Senate President asks committee chair to step down, leave senate


Budget and Allocations Committee Chair and Sen. Kyle Nelson submitted his letter of resignation March 11 after Senate President Mack Volk asked him to step down from senate for conduct issues.

However, Nelson is still running in the spring 2010 general elections for a general senate seat on the Red Party ticket, despite an oral agreement with Volk to withdraw his name from the ticket and to refrain from running until at least fall 2010.

Nelson denied the existence of an oral agreement with Volk, saying that Volk instead gave him three options: resign from senate and B&A chair, remove his name from the spring 2010 general elections, or leave Student Government permanently.

Nelson said he chose the first option and called the third option “absurd,” thus keeping his name on the current Red Party’s ticket.

The Red Party’s Vice Presidential Candidate Laura McGregor and its Campaign Manager Abhishek “OB” Bera submitted Nelson’s platform and photos for the Spinnaker’s elections advertisement and confirmed that he was running March 12, Elections Supervisor Erica Richey said.

Nelson also confirmed that he was still running for a general senate seat the evening of March 12, Richey said.

Volk said he technically can’t enforce the oral agreement. Red Party presidential candidate Tom Blanchard and running mate McGregor, respectively, declined to comment on the matter.

“I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to hurt anyone’s campaign,” Volk said.

Volk said the decision to ask for Nelson’s resignation and the terms of the agreement have no affiliation with the current election.

Volk said he decided to ask Nelson to step down after witnessing various instances of misconduct and after receiving various complaints from other senators. Volk refused to be more specific as to which in- stances brought him concern.

According to e-mails between Nelson, Volk and SG Treasurer Matthew Samra, in one instance, Nelson failed to inform someone with a funding request when a B&A committee meeting was until three hours before it began Feb. 15.

Because of this, Samra told him to schedule an emergency meeting to hear the person’s request.

“You have an obligation to the students to give them a reasonable amount of time to prepare for the meeting,” Samra said in his e-mail. “It is not my job to notify the students when they are supposed to come up before B&A, so please do not tell them that.”

In another e-mail, SG Adviser Laurel Kendall reprimanded Nelson for sending copies of legislative e-mails to Blanchard March 9.

“Please refrain from copying him on any future legislative branch related issues unless you plan to copy each of the other candidates, as well,” Kendall said in the e-mail. “It is essential that Student Government maintain an unbiased stance in all matters relating to governance issues.”

Student Body President and leader of the Red Party John Barnes then told Kendall, in a separate e-mail, he’d asked Nelson to send Blanchard and other cabinet members copies of e-mails.

Nelson confirmed all this to be true, stating that he indeed had been following Barnes’ instruction in copying Blanchard on the e-mails.

In another e-mail March 4, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jessica Amick called Nelson’s behavior “disrespectful,” as he’d been verbally abusing Richey in the office.

“I explained to you that the way you were speaking about Ms. Richey was unprofessional, against our code of ethics, and I was not going to allow that behav- ior to happen in a cabinet where I sit as Pro-Tempore,” Amick said in the e-mail.

Richey also said Nelson acted out March 3 in the cabinet office.

Becca Humphrey, Nelson’s girlfriend who was seeking a general senate seat in this semester’s elections, had turned in a photocopied senator application to Richey. Photocopies aren’t allowed, therefore, Richey disqualified her. Upon finding out Richey could not reverse the disqualification, Nelson swung the door open, damaging the wall, and yelled at Richey, she said.

Nelson claimed that his actions with Richey concerning Humphrey were not inappropriate, disrespectful or unprofessional.

There is an SG Judicial hearing regarding Humphrey Wednesday, March 24 at noon in SG’s Courtroom.

Though Volk refused to give any further specific instances of Nelson’s misconduct, he did comment on Nelson’s behavior as chair, overall.

“He made a lot of mistakes, and we don’t want those mistakes around [Student Government],” Volk said. “There’s laws, and laws aren’t meant to be broken.”

Volk also refused to give specifics on which laws or procedures Nelson may have violated, stating that he didn’t want to “throw [Nelson] under the bus” as he was “technically innocent until proven guilty.”

“We just want to make sure that no sneaky backdoor politics [are] going on,” he said. “We’re supposed to be working out issues on the [Senate] floor instead of outside the [Senate] chamber walls.”

Nelson started his first term as senator in spring 2009 and the Senate elected him as B&A committee chair in November 2009. He won against two other senators — Miguel Ortigao and Kyle Zaffran. Zaffran re- fused to comment on the situation, and the Spinnaker’s attempts to reach Ortigao were unsuccessful.

“At the time, he was very interested in the budget process … and Student Government,” Volk said. “He would always speak up and let his voice be heard. He wasn’t too pushy, but no matter what, he would stand his ground. His head and his heart started in the right place, but his [more recent] actions just weren’t following it.”

Until the general elections are complete, Volk will serve as interim B&A committee chair unless another senator shows interest in the interim position. As of press time, Volk had not yet appointed anyone to the seat.

Nelson declined to comment any further with the Spinnaker on any of the aforementioned matters. The Spinnaker will keep you up-to-date on Nelson’s status via Twitter @UNFSpinnaker and our Web site,