By Amrutha Sivakumar, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 24, 2013
Party politics took a toll on the Central Student Government agenda on Tuesday night as assembly representatives made accusations against Law student Jeremy Keeney, who was nominated to be student general counsel, of being ethically compromised.
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The University Election Commission is a five-member body responsible for settling election-related disputes in CSG. A member of the assembly is required to serve on UEC each year. Keeney, who served as an independent assembly representative for the 2012-13 academic year, was nominated for the position.
The assembly members voted to appoint Keeney as SGC with 20 yes votes, six no votes and 12 abstentions.
During the last CSG election cycle in late March, LSA senior Chris Osborn — political party forUM’s presidential candidate — was disqualified from the CSG elections on grounds of election code violations despite garnering a plurality of the popular vote. Candidates of opposition party youMICH, Business senior Michael Proppe was instated in his place.
Rumors that Jeremy Keeney had been promised a position in the executive branch of CSG in return for ousting forUM through the UEC from the election circulated, along with an e-mail that allegedly proved Keeney’s prior affiliation with youMICH.
In April of last year, University alum Shreya Singh, former youMICH presidential nominee, sent an e-mail to assembly representatives and youMICH affiliates, recommending candidates for select executive and legislative positions, including that Keeney was qualified to be instated as the rules committee chair. At the time, Keeney was a representative on the assembly, popularly elected as an independent.
At the time, youMICH party members served as the majority in the assembly, giving them the majority vote to select and confirm candidates for committee-chair positions.
Keeney denied all allegations of affiliations with youMICH prior to the UEC hearings.
While the youMICH e-mail suggests that Keeney was affiliated with youMICH, Proppe said the decision to instate Keeney as chair of the committee was solely due to the fact that Keeney was the most qualified candidate for the position.
While Keeney previously served as a lawyer for the youMICH team during the legal proceedings that followed the 2012 CSG election, he was appointed externally by the Central Student Judiciary to serve youMICH — along with now-defunct party OurMichigan — and was paid for his services.
As a result, when Proppe announced his nomination of Keeney for a position on his executive branch, the Executive Nominations Committee conducted an investigation on the alleged affiliations that may compromise Keeney's impartiality.
Architecture senior John Arnold, chair of the Executive Nominations Committee, said although Keeney was a qualified candidate for the position and he recognized that a lot of the allegations were “hearsay,” the committee felt that Keeney was ethically compromised.
“We feel that because of (Keeney’s) prior involvement with youMICH, it would have been good ethical practice for him to recuse himself from the (UEC) hearings,” Arnold said. “Confirming a candidate that has been intimately involved with the past two (election trials), we don't think is a good way to ameliorate the issues.”
In an August interview, former student general counsel Lukas Garske, an ex-officio and non-voting member of the last UEC, said he made all UEC members disclose their party affiliations prior the hearing and that the decision to oust the forUM candidates was a “very clear-cut decision.”
In a written statement, Garske said there was no proof confirming rumors that Keeney had “accepted a deal” from youMICH that promised he would be appointed as SGC if the UEC disqualified Osborn from the presidency.