SGA’s Legislative Judicial and Rules Committee has decided to move the Recommendation of Censure filed against Chief of Staff and now President Elect Nick Larkins to the Senate floor.
After an initial vote of 5-5, with one abstention, it appeared that LJR Chairman Bonsu Appou would be the deciding vote on the matter. However, LJR Committee member Sen. Jacob Milich made a motion to reconsider the vote.
After the motion, the committee voted again. But this time, LJR Committee member Sen. Joseph Davis changed his vote from against the censure going before the Senate, to for it.
“Within our committee we were 5-5-1 in the vote count, based on that with us being so split up I felt the senate should be able to hear it (the censure) and have their own opinion on it,” Davis said. “We represent them (the senate) but when we are split they should be able to hear it also.”
As Knight News previously reported, Sen. Brianna Bailey filed a Recommendation of Censure against Chief of Staff Larkins for not fulfilling his statutorily requirements drawn out in SGA Statute 402.4. The Statue states, “The Chief of Staff shall report updates to the senate on executive branch internal operations a minimum of two (2) times a month.”
After the meeting, Sen. Bailey shared her thoughts on the censure moving forward.
“I do think it is smart to have the entire senate hear this issue. Like I mentioned in committee, elections are over and we have a new president. This won’t affect his presidency, in my understanding, unless it were to get completely blown up, which is not my intention at all. This Censure was to bring before everyone the issues. My goal honestly is to just have a long lasting effect that I take senate seriously, all of us take senate seriously, and we want the rest of the executive branch [to take it seriously] too. That’s all I can honestly hope for,” Bailey said.
During the LJR Committee meeting, the committee members discussed the intent behind why Chief of Staff Larkins did not report to the senate, and the potential precedent that may be set.
LJR Committee member, Sen. Milich, who voted against the censure, believed that the intent behind why Chief of Staff Larkins did not report to the senate must be taken into consideration.
“ I voted no because I believe the chief of staff thought he was doing the right thing and the legislation specifying what he had to do was very sloppily written, so it’s very possible that he didn’t know he was in the wrong,” Milich said.
“I think intent is very important and I am not willing to condemn someone because they did not know they were breaking the rules. I tend to want to give him the benefit of the doubt in this case,” Milich added.
LJR Committee member Sen. Camila Murphy agreed with Sen. Milich’s opinion on intent. Murphy said, she did not believe that Chief of Staff Larkins’ intention was to ignore the senate. However, Murphy did say it’s important for everyone to know what is expected of him or her if they are a part of student government.
“Some people come into these positions hoping to get a resume builder. Student government is about helping the students, and making sure that whatever we are doing is benefitting them. If people aren’t doing their jobs, senators aren’t coming to meetings, executive and legislative branch aren’t communicating effectively, then this job can’t be done as well as it should be,”. Murphy said.
Murphy went on to explain why precedent is so important in student government, and why officials must do what is statutorily required of them.
“Precedent is very important. These positions are made for a reason, these statutory requirements are made for a reason, things that have happened in the past that have told past writers of legislation that these rules need to be in place. Because of that, and because of history to prevent future issues I think it is very important to follow the rules.”
Milich does not agree with Murphy’s views on this Recommendation of Censure being important in terms of precedent. Instead, Milich believes that creating new legislation is a more effective way to ensure future officials do their job.
“The decision in LJR is not going to set the precedent. Writing new legislation, writing correct legislation; we’ll just make new rules and then we won’t need to set precedent. People will simply have to follow the rules,” Milich said.
“That is why I have introduced legislation making sure that the president, vice president chief of staff all have to come in more because that’s what’s going to fix it, not one decision on a very, very unspecific censure,” Milich continued.
After the LJR committee made its decision to move the Recommendation of Censure to the Senate Floor, Knight News reached out to Student Government President Chris Clemente.
President Clemente said, “Since the Senate is still considering the censure, I would not like to comment at this time. It is not my wish to influence the Senate’s vote. However, I am monitoring the process closely and hope the Senate thoughtfully considers the censure.”
Knight News has also reached out to Chief of Staff Larkins, but did not hear back from him.
The Senate will hear the Recommendation of Censure on the senate floor next Thursday.