Council removes Hixson from office

The Student Government Association Judicial Council removed Andy Hixson from the position of vice president for public relations April 12, following his formal impeachment by the Senate on April 5.

Vice President for Administrative Affairs Joe Myers led the prosecution against Hixson in the April 12 impeachment trial and argued that Hixson has been in dereliction of his duties. Judicial council ruled in Myers’s favor 4-0.

“They did the right thing,” Myers said. “Judicial council recognized the truth.”

The ruling came after over a month of debate over impeachment proceedings. The SGA Ethics Committee, chaired by Myers, initially attempted to impeach Hixson March 5, on charges that Hixson has been absent from a majority of executive board meetings and also failed to post his 10 required weekly office hours this year.

The committee sent a letter of charges to the Judicial Council, but the council ruled March 19 that the committee’s process was unconstitutional because it did not obtain a petition signed by two-thirds of the Senate.

Following the council’s March ruling, Myers drafted a petition requesting Hixson’s impeachment. Myers, along with SGA President Chris Pace and Vice President for Student and Academic Affairs Trey Orndorff, approached Senators individually to request their signatures, according to several Senators.

Myers, Orndorff, Executive Vice President Eric Fegan and Sens. Amanda Bailey, Adam Billiter, Gary Darna, Sheree Davis, Tiffany Evans, Brett Hardebeck, Ben Harrison, Abdul Kazi, Joseph P. Mayer III, Jody McFarland, Tye Mortensen, Paul Myers, James Pollitt, Josh Ruth, Derek Schaeffer, Christina Smith, Mike Tobergta, Michael Vaughan, Jennifer Wallace and Richard Washington signed the petition.

Chief Justice Dave Caddell announced Hixson’s impeachment at the April 5 Senate meeting.

Myers called Tobergta, Pace and Orndorff to testify during the trial. The witnesses attested that Hixson did not fulfill his duties as required by the SGA constitution. Tobergta said he kept track of Hixson’s office hours, and Orndorff verified that Hixson has only attended one executive board meeting this semester.

“We’re just asking you to take responsibility,” Pace told Hixson during his testimony.

Myers also introduced new evidence against Hixson during the trial. He said that SGA had conducted an investigation of allegations that Hixson had contributed to underage drinking while on January’s SGA retreat.

Myers refused to reveal who conducted the investigation.

“I am somewhat disturbed that someone consciously chose to withhold information from the Dean of Students’ office regarding possible serious violations of the code of conduct and possible violations of state law,” said Dean of Students Kent Kelso. “It appears that that information was released at a time of their choosing and a time of their benefit.”

Kelso said someone should have informed him of the allegations long ago, because the retreat happened nearly three months ago. He also said that SGA does not have the power to conduct investigations of this type, and that matters of this kind are to be handled by the Dean of Students’ office.

According to Kelso, the way SGA handled this situation was “poor judgment” on its part.

He also said that the Dean of Students’ office plans to investigate the matter – not only the allegations, but also what individuals have withheld information from his office.

“What was the alterative motive in choosing to present this in the time, place and manner that it was?” Kelso asked. “We have a significant mess on our hands, and it’s gonna take some time to work our way through that.”

Sen. Nathan Hagler, who served as Hixson’s legal counsel during the impeachment and removal proceedings, argued that all the charges against Hixson were hearsay, because no official documents could prove that Hixson did not fulfill his office hours or attend executive board meetings.

Hixson said he was “surprised” by Judicial Council’s decision because he thought they were “trustworthy” people.

“The Judicial Council placed the burden of proof on me, not the prosecution,” Hixson said. “It was up to me to prove I was innocent instead of the other side proving me guilty.”