UPDATE: You asked for more information, so we put together a timeline and more documents so you can dig through it all for yourself and come up with your own conclusions about how Kilbride’s SGA is being run. Check out the update here.
UPDATE: See the invoice for SGA’s nearly $8,000 Conference Championship shirt order, and the public records produced when we asked for “any and all records associated with this order, including, but not limited to, bids from competing companies, notes, emails, etc., SGA has sent or received discussing the order.” You will notice only a document from Image Depot with a price estimate was produced. The A&SF Business Office maintains a policy that: “requires quotes from two different vendors when requesting $3000 – $6000, for requests greater than $6000, quotes from three different vendors are required.” Kilbride already sent his “final” statement on this matter, so we’re unable to get further clarification regarding why there weren’t bids. His PR staff addressed it a few months back, and that information is below.
When SGA President Michael Kilbride ran for office last year, he was able to persuade a company called Image Depot to sell him T-shirts for only $2 each, according to invoices he released to KnightNews.com Monday.
READ $2 PER SHIRT INVOICE #1 AND #2 KILBRIDE BOUGHT FOR HIS CAMPAIGN
But just about a month after Kilbride took office — when he was spending the students’ money instead of his own — the price per shirt negotiated by Image Depot skyrocketed about 152 percent, from $2 to $5.05 each.
A KnightNews.com investigation has uncovered, that over a three day period in June of 2010, Kilbride bought 3,250 shirts at $5.05 each for a grand total of $16,412.50 from the company that charged him only $2 per shirt for his 1,001 campaign shirts just weeks earlier.
SEE LARGE SCALE SHIRT, VUVUZELA ORDERS KILBRIDE’S SGA BOUGHT FROM IMAGE DEPOT
Shortly after Kilbride awarded the company that gave him the $2 campaign shirt deal more than $16,000, KnightNews.com interviewed Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart and asked whether she had any concerns about an SGA president being the one who is able to award such a large t-shirt contract to a company after just buying so many shirts to give away to students to get votes during the campaign.
“I would think the whole student body, and in particular the student government would see through this and realize that in fairness they would really need to review their policies; and it shouldn’t be that one person selects what happens because that’s running afoul,” the veteran county commissioner said.
KnightNews.com also asked Stewart if it raised any concerns with her about possible pay to play scenarios.
“It sounds to me like it may lead to some questionable practices, and if they were to put a bidding process together it would be totally removed from that,” Stewart said.
Records KnightNews.com obtained show Kilbride did not get formal written bids or written quotes from competing companies when he bought $16,000 worth of shirts in June. After KnightNews.com’s highly-publicized interview with Stewart, records show Kilbride solicited three written bids or quotes for an order of about $16,632 worth of shirts placed in Sept. 2010.
During the bidding process, a company called Real Thread submitted a written quote of $2.30 per shirt on Aug. 19. Image Depot’s written quote per shirt came in just 5 cents cheaper on Aug. 31. Image Depot would have gotten the deal, but a third and cheapest bid came from Cubco, Inc. of Holly Hill, which when it all added up, beat Image Depot’s price by $3,168, records show.
The price per shirt Cubco charged was $1.89. But when it came time for the next large shirt order, about $8,000 worth for the UCF championship football game, Kilbride didn’t place the order with the company that gave him the best price the last time, and instead chose to place the order with the company that sold him campaign shirts for $2 each — without first collecting three written quotes or bids.
Kilbride’s PR staff defended his administration’s decision to spend nearly $8,000 of student money without gathering three written bids from competing companies when questioned about the purchase late last year.
“Image Depot is a consistent low cost vendor of t-shirts for the Orlando community,” Kilbride’s PR staff wrote. “With limited time for production, Image Depot was able to produce over 2,000 shirts with a quick turn around to meet our deadline.”
ENFORCEMENT, DEFINITION OF SPENDING SAFEGUARDS IS AMBIGUOUS
Kilbride’s PR staff also insisted in December that “all university purchasing requirements were followed in regards to this purchase.”
But KnightNews.com has uncovered a policy maintained by the Activity and Service Fee Business Office which raises serious questions about whether all the rules were actually followed.
The policy, listed as No. 8 among the things to remember regarding fund utilization, states: “Activity & Service Fee Business Office requires quotes from two different vendors when requesting $3000 – $6000, for requests greater than $6000, quotes from three different vendors are required.”
According to the above policy, the $8,000 championship shirt order would have required quotes from three different vendors.
It’s not clear, though, whether Kilbride believes this policy applies to him, because KnightNews.com discovered it late Monday night — after Killbride sent KnightNews.com an email denying he condones “pay-for-play” activities and stating it would serve as his “final statement on the matter.” He then ignored a follow up question sent earlier Monday.
While Kilbride refuses to answer questions or explain himself in depth, it’s clear that Kilbride repeatedly awarded large contracts to Image Depot without shopping around for the best price through a formal, written bid process, according to public records KnightNews.com obtained.
Kilbride and his PR staff have also declared that Kilbride’s SGA is not subject to another spending safeguard mandated by Senate in Section (Q) of proviso language in last year’s A&SF Budget Bill requiring: “All SGA Agencies must gather at least three (3) bids for all production expenses exceeding $5,000.”
In December, when questioned about whether Kilbride violated this proviso language, Kilbride’s PR staff argued that Kilbride’s SGA Executive Branch wasn’t an SGA agency and that the proviso language instead referred to other agencies, such as Sport Club Council and Knightcast.
After KnightNews.com did some research and presented information to Kilbride’s SGA last week suggesting SGA is indeed an agency, as SGA refers to itself as an agency in its own constitution and is grouped with other agencies during the A&SF Budget meetings, Kilbride’s PR team changed its reasoning regarding why Kilbride’s SGA wasn’t bound by the proviso language requiring three bids on production expenses over $5,000.
