Two weeks after his presidential campaign was taken off the Student Government Association election ballot, Orchard Hill Governor Seth Perkins and his cabinet have been called before the Senate for an impeachment trial.
“Mishandling of funds is a very serious act – in fact, the Rules and Ethics Subcommittee of the Administrative Affairs Committee has already examined the evidence presented in the audit by Secretary Vitale, and has chosen to pursue impeachment proceedings against all four of the OHAG officers,” Stefan Herlitz, chairman of the Rules and Ethics Subcommittee, said in an email to the Daily Collegian.
He added, “All four impeached officers are still to be considered innocent at this time. The Rules and Ethics Subcommittee has decided that the charges are both serious and credible enough to warrant removal from office – actual guilt may only be established by a vote of the full Senate, which shall occur on (March) 31, after those impeached are given the opportunity to present their cases.”
Lt. Gov. Isilda Gjata, Treasurer Victor Paduchak, Secretary Cameron Locke and Gov. Perkins all were notified via email over the weekend. Herlitz pointed particularly to Perkins and Paduchak, who as treasurer was in charge of writing purchase orders and financial statements.
In an interview before spring break, Perkins was adamant that he had not done anything morally unsound.
“If you asked me personally as a matter of conscience, I did not do anything wrong,” Perkins said. “I did not try to do anything corrupt or anything of that nature.”
One of the issues addressed in the audit was the purchase of headphones as school supplies, an action that Perkins qualified as a “mistake.”
“We see headphones as very, very, very much school supplies because language students use them,” he said. “In the … audit it was said that we used them to incentivize and that the first 10 people who showed would get them, which we did … they were used as an incentive. However, they are school supplies we believe because language students and also other students (use them). … So we fully believe that they are school supplies.”
He added, “If we had said headphones on the purchase order, it would have been caught by Lloyd or the people down at the student business center as not being proper. So it really was a mistake that we didn’t write them on the purchase order. So that’s where that all comes from – us interpreting them as school supplies and it not being by SGA standards or by the student center standards.”
Perkins added that the cabinet had spoken to a former SGA president who now works with Student Legal Services about the matter, and the former president told them he saw no grounds for impeachment.
OHAG’s accounts and finances are currently frozen due to the results of an audit conducted on the area government by Finance Secretary Lindsay Vitale. In the audit, Vitale found that money had been misused in a number of ways and thus froze the accounts until further notice, potentially putting Orchard Hill’s Bowl Weekend in jeopardy.
Perkins said that he had considered resigning in order to unfreeze the accounts and allow for OHAG to continue planning for Bowl Weekend, but Vitale told Perkins that his resignation would not have an effect on Orchard Hill finances.
“I truthfully care for my constituents and I thought at the time that my resignation would unfreeze our accounts and we could continue our work on Bowl Weekend,” Perkins said, adding, “I was willing to, so to speak, be the martyr, I guess, and doing that for the sole purpose of unfreezing our accounts, but that isn’t the case anymore. So I personally don’t see any reason why I should have to resign or be impeached with that knowledge being known.”
Perkins said that he has spoken to Vitale and she has told him that the accounts will be unfrozen in time for Bowl Weekend.
“Lindsay says she likes Bowl Weekend and she will do everything she can to get that to be mobilized,” he said. “It is a bit of a setback because spring break is coming and I need to start renting inflatables and we need to have purchase orders and the power of the purse by then, but we haven’t been able to do that yet. But that doesn’t mean that stalling will prevent us from doing so.”
Also, the officers have the option to resign at any time prior to the vote by the full Senate and have the charges dropped.
Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected]