to replace him. The ORC chairman is one of the only senators with access to Kilbride’s more than $15 million Knightmare financial database, which Kilbride has taken unprecedented measures to keep secret from senate.
With Kaplan’s support, Shields defeated Sen. Sergio Tarfur and Sen. Tyler Rits. KnightNews.com first introduced you to Rits when he ran against the Senate Ticket led by Speaker Drew Pope, another Beta, and campaigned heavily on making SGA more transparent, reducing wasteful spending and opening it up to the students through better advertising.
It is believed that Kilbride would prefer Shields to be the one to have access to his Knightmare database he’s been hiding, because they are close friends outside of SGA, according to sources. Kaplan’s surprise resignation and decision to support Shields could cause uneasiness among senators whose votes he needs to move up into Kilbride’s cabinet.
It would only take about one-third of senate to block him.
KnightNews.com will continue monitoring this shakeup in Student Government and bring you the latest from tonight’s meeting in the Student Union starting at 7 p.m. Check back for updates on this major developing news.