By Daniel Johnson-Kim, Editor in Chief
Former Students’ Association Congress President Daniel Paul Watkins declared he was a victim of character assassination and his impeachment was unconstitutional, illegitimate and illegal.
“It felt like a kangaroo court and a Mickey Mouse trial,” Watkins said.
Watkins was stripped of his title and responsibilities as student body president Wednesday after SA Congress voted 25-5-2 to remove him from office. SA Congress Chief Financial Officer Luke Cochran, junior accounting major from Round Rock, brought charges against Watkins and called for his impeachment.
Cochran claimed Watkins failed “to lead the Students’ Association in a positive manner,” showed “disrespect for the Abilene Christian University community” and failed to “adhere to the ethical standards of conduct as noted in the Abilene Christian University Campus Policies.”
Watkins said these charges were not impeachable offenses, according to the SA Congress Constitution or By-laws, the governing documents of ACU’s student government. He added he was unable to defend himself for two hours, while Congress members and executive officers gave testimony.
According to Article V of the SA Congress Constitution, a three-fourths majority of Congress is required to impeach an officer.
Watkins declared the constitution clearly stated 75 percent of the entire Congress must vote to impeach an officer, which therefore voided the vote taken by SA Congress on Wednesday.
Watkins said he was able to address the charges brought on by Cochran and defend himself but was asked to leave the room during the time Congress members and testimony from the other executive officers was delivered. He said during the time he was not in the room, Congress members slandered him, and he was unable to respond to their accusations.
Watkins said the SA Congress most likely would not have impeached him had the process ended with Cochran’s accusations and Watkins’ rebuttal. It was the time the two were asked to leave the impeachment hearing that Watkins said Congress was turned against him.
“It became character assassination, and I was not given a chance to refute any of the charges that were brought up against me,” Watkins said.
Watkins denied he used profanity when referring to faculty members or used his position to manipulate and deceive the other executive officers. Watkins said the only time he did not work the required 20 hours a week in the SA Congress office, a constitutional requirement of the SA executive officers, was when he had surgery on his leg at the beginning of the fall semester and when he took personal time to reflect after the incident in which a noose was left on his chair. All of these examples were used as evidence to impeach Watkins, said Freshman Sen. Zach Linge, digital media major from San Antonio.
Watkins said he was investigating whether or not he can appeal the impeachment, and would seek counsel from family, friends and mentors.
Watkins deactivated his Facebook account and declined to comment immediately after Congress voted to impeach him. He said he was surprised Congress voted to impeach him.
“This was out of left field and hit me like a sack of bricks,” Watkins said.