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SGA in disarray: Corruption allegations rock first special session of new admin

“I find no reason for an impeachment inquiry because I have resigned my position as justice effective immediately,” senior justice Ansel Aimee Garcia said. | Raphael Fernandez/The Cougar

Accusations of malfeasance and corruption against prominent members of the Student Government Association marred the first special session of the 61st administration, including the impeachment of a Supreme Court justice and the defense of the attorney general, who was suspended in a previous session. 

Senior Supreme Court Justice

The Senate almost unanimously passed a resolution to impeach senior justice Ansel Aimee Garcia for allegedly violating the election code and bylaws. This resolution came after a presentation by public policy sophomore Kadon Miller, who provided evidence in the form of text messages from Garcia of what Miller claims to be violations. 

Miller said that the messages proved that Garcia violated the SGA governing documents by supporting Arriaga during his candidacy, intending to abdicate her position as justice to run for SGA president and admitting to her impeachable offenses. 

A screen grab from Miller’s presentation which allegedly shows Garcia openly admitting to engaging in impeachable offenses. | Screenshot

“It is imperative that somebody who knowingly broke the election code and betrayed the trust of the student body by trying to seek her political agenda to run for president is impeachable, and she knew that malfeasance was an impeachable offense,” Miller said.

Garcia initially responded to the accusations made by Miller after he finished his address but abruptly resigned her position as senior justice.

“This is the last thing I would be ready to face. The judicial branch and the students within the judicial branch do not deserve this,” Garcia said. “With that being said, I find no reason for an impeachment inquiry because I have resign my position as justice effective immediately.”

However, Garcia retracted her resignation, claiming that it wasn’t an official resignation and that she would have to consult with the court before making it official.

Regardless of her intent to resign, the Senate will still undergo the impeachment process for Garcia, which includes a trial presided over by SGA Chief Justice Carlos Hernandez. However, Miller called into question Hernandez’s integrity by claiming that there is a conflict of interest between him and Garcia due to his membership with SOMOS UH, an organization that Garcia leads as president. 

However, Kadon’s surprise revelation to the SGA senate was not immediately well received, and some members questioned the method of Kaden’s timing and the gathering of evidence. Specifically, some senators were questioning why Miller was making these accusations now, especially since the texts Miller showed were from last year. 

“The reason as to why I did not bring this up earlier was because I was a second-semester freshman who was not familiar with the governing documents,” Miller said. “It is imperative that I bring this up now.”

Ultimately, the Senate overwhelmingly supported Miller’s bill nominating Garcia for impeachment.

“I definitely think that there was enough evidence for impeachment,” said Speaker of the Senate Sebastian Ballesteros. 

Attorney General 

“I believe Diego was looking to impeach me so that his Supreme Court could choose a new Attorney General under his liking,” Tao said.|Raphael Fernandez/The Cougar

Attorney General Matthew Tao defended himself against allegations of procedural misconduct that led to his recent suspension. The controversy, stemming from a dispute over election protocol, unfolded amidst scrutiny and debate within SGA.

The dispute traces back to a ruling issued by Tao on March 7, which alleged a violation of the Election Code by the For All Cougars party, represented by now-President Diego Arriaga. Arriaga swiftly appealed the decision, citing procedural irregularities and challenging the validity of Tao’s judgment.

The ensuing legal battle culminated in a suspension verdict delivered by the SGA’s Supreme Court. The Court found merit in Arriaga’s claims of procedural misconduct, resulting in Tao’s suspension for 30 calendar days.

“The day before the case, I found Diego not to be in violation; therefore, rendering the court case useless,” Tao said. “When I went to inform the judge that I found Diego innocent, the judge goes on a power trip and refused to let me drop the case and went ahead and took the case on for himself.”

During the meeting, Tao seized the opportunity to refute the allegations leveled against him. He defended his actions, alluding to underlying bias of those in executive positions. 

“Corruption is pervasive in this administration. Diego has full control over the Supreme Court, which has drastic implications not only on my case, but it undermines the integrity of all cases,” Tao said. “I believe Diego was looking to impeach me so that his Supreme Court could choose a new Attorney General under his liking.”

Tao claimed that Arriaga violated election code multiple times during his campaign. The senate rigorously questioned Tao on the validity of his arguments against Arriaga as he was unable to provide substantial evidence. 

“Diego falsified his financial documents and didn’t include all the necessary materials, which qualifies for an immediate disqualification for his candidacy. Additionally, there was a campaign volunteer campaigning on grounds where it is not allowed,” Tao said.

Along with claims of election code violations, Tao claimed that Arriaga had personal relations with the Election Commissioner. 

“He should have been disqualified because his girlfriend is a conflict of interest as the Election Commissioner,” Tao said. “If it wasn’t for the institution incessantly pressuring them to get leniency and even straight up lie and cover up for Diego’s violations, he would not be president.”

Arriaga claimed that his relationship with the election commissioner did not begin until after the election concluded.

“I have evidence to show that me and her did not start talking in any form of romantic ways until after the election, and I can prove that without a shadow of a doubt,” Arriaga said. “Why should my personal life be brought up to scrutiny?”

However, senators rebutted to claim that the relationship started well before then.

“There is no way in hell that this relationship started the very day after the campaign concluded,” said Sen. Jesus Nieto. 

Tao wrapped up his speech by emphasizing his claim of corruption within the bones of the organization. 

“I am extremely conclusive on the fact that supreme court senior justice Ansel Garcia has expressed her allegiance to Diego, which overtakes the voting of my case and undermines the integrity of all others.” 

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