ReMichigan presidential candidate Gibran Baydoun faced charges of improperly handling Michigan Student Assembly funds at a pre-trial in the MSA Chambers at 10 p.m. last night. The actual trial will be tonight at 5 p.m. in MSA Chambers.
Student General Counsel Michael Benson filed a Central Student Judiciary case against Baydoun on behalf of MSA. CSJ accepted two of the acts Benson presented, the repercussions of which could prohibit Baydoun from being an authorized signer for any organization registered with MSA. Baydoun could also face a $50 fine.
The funds, which were raised for University of Michigan Dance Marathon, were recovered Wednesday morning, according to MSA President Sabrina Shingwani.
Any money raised should have been donated directly to the UMDM office immediately following the event, MSA Treasurer Lisa Averill said. Baydoun, who served as Homecoming Committee Chair, instead deposited the $2,527.42 that was raised from T-shirt and water bottle sales and donations into his personal checking account.
Averill said she realized the funds were not in the proper account Sunday when Baydoun mentioned he still had to write a check for UMDM, which will take place this weekend. But when Averill confronted Baydoun about the funds by e-mail and in person, she said Baydoun still failed to deposit the money.
After pressure from the MSA executive board, Baydoun deposited the funds into the proper account Wednesday morning, about five months after the money was raised, Shingwani said.
One of the charges Benson filed against Baydoun was for embezzlement, but CSJ dropped the charge.
Baydoun said he was happy CSJ dropped the embezzlement charge and was confident tomorrow’s trial would show no purposefully harmful intentions on his part.
“I can definitely say that there has been no malicious intent on my part,” Baydoun said. “And I think we will see this tomorrow at the CSJ case.”
Shingwani said she believes this might have been a simple oversight, but that it’s still MSA’s responsibility to carry out the proper legal processes.
“Although this could be considered an honest mistake, we have to acknowledge that there was still a wrongdoing,” she said. “We want to be as open and transparent as possible, and it’s MSA’s responsibility to go through the proper judicial process.”
Because the pre-trial took place before the election results were released, two of the actions against Baydoun had to do with the election, but both were withdrawn.
One of the withdrawn actions attempted to remove Baydoun from the ballot, negating his candidacy. The other action filed requested a temporary restraining order against the student government election board, which would have kept the results of the hotly contested elections internal until a resolution was reached or the 48-hour window ended.
Benson said that though it was difficult for him to take legal action against a fellow assembly member, he felt it was necessary to take action.
“We’re confident that we’ll have a successful outcome, that MSA will prevail,” Benson said.