We brought our allegations before the Senate and attempted to rescind Wikan’s appointment to the budget and appropriations committee.
We got Senate President, Libby Shaw, to read selections from a public records request which confirmed Wikan never served as district secretary, was hired as a clerk and had applied with the “intention of interning” under the actual district secretary.
Wikan also provided her own “evidence” in the form of a letter from Florida House of Representatives member Jennifer Sullivan. Shaw began to read the letter from the top before Wikan cut her off saying, “I think the second paragraph is the most relevant.”
We didn’t realize this until later, but the paragraph Wikan got Shaw to skip was the one that says “while serving as my intern, she had the opportunity to work alongside others in my office as she was getting trained in the District Secretary position.”
Luckily, “later” was mere seconds after Shaw finished reading because Minority Party Leader Ashley Grabowski stood up and inquired if any part of the letter actually said Wikan had served as district secretary, causing Shaw to read the first part of the letter, ending with the quoted passage above.
The majority party still attempted to defend Wikan. “Based on just grammatical sentence structure; if you’re trained to fulfill a position then you, as an intern, she was trained until she fulfilled the position. That’s just how sequential grammar works — mom was third grade teacher we learned that really well,” Allocations Chairwoman Katie Hernandez incoherently blurted out.
Grabowski shot back: “I graduated with an English degree from the University of Florida; that’s not correct.”
Shaw quickly moved us into a vote that ended up with Wikan keeping her seat on the budget committee.
In public debate after the vote, we displayed the evidence against Wikan which included selections from our public records request as well as screenshots from Wikan's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter bios; all identified her as a "Former FL Legislature District 31 Secretary."
Wikan responded, “I find it despicable that members of the Inspire Party would go to such lengths to accuse me of providing misinformation to the Senate body…. If a signed statement today did not prove that I served as district secretary, I don’t know what will.”
Bold words for someone lying.
After the meeting a couple things happened.
I received an email from Sullivan in response to an email I sent to her office earlier.
“What was specifically her job title?” I asked.
“She helped perform the duties of that of a District Secretary,” Sullivan responded.
I filed another public records request to the state legislature since I wanted to see how Wikan’s letter from Sullivan came to be. I was shocked to receive emails from Wikan communicating with the district legislative aide, pushing the aide to make changes to the letter to support her falsehood.
"In addition - can we potentially say 'ultimately moving into that position.' after it states 'While serving as my intern...' My job application for the Florida Legislature states 'District Secretary.' I want to ensure that the letter reflects that," Wikan wrote.
The aide responded, “Unfortunately, I was not able to make the changes prior to the Rep going into a meeting ... I apologize for the inconvenience.”
This explains why we ended up with a letter that did not support Wikan’s narrative.
Weeks later, all references to previously serving as district secretary of such disappeared from Wikan’s social media bios. I sure wonder why.
Finally, after accumulating enough absences, Wikan lost her Senate seat. She successfully appealed her resignation and was reinstated but lost her budget seat in the process. She did not reapply.
Zachariah Chou is a UF political science junior. His column appears on Thursdays.