A Student Association expenditure form obtained by The Hatchet and information from sources within the SA raise questions about senior senators who potentially misused student funds last spring. Numerous senior SA officials including President Phil Robinson have declined all comment on the matter following a “gentlemen’s agreement.”
An expenditure approval form filed by nine-year Sen. J.P. Blackford (G-SEAS) for an April 30, 2002 “Student Association Exec/Senate Mixer” listed a $136 Riverside Liquors purchase as part of a $276.74 tab for the event. The receipt from Riverside, included with the EAF, does not give an itemized list of purchases, and is described on the SA form as “soda and ice.”
Two other receipts attached to the EAF from Costco and Shopper’s Food Warehouse total more than $50 in Kool-Aid, cranberry juice cocktail and orange juice. A second Costco receipt, for $88.42, also lacks an itemized list of purchases.
Senators including Blackford and Finance Committee Chair Dan Moss (U-SBPM) and Executive Vice President Eric Daleo all failed to return multiple phone calls and e-mails regarding the matter Wednesday.
The allegations of financial impropriety come after Robinson said that executive and legislative leaders had come to a “gentlemen’s agreement” Tuesday, resolving recent monetary disputes.
Senators threatened to impeach Robinson earlier this week over a separate EAF that lacked a required signature. Robinson continued to defend the EAF Wednesday night, but has stopped criticism of other senators following initial remarks that he knew of other improper senator EAFs. Robinson refused to elaborate on the agreement between the executive and legislative branches.
Sen. Kate Rocco (U-ESIA) called the agreement “very disturbing.”
All student groups seeking SA funds for an event are required to fill out an EAF to obtain reimbursement.
A Riverside Liquors employee said additional inquiries have been made concerning the April 30 receipt and said it was “unlikely” such a bill would have been accounted for solely by “soda and ice.”
The “mixer” took place after last year’s final Senate meeting. All purchases listed on the EAF were made within four hours before the meeting.
Senior Raj Parekh, who served as undergraduate-at-large senator last year said former EVP Josh Singer and Blackford both invited senators to Singer’s townhouse for “food and drinks,” in the final minutes of the meeting.
Parekh called the party a “misuse of student funds” regardless of whether alcohol was served.
“It was not an official mixer,” he said. “The Senate was not consulted and I would have been against it.”
Parekh said he did not attend the party but doubted that $136 was used for “soda and ice” alone.
Current senators also said they are critical of the Riverside purchase, demanding that Blackford resign if alcohol was purchased.
“I encourage J.P Blackford to tell us what the money was spent on,” said Sen. Mark Hershfield (Law School).
“If the allegations are true, J.P. Blackford needs to do the honorable thing and resign,” he said. “If he does not resign, the Senate needs to take the appropriate steps, every senator should vote to remove him.”
Rocco echoed Hershfield’s skepticism noting, “it sounds like a lot of money to be spending on soda and ice.”
Sen. Don Jacobsen (G-CCAS) agreed.
“Get real,” he said. “Who buys $136 worth of soda and ice at a liquor store after he’s already been to Costco and Shoppers?”
-T. Neil Sroka contributed
to this report.