Comptroller Matt Handverger’s impeachment trial finally came to an end last week after Senator at Large Jared Alves dropped the charges in the early hours of the Friday morning. That announcement was followed closely by word that Handverger would resign, effective 5 p.m. Thursday.
Handverger, who planned to work the 15 hours per week mandated by the SG Bylaws, now faces something he didn’t anticipate when the semester started—time off.
“I get three full days off,” Handverger said in an exclusive interview with The Eagle. “[I’m] trying to get an internship, I had an interview last week, I have an interview this week. [I’ll] relax, be a normal student, write to my SG senators and tell them what I want as a student.”
The impeachment proceedings began Friday, Aug. 28, when Alves charged Handverger with having failed to complete his duties over the summer and with negligence. Handverger was watching the Student Union Board sponsored Broken Lizard comedy show when he found out.
“[Speaker Anthony Dunham] sent me the e-mail at 4:33 p.m. I had left the office at 4:15ish, on Friday. I was going to enjoy my Friday. I went to Broken Lizard and wasn’t going to check my e-mail ‘till that night or Saturday morning.”
An Eagle reporter alerted to the impeachment charges by an SG press release, asked the comptroller for comment. Handverger said that he would have expected a phone call from people he considered friends.
“Over the summer I mentioned day in and day out, ‘we’re going to be really close friends.’ [It’s] kind of like, to use a frat thing, we’re pledging together, we’re going through this whole thing. I expected a phone call,” he said. “We joked all the time, my last name is Handverger ... Hamburglar and they would go ‘nom nom nom’... We joke[d]. I thought we were friends.”
Immediately after hearing the news, Handverger went to his friend Tommy Fijacko’s apartment to discuss options, and plan for the proceedings. Fijacko served as Handverger’s special counsel during the impeachment.
“I read the two bylaws that I broke,” he said. “My understanding is that I didn’t complete 20 hours one week, and that because I didn’t complete 20 hours one week ... I didn’t abide by the oath, so it’s a catch-22.”
Handverger argued that his tenure as comptroller was not marked by incompetence and willful neglect as some had characterized it.
“The bylaws for comptroller are the most bull things ever. It’s like two lines,” he said. “I don’t understand how you can be negligent for two lines if you’re doing both lines.”
The SG bylaws require the comptroller to track the SG budget and run the AUTO program.
Over the summer, Handverger had trouble attempting to procure a new van for the AUTO program. Trouble, he said, that is the result of lack of personal experience in buying cars and more “bureaucracy [in the SG and AU administration] than the federal government.”
“All I did was just try to get a new van,” he said. “It’s a lot harder than it looks.”
Whatever the problems, the comptroller maintains that simple communication could have prevented the impeachment proceedings.
“This whole thing could have been prevented with a simple conversation, saying ‘Hey, we’ll go to the Senate if you don’t clean up your act,’” he said. “It was a miscommunication somewhere between me and everyone and everyone back to me.”
Handverger, who went home to Massachusetts over the Labor Day weekend for a break, says that the SG set back their summer goals by focusing on his perceived shortcomings.
“One of [the SG’s] goals was increase the legitimacy of SG this summer and for the rest of the year—this just tarnished that,” he said. “That’s just like saying ‘Ah, legitimacy? Pish! We want to get rid of Matt first.”
Handverger had said earlier in the impeachment proceedings that he doesn’t hold grudges, and that “they kill work and they kill work ethics.” Despite this, the comptroller isn’t sure if he can ever forgive those responsible for bringing the charges against him.
“[The anger] is still there. I try not to hold grudges; it’s a goal of mine. But someone tried to ruin my income and reputation, it’s not cool in my book.”
After The Eagle broke the story that senators and certain executives discussed impeaching Handverger before the summer, he realized that it would be impossible to continue working for the SG.
“If they were out to get me the whole time, I mean they just needed the senate and a reason,” he said. “They made up a bull reason and they finally had the senate in town to get rid of me. I don’t know what they gained from it, in fact they lose more from having me out.”
Stefanie Dazio contributed to this report.