Student Association Executive Vice President Eric Daleo may have allocated Senate funds toward the GW Farmer’s Market without going through the proper channels, according to a report issued this week by the investigative arm of the SA.
At issue is whether Daleo “initiated” the market, held on Kogan Plaza in October, making it eligible for direct Senate allocations without a general Senate vote. Any unauthorized use of Senate funds constitutes a high-level financial bylaw violation.
The report, issued by Justin Oshana, vice-president for Judicial and Legislative Affairs, states Daleo wrongly classified the Farmer’s Market as an event initiated by the Senate in his fall budget in order to make it eligible for $2,500 in Senate-only funding.
According to bylaws, the Senate can allocate its funds on programs initiated by the Senate, expenses directly related to Senate operations or outside programs approved by three-quarters of the body.
However, according to the report, it was not Daleo but former SA Executive Vice President Josh Singer who initiated the market. Singer, who made the market part of his platform in his failed run for the SA presidency last year, was documented in multiple campus publications as the project’s initiator.
Singer said he had the original idea for the market but did not initiate it.
“No one I have ever spoken to has ever said that anyone other than Josh Singer initiated the Farmer’s Market,” Oshana said. The report recommends that the Senate censure Daleo for violating the bylaws.
But Daleo is taking issue with the report’s findings, attesting that the market was run out of the SA Senate office, making it an SA initiative.
“I don’t take credit for the initial idea,” said Daleo, who ran on Singer’s platform as vice president, “but I initiated the event. It was planned and organized out of my office.”
Daleo said he appointed Singer chair of the GW Farmer’s Market, making him a Senate staffer. He added that Singer holds a mailbox in the SA office and used SA phones as evidence for his assertion that the SA initiated the event. He said the market, which he dubs the GW SA Senate’s Farmer’s Market, eventually received $1,059.50 in Senate funds.
The SA Finance Committee issued a contradictory report Sunday, listing six ways in which Daleo did “initiate” the Farmers Market and stating that funds were dispersed “in accordance” with the bylaws.
Oshana said he was “skeptical” of the Finance Committee report because of its timing hours after his report.
Oshana said he received an e-mail Sunday from Sen. Mark Hershfield (Law) questioning the Farmer’s Market entry in the Senate budget.
Hershfield said he had been reviewing bylaws and said the September entry “looked a little interesting.” He said he had not been informed that the Senate was initiating the Farmer’s Market and believes Daleo should have received the body’s consent.
“No one ever saw the itemized budget; all we got to vote on was $9,000,” Hershfield said, referring to the full Senate allocation. “All we were told was that the Senate needed $9,000 for essentials … I don’t consider the Farmer’s Market an essential.”
Sen. Omar Woodard (U-ESIA) also noted that the Senate lacked information about the market.
“We didn’t know that the Farmer’s Market was coming out of the Senate’s budget,” Woodard said. “As Senators we voted on initial allocations, I just knew (the Senate was) getting a 100 percent increase (in total budget).”
Woodard said he was surprised to see the SA listed as the sponsor of the event on posters last fall and approached Daleo.
“He told me everything was legitimate and the Senate supports the Farmer’s Market,” Woodard said. “I dropped it.”
Daleo said he believes Hershfield has personal reasons for making accusations about fall allocations in January.
“We are one month away from the election … (Hershfield) hasn’t been a big fan of my administration,” Daleo said, adding that he is running for reelection as EVP.
Sen. Chrissy Trotta (U-CCAS) agreed.
“Mark’s has a history of causing conflict in the Senate,” Trotta said.
Hershfield said he has nothing to gain from investigating Daleo, adding that he is just trying to make the Senate transparent.
“All I want from him is an apology … I am not looking for his impeachment,” Hershfield said.
Oshana said he will be submitting his report to the Senate Tuesday.