The Daily Gamecock

Updated: Charges submitted to impeach Student Body President Kaufman

<p>Kaufman, right, being inaugurated to the office of the presidency by Chief Justice Ross Abbott, left. The impeachment charges allege that Kaufman did not fill the post of Elections Commissioner within two weeks of his inauguration. </p>
Kaufman, right, being inaugurated to the office of the presidency by Chief Justice Ross Abbott, left. The impeachment charges allege that Kaufman did not fill the post of Elections Commissioner within two weeks of his inauguration. 

Charges to impeach Student Body President Jonathan Kaufman were submitted Wednesday morning, according to the office of Student Body Vice President Lee Goble. The submission, penned by Kirby, alleges that Kaufman failed to nominate an Elections Commissioner two weeks after his March inauguration.

This would be grounds for impeachment by failing to "uphold the Constitution and Constitutional Codes of the Student Government."

"In doing this," the charges read, "Jonathan Kaufman has undermined the integrity of, brought disrepute upon, has betrayed those entrusted him with the position of, and has acted in an manner unfit for the role of the Student Body."

However, emails show that Kaufman offered the position to third-year sociology and Russian student Cory Alpert on March 31, less than two weeks after Kaufman's inauguration on March 18. 

Alpert himself says that he was nominated within the allotted time, although he was not yet confirmed to the post by Student Senate.

In an email, Kaufman said that he followed the codes. 

"An elections commissioner was nominated after I took office in the spring," he said. "After interviewing the nominee, the Student Senate tabled my nomination and the nominee eventually withdrew his nomination. Nomination of this candidate fulfilled the relevant requirements outlined in the Student Government Codes."

Though this charge was not included in the impeachment document itself, the Student Government codes state that in the event of a vacancy, a new Elections Commissioner must be nominated within two weeks. Alpert dropped out of the nominating process in June.

Nearly three months later, no new Elections Commissioner has been officially presented to the Student Senate by Kaufman, let alone confirmed by the legislative body.

The process has begun. Kaufman said that an unnamed Elections Commissioner has been officially nominated "earlier this month," and Student Body Vice President Lee Goble said that Kaufman submitted a nomination to his office "a couple of days ago." 

According to Goble, this nomination will be presented to the Student Senate this Wednesday evening. This would be well beyond the two week deadline the codes set for filling a vacancy. According to Kaufman, he fulfilled this requirement by nominating an Elections Commissioner last spring.

The impeachment charges come before an important deadline in the Elections Commission process, Oct. 1. By that date, the Elections Commissioner must nominate all of his or her assistants before the Student Senate.

Without an Elections Commissioner already confirmed, this part of the code can't be fulfilled.

The Elections Commission oversees the election process each spring, handling both the technical aspects and pushing student involvement in the electoral process. Alpert, who served as Deputy Elections Commissioner from 2013 to 2014, said that the October deadline isn't just an arbitrary date — it's a necessity, and one that he believes Kaufman can no longer meet.

"In my opinion, as a former member of the Elections Commission, you need to have them by October 1st, not only because of the codes but because it is impractical to run an election," he said. "There's no way it could happen by October 1st."

Alpert stressed the importance of having a functional Elections Commission.

"This is the matter of the continuity of Student Government," he said. "This is a matter of making sure the voice of the student body is legitimate, is heard, is valid. If you don’t have someone managing this election, that’s a huge concern."

Kaufman believes that his unnamed nominee will be able to meet the Oct. 1 deadline for assistant Elections Commissioners: "I am confident that, pending confirmation, the new Elections Commissioner will be able to fill the Commission pursuant to the Student Government Codes," he said.

Kirby said that he is bringing the impeachment charges on behalf of the student body.

"There's no malicious intent behind it. A large part of this administration's campaign has been transparency and accountability, but we're expected to just allow codes to be broken that have been deemed 'minor,'" he said. "In my book, no code is a minor code. If we're going to follow the law, let's follow the letter of the law."

Kirby intends to argue his case further in front of the student senate Wednesday evening. 

The impeachment proceedings do not necessarily mean that Kaufman will be forced to vacate his position. In order for a president to be removed from office, a few steps need to take place.

The Chief Justice of the Constitutional Council would have to convene an Impeachment Council within 10 business days of the charge. The council is made up of the five members of the Senate Judiciary committee.

If they decide in a two-thirds majority vote that Kaufman violated the Constitution, they would then send that recommendation to the Student Senate.

If the Senate finds the president in violation of the Constitution in another two-thirds vote, only then could he be removed from office. 

Cory Alpert is a regular guest columnist for The Daily Gamecock.