ASUC attempts to fill attorney general seat, avoid shutdown

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For the second consecutive year, the ASUC must take action to avoid a government shutdown after failing to appoint a new attorney general before the end of the last academic year.

The ASUC Senate appoints an attorney general — a nonpartisan position — who is responsible for upholding the ASUC constitution and bylaws, educating the new senate class about the bylaws and amending the bylaws with senate approval.

According to the ASUC bylaws, if the senate does not appoint a new attorney general by its sixth regular meeting of the academic year, the association must stop operating until the position is filled. In turn, the ASUC would be unable to continue distributing funding to student groups on campus, one of its central functions.

Last year, Jeremy Gordon, former opinion editor of The Daily Californian, was nominated for the position but did not receive the necessary two-thirds senate approval. His affiliation with the Daily Cal’s Senior Editorial Board and his lack of experience in the ASUC office were cited as reasons for disapproval, though he said it was due to his ties to the Greek community.

In response, the senate extended acting Attorney General Kevin Sabo’s term until a new appointment could be made. Sabo’s own appointment in the beginning of the 2013-14 year was met with controversy due to his alleged connection to student political party CalSERVE after working in Nolan Pack’s executive vice presidential office. Pack was a CalSERVE senator from 2012-13 and was ASUC executive vice president last year.

“Every attorney general has been mired in some type of controversy,” Sabo said. “The attorney general has so much power in elections, and with the contentiousness of the elections, a lot of paranoia takes hold.”

A bill to suspend the bylaw that mandates the shutdown in order for student groups to continue receiving funding was introduced at last week’s senate meeting and was scheduled to be discussed Monday evening by the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Procedural Review.

Because of the “wide latitude of power” given to the attorney general, Sabo said there is often contention when it comes to the appointment of nonpartisan positions.

“When you’re asking the political parties of ASUC to elect the person to keep the political parties in check, there is a conflict of interest,” Sabo said. “I’m not sure how to depoliticize it, but I don’t think the current system is the best process.”

For now, ASUC operations are continuing while Sabo’s successor is being chosen. Executive Vice President Justin Kong believes the process will not have negative effects on the operations of the ASUC.

“Controversy opens up dialogue and any concerns that might not be apparent to other members in the nominations process,” Kong said in an email. “I have faith in this new senate class to do what is best for the ASUC.”

Gordon does not plan to apply for the position again, saying he intends to pursue other opportunities.

Michelle Pitcher covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @michellepitcher.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article said that Kevin Sabo worked in Nolan Pack’s senatorial office. In fact, Sabo worked in Pack’s executive vice president office.