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Former Progressive and Communist Parties’ leader Alfredo Ortiz filed two cases against Senate President Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) after eligibility debate sparked at the July 11 Senate meeting.

Ortiz also filed a case in regard to the June 17 trial where Santiago Perez was exonerated of all charges in a four-to-one vote, calling for further investigation into the evidence initially presented. 

The cases are still pending to be heard by the UF Supreme Court. Ortiz is seeking $1 in damages. 

Santiago Perez was not aware of the cases being brought forth against them until Ortiz provided a statement to The Alligator during the July 11 senate meeting.

“While I cannot be certain of the motives with which he is bringing forth cases against me, if he is motivated due to personal issues we have amongst ourselves, I am saddened that he uses Student Government as a way to retaliate against me,” Santiago Perez wrote. “If he is doing these in good faith, I am certain that these cases will be resolved through the proper forms.” 

The Fabrication Investigation 

The Rules and Ethics Committee met June 17 for nearly four hours to consider the expulsion of Santiago Perez. 

Minority Party Leader Bronson Allemand (Gator-District A) said he would file a case against Santiago Perez during the announcements section of the June 13 Senate meeting.

Allemand’s charges against Santiago Perez included malfeasance, moral turpitude and forgery. These charges pertained to Santiago Perez allegedly filling out a voter record for former Change Sen. Anaum Virani at the Feb. 21 Senate meeting. 

Santiago Perez was exonerated of all charges and they believed the committee made the right decision given the inconclusive evidence. 

Before the July 11 Senate meeting, Ortiz filed a memorandum to the UF Supreme Court calling for a more in-depth investigation of the events that took place. 

“If Oscar indeed fabricated a voter record, that should come to light so that future senators know not to engage in similar conduct in the future,” Ortiz wrote. “If he did not, then his innocence should not be subject to uncertainty because it would not be fair to his reputation.” 

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Ortiz believes Santiago Perez was vindicated on a technicality because the investigation was cut short due to the Rules and Ethics Committee lacking the ability to subpoena more evidence.

Santiago Perez said they don't have any further comments regarding the case and said the evidence speaks for itself. 

The Gag Case

Hours before the July 11 Senate meeting and during, discussion sparked surrounding Ortiz’s eligibility to give public comment. 

As outlined in Rule IX of the UF Rules and Procedures of the Student Senate, each member of the Student Body may speak in public comment by submitting an electronic request that specifies the matter on which the student wishes to speak to the Senate president and Senate secretary by 5 p.m. the day of the meeting. 

Santiago Perez noted there is precedent for denying or questioning if a student or person is eligible for public comment, citing a situation where a previous summer replacement senator was denied public comment due to her inability to be present.

Under Florida Statute 800.101(1)(C), a student is defined as a person who is enrolled at a school, Ortiz noted. He also said the UF Orange Book (Regulation 4.040) defines student as "any person currently admitted, enrolled, or registered for any university program, regardless of the medium of the program, or degree-seeking status, or when not enrolled or registered for a particular semester, who is eligible to enroll in future terms without seeking readmission".

Ortiz hasn’t been able to reach SG advisers regarding these definitions or seek relief through the UF Supreme Court because the Court doesn’t meet over the summer. 

Santiago Perez said they are entrusted to uphold the laws as they are despite their opinions on what the laws should be.  

They also denied Ortiz’s accusation of refusing him the right to speak because of a Code of Ethics Complaint and said they were never informed of Ortiz’s statement. 

Santiago Perez denied his public comment request after advisers had informed he was not a student, they wrote. 

“I do not make the determination of who is a student,” they wrote.“I merely relayed the information advisers told me.”

After further discussions, advisers informed Santiago Perez that Ortiz meets the student qualification to be granted public comment privileges, Santiago Perez wrote in an email sent to The Alligator July 16. 

Following advisers’ instructions to Santiago Perez, Ortiz will be allowed to register for public comment going forward.  

Contact Vivienne at Follow her on Twitter @vivienneserret.

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Vivienne Serret

Vivienne Serret is a UF journalism and criminology senior, reporting for The Alligator's university desk as the student government reporter and managing editor for The Florida Political Review. She loves debating, lifting at the gym and singing.

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