Senators discuss funds investigation

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September 19, 2008

10:35 AM

The Student Assembly finance committee met last night to discuss the ongoing investigation into purchases made using the off-campus account debit card last spring. The SA decided to investigate every expenditure made from the account since August 2007, following former SA Vice President Zach Pilchen’s ’09 admittance last month that he made personal purchases from the account.

The investigation is being conducted by the finance committee and headed by Senator Caroline Mullis ’09 with the help of SA Secretary of Finance Yael Gilboa ’11. The committee plans to issue a final report Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Mullis contacted Pilchen and current SA President Valerie Hopkins ’09 individually via e-mail with a list of purchases made using the off-campus account. Mullis instructed Hopkins and Pilchen to fill in purchases they can account for. As of last night, both spreadsheets had been returned, though Mullis has yet to examine Hopkins’ submission.

In the coming week the committee will compare the two explanations and further contact Hopkins and Pilchen to clear up remaining questions.

Sens. Matt Beato ’09, Walter McClean ’09 and Brittany Fallon ’11 raised concerns about the direction of the investigation. The three wanted to ensure any final report issued by the committee included a number of provisions.

“Do we want to have a conclusion saying, you know, we feel that looking at these purchases we should get rid of the check card?” Beato said. “I think we are absolutely going to make that conclusion.”
McClean agreed.

“I think the final report needs to include our process, it needs to include the pertinent facts, which can include lists of things spent,” McClean said. “It needs to have conclusions, what we think about the process, what we think about the facts, and then it needs to have a section for upcoming reforms.”

One of the discrepancies highlighted by the committee was the fact that presentations compiled and conducted by former SA Secretary of Finance Andrew Blasi ’10 were not put up on the SA website, nor were they itemized. Blasi did not retain copies of the presentations, they said. The finance committee attributed this to a lack of knowledge on how to post the presentations online and determined that future presentations will be saved and made available to the public.

According to minutes from a Sept. 12 senate finance committee meeting, a check was recently written by Gilboa withdrawing funds from the frozen off-campus account, which was closed Sept. 5, pending the investigation’s conclusion.

The check, made out to the club softball team, was written before the freezing of the account as a result of the “Rock the Vote” voter registration drive undertaken by the senate last year. In the drive, the SA gave student funds to College clubs and organizations that helped register their members to vote.

Gilboa wrote the check at the behest of the club softball team, which had repeatedly requested the funds.

At last night’s finance committee meeting, Gilboa acknowledged that she had authorized the check and that it would not happen again.

“Literally half the checks were written out before, but the date is such that it is after the off-campus account was frozen,” Gilboa said last night. “To be on the safe side, I didn’t send the rest of them out.”

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