ASPSU impeachment proceedings

Several months after Student Fee Committee member Ron Lee accused the Pre-Law Society of financial mismanagement and its adviser of making threats against him, he finds himself up against impeachment charges.

Several months after Student Fee Committee member Ron Lee accused the Pre-Law Society of financial mismanagement and its adviser of making threats against him, he finds himself up against impeachment charges.

He has since filed his own impeachment request against ASPSU President Jonathan Sanford.
In a letter submitted to the Judicial Board on Jan. 25, ASPSU Senator P.V. Jantz claims that Lee’s actions warrant impeachment.

According to Jantz’s letter, Lee used his position on the SFC to carry out a personal agenda, made false accusations that damaged a student group and acted outside his position in an unethical manner, among other concerns.

In response to Jantz’s impeachment request, Lee said that any accusations made against him that he used his position as an SFC member to further his own agenda are false.

“I have not done anything unethical and it’s disconcerting that a student leader would take action without doing some of the investigation first,” Lee said. 

Lee said Jantz erred in using two articles on the Pre-Law Society incident published by the Spectator and the Vanguard, as evidence for his claims.

The Vanguard
reported that, in late 2009, Lee publicly accused PLS President Ashley McClain of mismanaging funds after Lee failed to receive $5 owed to him after he paid the $15 membership fee with a $20 bill.

McClain said the delay was an oversight and the result of a change in the group’s leadership.

Lee also alleged that the group’s adviser, philosophy professor Kevin Hill, intimidated him on a public listserv—the adviser has since stepped down. McClain said Lee’s accusations negatively impacted the group’s reputation and ability to operate after the loss of their adviser.

Lee claims the two articles are biased and should not be used as fact.

“It’s personally very insulting to me that I’m doing everything I can do to make a positive contribution to the university and to have that undermined,” Lee said, adding that he is confident he would be found innocent if the impeachment process is reliant upon facts.

According to Brad Vehafric, chair of ASPSU Judicial Board, the board considered Jantz’s request within a week after its submission.

“The board’s job is to investigate whether Lee should be up for impeachment,” said Daniel Lyons, president pro tempore of the Student Senate. “If the board agrees [with Jantz’s letter], then the case will go forward to the Senate, who will vote whether to remove Ron Lee.”

However, at Tuesday’s Senate meeting, it was determined that the Judicial Board cannot make a decision because three out of four members recused themselves from the case.

“At this point, the Judicial Board is not able to ethically come to a ruling due to conflict of interests or direct involvement in the case,” Vehafric said in an e-mail.

Lyons said that two of the justices who withdrew, McClain and Anandi Hall, are members of the Pre-Law Society and thus were directly involved with the case. The third justice, Casey Payseno, is a coordinator for the Queer Resource Center, a group for which Lee serves as an SFC liaison. 

Vehafric said the case would now go directly to the Senate without the decision of the Judicial Board since the ASPSU Constitution does not have specific guidelines on how to resolve internal conflicts.

“I came to the conclusion that having only one active voice on the Judicial Board defeats the purpose, [but also] understand that simply dismissing the allegations against [Lee] is equally ethically compromising,” Vehafric said in an e-mail.

Vehafric said he wants to add a guideline to the ASPSU Constitution in the upcoming election that would outline what ASPSU should do in the event of a justice’s recusal from a case.

In a letter submitted to the Judicial Board requesting that it investigate impeachment against Sanford, Lee said Sanford has failed in his responsibilities as student body president. Lee claimed he did not approve requests for funding in a timely manner and alleges that Sanford was overheard by students to have called Jackie Balzer, vice provost of student affairs, a derogatory term.

“He’s just trying to fight back and is blaming me,” Sanford said. “I have no idea why.”

Lee also said that Sanford made defamatory statements against him by telling other students and staff that Lee made a physical threat toward another student.

“If you read the [impeachment] paper work it doesn’t even make sense, it’s illogical,” Sanford said. “It’s just all his personal opinions and thoughts, there are no actual facts.”

On Feb. 9, Vehafric e-mailed Sanford to inform him that they had received impeachment charges against him and will investigate the claims Lee made. According to Lee, the Judicial Board will work on Sanford’s case after Lee’s case is decided.

“I have respect for the [Judicial] Board and its proceedings and will make sure I don’t get in their way,” Sanford said.