The resolution to impeach UF Student Body President Michael Murphy failed at the Student Government judiciary committee meeting Thursday morning because it was deemed illegitimate.
Some of the resolution’s student authors said this meeting is invalid, which is why they didn’t attend. Now, senators on both sides of the impeachment debate are at odds over how to interpret SG laws. What happens next is uncertain.
UF Student Senate judiciary chairman Branden Pearson wrote in an email the impeachment body won't consider the impeachment resolution due to his committee’s decision.
Ben Lima, a co-author and Inspire Party Leader, said if Emily Dunson, the Senate president and leader of the impeachment body, doesn’t schedule the hearing, then the authors of the resolution will consider appealing the decision to the SG Supreme Court.
Judiciary committee member Madeleine Bennett emailed The Alligator about the resolution including factual inaccuracies.
“Primarily, the resolution alleges that student fees were expended to ‘support a political party,’” the email said. “However, the University of Florida spokesperson, Steve Orlando, stated the exact opposite on several occasions.”
Bennett included statements from Orlando that all say the speakers weren’t campaigning or breaking rules.
Orlando previously told The Alligator UF administration remains separate from all SG matters.
President Fuchs said UF attorneys told him the event was legal before it happened, according to POLITICO.
Judiciary committee member Colson Douglas said the resolution had no legal standing. He didn’t answer further questions on why he saw the document, which was signed by about 100 people, as illegitimate.
The last time SG senators filed an impeachment resolution against a Student Body president was in 2009 against Kevin Reilly. It was voted on by the impeachment body one week after it was filed, according to Alligator archives.
Lima said the judiciary committee’s decision isn’t valid because the impeachment resolution, per the Student Body Constitution, must go through an impeachment body hearing. The impeachment body consists of the senators elected in the Spring and led by the Senate president.
Additionally, Lima said the Student Body Constitution requires the impeachment body to hear an impeachment resolution, and Dunson must schedule an impeachment body hearing.
The constitution says, “The Student Senate president shall preside over the impeachment body and may vote if the Student Senate president is a member of that senate class.”
Emails released on Oct. 30 showed an exchange between Murphy and a President Donald Trump re-election campaign officialon bringing Trump Jr. to campus. About a week later, students demanded Murphy’s resignation at a Senate meeting, accusing him of misusing student activity fees for the Oct. 10 event. Two weeks later, senators hand-delivered Murphy the impeachment resolution.
Dunson emailed the impeachment resolution to Pearson Monday night, requesting his committee review the resolution, stating SG Senate Rules and Procedures require it, which the authors of the resolution said is untrue. Dunson didn’t respond to The Alligator’s emails, calls or texts for comment.
Pearson then emailed the authors of the resolution Wednesday saying his committee will hear the resolution at Thursday’s meeting. Pearson cited Student Body Statute code 306.3, which says the Senate can assign a committee to review resolutions. Lima responded to Pearson that the rules don’t specify a committee to hear impeachment resolutions.
In an email to The Alligator, Pearson wrote it is “required by Student Body Law” for the judiciary committee to review the impeachment resolution.
According to Lima’s email read receipt records, Dunson, Murphy, UF President Kent Fuchs, SG Senate Adviser James Tyger and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Kim Pace read his email Wednesday.
The SG codes don’t give someone who didn’t file an impeachment resolution the authority to submit it on the authors’ behalf, Lima said. Lima wrote to Pearson that the impeachment resolution was exclusively submitted to Dunson for consideration.