ASUN AG: Impeachment trial for student body prez must go on

ASUN President Jake Pereira

ASUN President Jake Pereira

According to an opinion filed today by Associated Students of the University of Nevada Attorney General Steven Kish, the scheduled impeachment hearing for President Jake Pereira on May 7 is legitimate and should not be delayed.

The opinion, written in response to Speaker Cadden Fabbi’s request for clarification on the legality of the judicial council’s actions, found that the council acted legally and that a delay in the impeachment proceedings would result in charges brought forth against Fabbi.

In the Judicial Council’s 3-2 decision, the body found that Pereira acted with “malfeasance” in intimidating Kish to delete an erroneously sent email regarding Pereira’s membership in UNR secret society Coffin & Keys. Pereira also lied to students during a presidential debate, saying that he was not affiliated with the group.

(For more information on the judicial council’s opinion, please see my previous post.)

Both Pereira and ASUN Vice President Alex Bybee released statements yesterday admitting their membership in Coffin & Keys.

“I was wrong in being untruthful during the debate and am making every possible effort to be as forthcoming and transparent in this current process moving forward,” Pereira said the statement.

During an interview on Tuesday, Bybee said he will retain support for Pereira due to his leadership, and that being a part of Coffin & Keys is only a part of their identity as leaders.

“Do I think Jake should have lied? No,” Bybee said. “But Jake has been honest since then.”

Bybee said he began the initiation process into Coffin & Keys during the semester, but was not fully aware of Pereira’s membership in the organization until after the election due to the group’s secretive nature.

Pereira and Bybee both stated that they will retain membership in Coffin & Keys. Both leaders denied commenting on the identity of other members in Coffin & Keys, as well as other details about the organization.

A large coffin-shaped sign erected at UNR alleging to name the members of Coffin & Keys was not from the group and not entirely accurate, Bybee said.

“The list that was published on the coffin today was speculative,” he said.

Since the Reno Gazette-Journal published a story on the impeachment process yesterday, more than 530 people have liked a Facebook page titled, “We Stand with Jake Pereira.” A Facebook post on the official Coffin & Keys page promised that the group’s members would continue working towards the betterment of the University of Nevada.

It is neither the comments we post, nor the articles we publish that make us who we are,” the post said. “Rather it is the actions of each of our members, known or not.”

For a collection of documents related to this story, please visit this link.

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2 thoughts on “ASUN AG: Impeachment trial for student body prez must go on

  1. Impeaching Mr. Pereira for lying about his membership in Coffin & Keys or for his membership in C&K raises a host of concerns. First of all, what has been characterized by some as the “right to lie” in political campaigns may be protected under the First Amendment. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/04/22/why-the-supreme-courts-right-to-lie-case-is-not-really-about-the-right-to-lie/. Second, government action to discipline a person for group membership could also violate the First Amendment right to freedom of association. Even government requirements for disclosure of group membership are held unconstitutional unless they meet strict scrutiny, the highest bar to meet in constitutional law. All of these actions would chill speech. Did Mr. Pereira lie about his membership in C&K? Yes, he did, but so what? The case for impeaching Pereira is weak. And don’t even get me started on Mr. Kish’s latest opinion.

    • The council was very clear to say that it wasn’t Pereira’s membership in C&K that prompted their decision, but the fact that he lied about it. It doesn’t deal with the free speech issue, though. As a self-interested journalist, I would have advised Mr. Kish to leak the details to a newspaper first rather than going through the court system, but that’s all in the past now.

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