Updated Saturday, Aug. 29 at 5:13 p.m.
Student Government Comptroller Matt Handverger was accused of negligence and failure to complete his mandated weekly hours in impeachment charges filed Friday, according to an SG source familiar with the situation.
A special session of the Senate Committee of Rules and Privileges will convene Sunday at 2 p.m. in Mary Graydon Center 245 to determine the validity of the charges leveled against Handverger, according to an SG press release.
“I take these charges seriously, though I know that they have no merit,” Handverger wrote in a statement to The Eagle. “[I] will address them further at the special session of the Committee on Rules and Privileges.”
Handverger is required to spend at least 18 hours a week working for the SG, except during holidays or by authorization of the Senate, according to the SG bylaws. For his work he was in line to receive $3,500 for the academic year. Handverger was also required to work 20 hours per week over the summer—except for three weeks of vacation—for which he received $5,000.
Last semester, the SG dealt with a scandal involving the AUTO program and its oversight. The Undergraduate Senate voted to censure then-Director of AUTO Zach Schwartz for misuse of the AUTO vans. That censure was then revoked due to questionable conduct during the meeting. Eventually Schwartz was censured again, according to minutes of the SG meetings.
“After the fiasco last semester, the Senate is asserting its oversight,” said another SG source with knowledge of the charges. “It looks like we caught the big fish.”
Senator at large Jared Alves filed charges claiming that Handverger violated Article V, Section ii, Subsection 3 and Article VII, Section I of the SG bylaws.
According to Article V, Section ii, Subsection 3, “It is the responsibility of officials receiving compensation to submit timesheets that are complete and correct to the Comptroller. Such timesheets shall be under their signature. It is the responsibility of the Comptroller to assure that timesheets are complete and correct.”
Handverger is also accused of violating the oath of office which reads “I (state your name) do solemnly swear | that I will diligently and faithfully | execute the duties and responsibilities | of the office of (office name), | that I will abide by the governing documents | of the Student Government | and that I will work to my fullest abilities | to promote the interests and welfare | of the students of American University.”
“Ultimately, this is not something that I enjoy pursuing,” Alves said in an e-mail. “But I realize that this action is necessary for the Student Government to function to the degree expected by the student body.”
The Committee on Rules and Privileges is comprised of all the committee heads, their deputies and the speaker of the Undergraduate Senate. A simple majority vote of the committee will determine whether the charges are valid. The matter is then referred to the whole Senate, according to the SG bylaws.
” I think the [Committee on Rules and Privileges] will find the charges valid and refer it to the senate,” a source familiar with the situation said.
After further examination and personal testimony from Handverger, the Senate will debate and vote on the charges. A two-thirds majority vote in favor of impeachment will automatically remove Handverger from his position as comptroller, according to the SG bylaws.
The SG announced this news a day after AUTO Commissioner Cory Ward resigned due to time constraints and other reasons he elected to keep private. Handverger, whose responsibilities include oversight of the AUTO program, was appointed as acting AUTO commissioner in the meantime.
“While it is unfortunate that it has come to this point, such authority is entrusted to the Senate in the name of oversight,” SG President Andy MacCracken said in a written statement. “I welcome this type of investigation and am sure the whole of the Executive Branch will cooperate fully.”