Health and wellness referendum may face further charges

Another petition has been filed against ASUC President Connor Landgraf for his use of an executive order to place the health and wellness referendum on the ballot in the recent ASUC election.

This is only the latest petition filed against Landgraf alleging constitutional bylaw violations arising from his use of the executive order. Two other charges were filed previously, the most recent of which was rejected by the ASUC Judicial Council before it could go to trial.

Devonte Jackson, campus organizing director for the Office of the ASUC External Affairs Vice President, filed the petition Wednesday, claiming that Landgraf missed a constitutionally mandated deadline for issuing the executive order that placed the referendum on the election ballot.

Landgraf issued the executive order that placed the health and wellness referendum on the ASUC election ballot in late March. He utilized the executive order after the referendum, which institutes a student fee to build new recreational facilities, was submitted too late for the ASUC Senate to vote to place it on the ballot by the filing deadline.

Landgraf said that he doesn’t expect Jackson’s charges to stand because individuals need to file lawsuits within seven days of an election.

“It’s frustrating because it’s been 42 days since I issued the executive order, so I don’t understand why it’s being filed,” Landgraf said.

Similar charges were filed last week by Cooperative Movement Senator Jorge Pacheco alleging that Landgraf “overstepped his authority” and “damaged the integrity and process of the Spring 2013 ASUC elections” by filing the executive order.

The Judicial Council ultimately voted to reject Pacheco’s petition, claiming that “the petitioners had delayed and/or interfered with the judicial process.”

Jackson’s petition argues that the Judicial Council should uphold the ASUC’s democratic process by overturning Landgraf’s executive order.

There are some, however, who claim that Jackson’s lawsuit bears a striking resemblance to Pacheco’s.

“I don’t think there’s any merit to (Jackson’s) lawsuit since it basically rehashes many of the same arguments that Pacheco used,” said ASUC Attorney General Hinh Tran.

Conner Nannini, the campaign manager for the health and wellness referendum, said he suspects that Pacheco may have been involved in the creation of Jackson’s lawsuit.

“It seems like the text from Jackson’s legal brief is 90 percent the same as the text used in Pacheco’s arguments,” Nannini said. “It won’t surprise me if Pacheco is using Jackson as a proxy for making the same arguments.”

Pacheco firmly rejected this assertion, claiming that it is natural that Jackson’s lawsuit would resemble his.

“My legal brief was widely distributed, so it’s not surprising that this new lawsuit is really similar to mine,” Pacheco said.

For Pacheco, however, it is not about winning or losing.

“I hope (Jackson’s) lawsuit is successful, but even if it isn’t, at least we raised awareness about the judicial process and the systematic abuse of the constitution,” Pacheco said. “The fact that so many charges have been filed means this is not an isolated incident but a recurring problem.”

According to Tran, the Judicial Council will decide in one to two days if Jackson’s lawsuit merits a trial.

Contact Jason Liu at [email protected]