Hours before ASUC President Connor Landgraf publicly announced that he would not veto SB 160, the controversial divestment bill, he received a letter that gave him pause. It guaranteed a settlement on charges against him if he agreed not to veto the bill, which passed 11-9 in the ASUC Senate.
Landgraf said he received the letter, written by Cooperative Movement Senator Jorge Pacheco, around 4 p.m. Tuesday. In the letter, Pacheco stated that he would settle the suit against Landgraf’s executive order to put the health and wellness referendum on the spring 2013 ballot if Landgraf opted not to veto SB 160. A settlement was ultimately reached on the suit against Landgraf’s executive order around 5:30 p.m. that day.
Landgraf said that he had already made the decision not to veto SB 160 at the time Pacheco slipped the handwritten letter into his office. Landgraf communicated in a text message to Pacheco that he was “disappointed and shocked” by the letter and immediately sent it to ASUC Attorney General Hinh Tran to make it clear that Landgraf’s decision regarding SB 160 was not influenced by Pacheco’s offer.
“By not vetoing, I will settle,” the letter reads. “You should make this decision on your own conscience, but this is something I will do if you stand behind your senators and demonstrate everything that would appease any and all of my concerns.”
Pacheco and Student Action Senator Mihir Deo are the original filers of the suit against Landgraf. Deo, however, said he was not aware of the letter and was taken aback when he heard about it.
“When I saw (the letter), I thought I was personally taken for a fool,” Deo said. “The fact that he used something important to all students to leverage a political opinion of his was very disappointing and unacceptable.”
The settlement followed previous indication that Pacheco was ready to take the suit to trial.
Tran said in an email that “while President Landgraf and I did attempt to negotiate a settlement that would address Senator Pacheco’s concerns, he indicated to us that he would only be satisfied by an annulment of the referendum.”
Pacheco said he did not seek to exert political capital to influence Landgraf’s decision.
According to Pacheco, the letter to Landgraf was simply an effort to explain his thoughts on SB 160, and he was not trying to influence the president’s decision on whether to veto the bill.
“I’m not trying to say that settling wouldn’t happen if he vetoed,” Pacheco said. “I just wanted to engage a conversation of executive authority, and that’s basically it. Connor wouldn’t let that affect his decision.”
Tran said that his office is still looking into the legality of such a letter and that it may violate a bylaw. He was not aware of a precedent for this sort of situation.
Read the full text of the letter below:
Contact Jeremy Gordon at [email protected].