Even if the UCF Student Government Association Attorney General’s opinion — that the SGA chief of staff may submit a written report to the Senate rather than reporting updates to the Senate in person — is accepted by the Senate, it appears that may not be the end of the controversy.
Knight News has learned that senators believe UCF SGA presidential candidate Nick Larkins may not have submitted his reports to the senate through the proper channels while Chief of Staff, according to Title III: The Legislative Branch Chapter 304.5. (F).
According to Title III: The Legislative Branch Chapter 304.5. (F), “The External Legislative Assistant shall be the chief point of contact between the Student Government Association Legislative Branch for all public relations and University affairs, including, but not limited to, the Student Government Association Executive and Judicial Branches, media agencies, University Colleges, Student Government Association Affiliated Agencies, Student Government Associated Affiliated Departments, and Registered Student Organizations. Upon request, the External Legislative Assistant may draft measures pertaining to events that impact the University and the Student Body.”
What this statute appears to mean is, if Chief of Staff Larkins wanted to submit his reports in writing instead of attending senate in person, he should have submitted those reports to the External Legislative Assistant, Alexis Szelwach; not the Speaker of the Senate Crystian Cepeda, argue some senators.
Knight News reached out to Legislative Assistant Szelwach, but has not received a response by the time of this article.
When asked about her thoughts on Title III: The Legislative Branch Chapter 304.5. (F), Senator Brianna Bailey said, “I was disappointed that Larkins initially cast blame for his email not being reported on February 9. But, not only did he send it without sufficient notice, only 20 minutes before the Senate meeting, he also didn’t send this email to the correct person.”
As Knight News previously reported, Sen. Bailey filed a Recommendation of Censure against Chief of Staff Larkins for not fulfilling his statutory mandated requirements as stated in Title IV Chapter 402.4. Chapter 402.4 states, “The Chief of Staff shall report updates to the senate on executive branch internal operations a minimum of two (2) times a month.”
In the Legislative Judicial and Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday, the committee voted to postpone the voting on whether or not to advance the Recommendation of Censure to full senate floor until the committees next meeting.
During the LJR Committee meeting, many facets of the Censure were investigated. Attorney General Josh Winograd’s official opinion was presented which said, “Considering that Section 402.4 is a recent addition to Title IV, if the intentions of the Legislature were to have the Chief of Staff’s reports given orally, it should have been explicitly stated. Without the expressed language of a statutory requirement for the reports to be oral, the Black’s Law Definition must be used for interpretation which clearly allows for reports to be oral or written.”
LJR Committee member, Senator Camila Murphy previously said, “Given that it’s Black’s Law Dictionary, and that’s what we go off, yes that is correct, it’s oral or written. But that’s not the issue; the issue is did he even report. Does what he did even count as a report to the senate as that statue states.”
LJR Committee member, Senator Jacob Milich commented on what Title III: The Legislative Branch Chapter 304.5. (F) means in the context of the Recommendation of Censure.
“Looking at this, the wording is pretty clear, it looks like the External Legislative Assistant is the liason between the executive and legislative branch, and I think thats very clear in the language here.”
Milich continued saying, “I think it is important that we be consistent with how we deal with situations. If we are going to read one section as black and white, we should apply that to every section we are looking at.”
Knight News reached out to Presidential Candidate Larkins this morning for comment on Title III: The Legislative Branch Chapter 304.5. (F). Larkins declined to comment, and said he will speak to Knight News after the polls close at 5 p.m.