Student Association Executive Vice President and presidential candidate Morgan Corr is being investigated for giving SA funds to a student group before getting its endorsement and for not following SA guidelines when transferring the money.
Although he admits that he overlooked an SA bylaw when transferring the funds, Corr defended the transaction by saying it was in good faith. He vehemently denied that he distributed any funds in exchange for an endorsement.
Corr transferred a total of $2,000 from his executive budget to three student organizations last month. The International Affairs Society received $1,000 from Corr’s budget Feb. 8, while Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association each received $500 each Feb. 27, according to SA financial records. Three weeks after the money was transferred to the IAS, GW’s second-largest organization, it endorsed Corr.
Corr said he choose the three particular student groups, out of GW’s more than 400, based on what he perceived as a lack of appropriate funding from the SA Finance Committee during the initial allocation process in September and co-sponsorship process throughout the year.
Both IAS President Jesse Baker, a senior, and Corr said that the funds were not transferred to the organization in return for a presidential endorsement.
“The IAS got the money because they deserved it, and I hope I got the IAS endorsement because I deserved it,” Corr told The Hatchet this week.
But some other members of the SA are questioning if the transaction is a violation of SA bylaws.
Junior Jeff Goodman, the SA vice president of judicial and legislative affairs, launched an investigation this week into the transfer of Corr’s funds to the IAS, MSA and Students for Justice in Palestine. Goodman will be releasing a report to the Senate on Friday recommending what sort of action – if any – should be taken against Corr. Goodman said the maximum penalty for a violation of the bylaws is impeachment.
Goodman said SA bylaw 409 requires that funds given directly to a student organization from an executive budget be approved by the SA Senate Finance Committee. Corr said he alerted the committee of the transfer but admits that he did not seek its prior approval, as the bylaws require. Corr said the move was a “simple oversight.”
“Who was wronged here?” Corr said after Tuesday’s SA Senate meeting. “These organizations needed the money, and I wasn’t going to let bylaws hold student organizations down.”
Baker echoed Corr’s comments and said he felt the SA was merely giving money to a student organization that had been slighted of funds during the initial allocation process and the co-sponsorship process. But the Senate Finance Committee reviews student organizations’ spending in January and can choose to provide additional funding to them for the second semester; the committee chose not to give the IAS more funding during the midyear review process, though it generally gives few student organizations additional money at that point.
Baker added that the entire executive board of the IAS listened to presentations of each of the candidates running for SA president, then voted on whom the organization would endorse. This is the first time in three years that the IAS has endorsed a candidate for SA president.
Corr accused Goodman of attempting to inject politics into an act that aided students. Goodman has not supported any SA presidential candidate publicly.
Corr said the money transferred to the three organizations was available because of a discount the SA received from its recent operation of the Colonial Coach shuttle, a free bus service Corr initiated this year that takes students to Dulles International Airport in Virginia at holiday breaks. As a result, he had extra money in the executive vice president budget.
SA Sen. Michelle Tanney (U-At Large), chair of the Finance Committee, said the committee will be holding a meeting Thursday evening to discuss the transaction and to vote on its approval. Tanney ran last year on the same slate as Corr.
Goodman added even if Corr receives the committee’s approval, because the transaction has already been made, he may still be in violation of bylaws.
Goodman said “If money is taken back, that doesn’t change whether a violation has occurred,”.