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Ethics violations lead to referral for removal of two student senators

March 14, 2013

Two student senators, including a Senate presidential candidate, were referred for removal to the Senate ethics committee due to violations of the Senate’s administrative policies, according to Vice President Matthew Hobbs.

The final decision on the senators’ status will be determined at the March 19 Senate meeting. A two-thirds vote by the Senate will be needed to remove either of the two senators from office.

Hobbs submitted the referral letter regarding senators A.J. Hansen and Riley Haynes to Ethics Chair Sam Tauchen after noticing the senators had not logged the required office hours detailing their work for Senate.

Now the ethics committee will submit a recommendation to be formally voted on by the entire Senate in which the senators in question could be removed from office, sent a letter of reprimand or have nothing done.

Hansen is the athletics representative on Senate and Haynes is a presidential candidate and current legislative affairs director.

Both Hansen and Haynes said they have completed the work for Senate, but had failed to log the work in the designated binder.

“We all get busy. I just simply forgot to log them. I know I messed up, as do all of us,” Hansen said.

Hansen, like Haynes said that he respects the decision of the committee, but both senators said they feel that removal may be a bit harsh.

Haynes said that while he knows he failed to log the hours, it doesn’t take away from the work he did.

“People who know me know that I am a very involved person and that I take my job with Senate very seriously,” Haynes said.

The Senate requires that each Senator fulfill office hours, or work done for Senate, according to the Senate’s by-laws. For a regular senator five office hours are required every two weeks, whereas a director or officer is required to complete 10 office hours each week. When a senator completes office hours, they are required to log it in a designated book in the Senate office, according to Hobbs.

For each office hour not fulfilled, the senator will receive a demerit point from Hobbs.
Student Senators who accumulate 10 demerit points in one semester will be referred for removal.
It is the duty of the vice president to automatically refer any senator who accumulates 10 or more points to the ethics committee for removal, according to the Senate by-laws.
The senator will not serve on or return to the Senate unless an appeal is successful.
If the senators are removed, Senate President Bobbi O’Brien can either appoint replacements or call for a special election. O’Brien spoke at the hearing and said the ethics committee should decide “based on if the Senate was better off with these two (senators) on the Senate or not.”

The Senate moved into closed session to discuss the personal issues and ultimately their own decision.

Tauchen said he could not discuss the decision of the ethics committee and that the committee’s recommendation will be seen in the Senate’s upcoming agenda. The committee also voted in closed session.

However, according to Wisconsin Open Meeting Laws, Wis. Stat. 19.88 (2) and (3),  “The meeting’s minutes must record how each member voted on roll calls, and each paper ballot must identify the member voting, as well as that member’s vote. If a voice vote is taken, only the results of the voice vote must be recorded.”

That vote record was nowhere to be found when the Student Voice inquired.