Instead of arguing that the proviso language doesn’t apply to SGA’s Executive Branch, Kilbride’s SGA argued the definition of “production expenses” doesn’t relate to producing shirts.
“You make an interesting point about whether the proviso language regarding production expenses applies to SGA,” said Kilbride’s PR specialist, Kayla Torpey. “That hasn’t come up as a possibility this year because SGA has not put on a large concert or comedy show that would require production of that magnitude.”
Kilbride’s SGA never presented this reasoning in December — before KnightNews.com presented information refuting SGA’s initial position that Kilbride’s SGA Executive Branch is not an SGA affiliated agency. Torpey is unavailable to explain herself further because she decided to take most of the week off during the SGA Presidential elections, leaving important questions unanswered during a time when students need answers most before heading to the polls.
KnightNews.com consulted several dictionaries, which define production as: “The processes and methods employed to transform tangible inputs (raw materials, semifinished goods, or subassemblies) and intangible inputs (ideas, information,knowledge) into goods or services.” Production costs are defined as: “combined costs of raw material and labor incurred in producing goods”
KnightNews.com pointed out that under the conventional definition of production, the cost of converting raw materials and semifinished goods — such as blank t-shirts or vuvuzelas needing the SGA logo printed on them — into a finished good available for use, would qualify as a production expense, as called for in (Q) of proviso. (Kilbride’s SGA also bought more than $1,000 worth of vuvuezla horns from Image Depot, specially customized with the SGA logo, Knightmare records show.)
When KnightNews.com emailed UCF Associate General Counsel Youndy Cook asking if Kilbride was relying on her interpretation of “production expenses” to justify not collecting three bids for shirt orders over $5,000, she did not sign her name to it. Instead, two of Kilbride’s advisers responded stating that it was their recollection that the intent of the 2009-2010 A&SF Budget Committee, which they said first enacted the language, that the “production expenses” referred to concert production expenses incurred by SGA agencies.
KnightNews.com repeatedly suggested SGA provide some audio excerpts from the A&SF Budget meetings or Senate meetings where the budget bill was passed to prove the assertion that discussion surrounding “production expenses” referred to concerts and not the common usage in the dictionary. The suggestion was declined.
The director of the A&SF Business office confirmed his office interprets “production expenses” as relating to concerts as well when it comes to proviso language. This same office is the one that came under fire recently for interpreting rules in a way to allow Kilbride to shut out the Senate from seeing his Knightmare financial database. His office defied an opinion from then-Attorney General Nicholas Gurney to restore Senate’s access to Knightmare.
Only after the SGA Senate wrote a resolution citing applicable Florida law which gave them that right, and threatened to seek intervention of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the A&SF Business Office backed down and let the Senate see Kilbride’s Knightmare again.
Even if the UCF administration interprets the word “production” in the uncommon way, the ambiguity could cause big problems for Kilbride, if like with Knightmare, the Senate disagrees with applying the uncommon interpretation and determines its intent in passing that proviso language was the plain and common usage of “production expenses” to encourage competition and the best price for production expenses related to large shirt orders.
That’s because, if any UCF student interpreted the information KnightNews.com has uncovered as being worthy enough to file an impeachment affidavit against Kilbride, only the Senate’s interpretation of whether Kilbride properly followed both the proviso language and the more restrictive A&SF quote policy would matter when the vote on whether he should be held accountable comes down.
WHO IS PAYING FOR ALL THIS FREE STUFF NOW?
It’s not clear if Image Depot is once again giving the $2 per shirt deal to candidates in this current SGA presidential election, because UCF doesn’t have any policies requiring candidates disclose how they spend money or who donates funds related to their campaigns.
That same lack of rules also makes unclear who paid for a giant semi-truck parked outside the Student Union and passing out free Wackadoo’s BBQ lunches to students wearing a yellow McCann/Brock I voted sticker. When KnightNews.com asked Kilbride about a credible tip we got that he paid for the truck of food, Kilbride carefully denied it by responding in writing: “I have not made any financial contributions to either of the tickets currently seeking Student Government office.”
Given the history of Kilbride’s SGA interpreting the meaning of words in uncommon ways, KnightNews.com then replied to Kilbride and copied McCann and Brock saying: “If the McCann/Brock campaign could show us who paid for Wackadoos and how, it would disprove these tips we’ve been getting that you worked that deal out with Wackadoos.”
Nearly 24 hours later, no response has been received showing who paid for the Wackadoo’s truck and how. A tipster told KnightNews.com the truck costs up to $3,000 and Wackadoo’s is also a frequent vendor the SGA president can choose whether or not to give business to once in office.
SOME STUDENTS ARE FED UP WITH FREE FOOD, ELITISM
Hundreds of students have begun a movement protesting what they believe amounts to buying an election and bribery — handing out free food in exchange for votes. The movement criticizes the current system as favoring the rich and well connected, making it impossible for an average candidate, who best represents the average UCF student struggling with rising tuition, to mount a successful campaign and serve as the official student voice.
This election marks the second straight year no Progressive ticket has managed to gather the resources to put up a candidate to compete since Stephen Mortellaro ran in 2009. Different members of the group have instead recently focused attention on educating students about the proposed slash to the SGA Governmental Affairs Unit in favor of giving its controversial lobbyist Fred Leonhardt of GrayRobinson a raise, saving the UCF Arboretum from demolition and gobbling up all the free food they can so it can’t be used to buy anybody’s vote.
“If you can’t beat the system, eat the system,” said Tyler Smith, who was elected to Senate in fall and is a strong voice in the Progressive community.
The SGA election ends Wednesday at 5 p.m.