Senator petitions for BEC chairwoman’s impeachment at emergency MSA Senate
Henderson’s performance came under question earlier in the semester when her delayed production of the handbook forced Senate to pass it in one Senate meeting instead of two.
Nov. 18, 2015
The Missouri Students Association called an emergency full Senate meeting Tuesday night after senators raised concerns about the handling of infractions by the Board of Elections Commissioners chairwoman, Emma Henderson, earlier that day.
Henderson told The Maneater at 3:30 p.m. that slates Ejaz/Parrie and Gomez/Hanner had committed major infractions. The Ejaz/Parrie slate arrived at a polling location four hours early when they did not have permission to be there. The Hanner/Gomez slate advertised their campaign using the app Pocket Points, which violates the BEC mass email policy. At that point, both slates were told they had to cease campaigning for the duration of the election.
At 9:19 p.m., Henderson said that the BEC had decided to offer a sanction to both slates. This would allow the slates to continue campaigning if they paid a $300 fine for the infraction.
A major infraction would cause a three-day suspension of campaigning. Since the election is over at 5 p.m. Wednesday, it would suspend both campaigns for the duration of the election.
The $300 fine that would replace the major infraction is associated with a third minor infraction. This would allow both slates to continue campaigning for the duration of the election.
At around 10:40 p.m., Senate Speaker Kevin Carr called the start of emergency full Senate with 23 senators in attendance.
Discussion centered on whether Henderson’s actions were grounds for her impeachment as well as what the slates should do about the charges in the meantime.
Candidates could appeal the BEC decision. However, appeals take multiple days, which would not work as the election ends Wednesday, Nov. 18. Henderson offered the plea bargain and told the slates that if they accepted it, they would not be allowed an appeals process.
Senators took issue with the decision’s lack of accordance with the BEC Handbook.
Henderson’s performance came under question earlier in the semester when her delayed production of the handbook forced Senate to pass it in one Senate meeting instead of two. Senators could not agree at the time whether the passage of the handbook was in accordance with the bylaws or not.
Syed Ejaz, Heather Parrie, Haden Gomez and Chris Hanner all came to the meeting to give their perspectives.
Senators were also concerned by the way Henderson communicated with the candidates during the process. According to candidates, the only communication they had with her was via phone, and Ejaz said he only received his infractions in writing after he asked her.
Some senators thought Henderson broke a portion of the bylaws that dictated the board have no contact with the candidates while deliberating about their penalties. Gomez said he had contact with Henderson when turning in a form, and that she said she was working with justices to come to a solution.
Parrie said that when she spoke with Henderson, she told her she was offering the bargain because wanted candidates to be able to poll the next day. Some senators said this constituted bribery. However, the handbook, bylaws and constitution do not mention accepting or offering bribes, and others disputed whether the exchange was really bribery.
The handbook also dictated that the chairperson give all candidates a copy of the M-book, which the candidates said did not happen.
Parrie also said the slates were concerned about the fairness of penalties. She said similar infractions were being treated differently among slates.
Senators discussed passing a resolution to absolve all slates of their penalties from the past week but eventually decided to adjourn for the night. Before the session ended, they voted to advise the slates to agree to the plea agreement, but not to pay until further discussion.
After senate adjourned, Campus and Community Relations Committee Chairman Alex Higginbotham submitted a petition to impeach Henderson to Carr, who accepted the petition.
Under the impeachment procedures defined in the bylaws, the Operations Committee would be the body to try Henderson. Chairman Dan Paterson decided not to hold an emergency committee that night.
Around midnight, various senators at the Operations meeting entered the Office of Student Conduct. Carr said the meeting took place between the BEC, senate and the BEC’s legal counsel and consisted of a “technical breakdown” of the infractions against the slates.
“No matter what comes out of this process, we’re examining the fairness of the election, and also the consequences of what happens under BEC sanctions,” Carr said. “Because elections are live, and because consequences happen in real time, every hour that a campaign loses to table is an hour they could’ve been persuading people to vote.”
Carr said impeachment proceedings were a “possibility.”
“I presume that conversation (about the responsibilities of the BEC chair) will take place tomorrow,” he said. “Whether or not impeachment proceedings will take place, I do not know.”
The next full Senate meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Leadership Auditorium.