The GSG assembly voted Friday to launch an impeachment investigation into its president, Stephanie Cork, on the grounds of a potential misuse of the group’s funds.
In response to the investigation announcement, Cork motioned for a review of the Governance Committee and for an impeachment investigation of Vice President of Legislative Affairs Adria Schwarber and Vice President of Financial Affairs Devin Scott, alleging potential collusion against her. By Oct. 31, Cork had told the Graduate Student Government Executive Committee and The Diamondback that she had planned to resign during Friday’s meeting but made no motion to do so.
The assembly struck down a motion in a 19-11 vote, with five abstentions, to investigate Schwarber, but a motion to adjourn ended the meeting before votes were cast on the motions to investigate Scott and the seven-member Governance Committee.
“I appreciate everyone’s patience during this process and am proud to serve the graduate students of the University of Maryland College Park,” Cork said in a text message on Saturday.
Scott wrote in a text message on Sunday that “the accusations Stephanie Cork made are unfounded.” Schwarber declined to comment.
Stamp Student Union’s Student Organization Resource Center gave Scott access to GSG spending data when he began his position last July, he said. When he read through the files in September, he noticed a roughly $30,000 of overspending in the budget for fiscal 2017.
The Budget and Finance Committee found irregularities in the budget that revealed transactions made without the assembly’s approval, including expenditures of an estimated $6,000 on a disability summit and an estimated $12,000 on a salary increase for the director of operations, said Casey Cavanagh, GSG atmospheric and oceanic science department representative and committee member.
Scott shared the irregularities in the budget with the Budget and Finance Committee, which he chairs. The committee had never seen this data, Cavanagh said. The Budget and Finance Committee, GSG’s director of operations and its president are the only groups with access to the organization’s budget, according to GSG bylaws.
At the Oct. 6 GSG meeting, the assembly voted to send its concerns back to the Budget and Finance Committee and to Governance Committee for further review. The Governance Committee — which includes Schwarber, three elected assembly members and three non-GSG members appointed by the president — decided the overspending warranted an official investigation, Schwarber said.
“Any action by an Executive, Department Representative, Staffer or Appointee of the Graduate Student Government that is contrary to or exceeds the authority granted by the governing documents is subject to investigation by the Governance Committee,” the committee wrote in a statement.
According to GSG bylaws, the Governance Committee is “the highest authority in the GSG concerning all matters of interpretation of the GSG Constitution, Bylaws, legislation, Executive Orders, and all other statutes,” and is also the entity responsible for conducting impeachment investigations.
In the next month, the GSG’s Governance Committee will gather materials and conduct interviews to assess whether there is reason for Cork to be indicted, Schwarber said. It will present its findings with recommendation at the Dec. 1 GSG assembly meeting, where the assembly will vote to proceed or terminate the impeachment proceedings.
GSG Public Relations Vice President Katie Brown said during the meeting she felt Cork’s accusations against Schwarber and Scott were “out of order.”
“There has never once to my knowledge been any suggestion or conversation about any lack of integrity or any question of integrity of the VPLA, the VPFA or the Governance Committee,” Brown said.
Schwarber said she didn’t know if the motions would be voted on during the next meeting or if they must be reintroduced. There is no precedent for current circumstances, she said.
“The majority of sessions that we have in GSG are a million miles away from the kind of behavior we saw [Friday],” GSG history department representative and Rules Committee member Guy Aldridge said. “This is something that we have to resolve, no matter what the outcome is, so we can get back to the normal business of discussing how we can make things better for grad students.”
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article stated there was about a $30,000 deficit. There was about $30,000 in overspending. This article has been updated.