Kelly Huskey voted to allot up to $500 to a club she is a member of during a student council meeting on Dec. 4.
During the meeting, The Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College received a funding request from Shinaed Lindgren, one of the captains of the Criminal Justice Club. The request asked that the ASCOCC match the amount of money raised by the club for their Quarters for Seniors fundraiser, in any amount up to $500. All four present council members–as well as Shara Huskey, Director of Public Relations, who was absent but voted by proxy–voted to approve the request, including Kelly Huskey, the Director of Student Organizations.
Huskey is a former captain of the Criminal Justice Club, and is currently an active member. She stated in a previous interview with The Broadside, published on Oct. 31, that she would not vote on issues concerning the Criminal Justice Club to avoid conflict of interest.ASCOCC council members have an informal rule that council members do not vote on issues regarding organizations of which they are a member, according to Taran Underdal, the advisor of ASCOCC.
“That is definitely a conflict of interest,” said Underdal, regarding Huskey’s vote on the Criminal Justice Club funds request.
Huskey sent an e-mail attempting to retract her vote on Dec. 5 at 3:49 p.m.
“It has been brought to my attention that I forgot to abstain from voting on the Criminal Justice Proposal for us to donate money to the Quarters for Seniors Drive,” said Huskey in her e-mail to The Broadside and the ASCOCC council. “I am officially removing my vote.”
Huskey’s retraction may not be valid, according to Underdal. ASCOCC council members can only vote on funding requests during meetings, which according to their constitution must have been posted at least 24 hours in advance and have a quorum. The constitution does not list an exception for members who wish to change or retract their vote after the meeting has been adjourned.
“According to the constitution, I am not aware of a mechanism to retract a vote after the meeting is over,” said Underdal.
Huskey said it was brought to her attention by Lindgren that she voted on the funds request proposal. A combination of stress from “outside circumstances” and wanting to “rush” through the meeting caused Huskey to forget to abstain her vote.
“It’s something I felt very passionate about, and I wanted it to go through,” said Huskey. “It didn’t even occur to me that I needed to abstain at the time.”
Huskey said voting was an accident, and she stands by earlier statements that council members should not vote on issues regarding clubs they are involved in.
“It’s just one of those general rules of thumb,” said Huskey. “It’s ethically not the right thing to do.”
Killinger and Cole, who were present at the meeting, both said they did not notice that Huskey had voted on the funds request.
“Sometimes those things slip through the cracks,” said Killinger. He said that the night of the meeting was “a heavy night,” which accounts for the oversight on the part of Huskey and the rest of the present council.
Cole said that had she noticed that Huskey voted, she “definitely would have spoken up.”
“One of the really important things is holding each other accountable,” said Cole.
Underdal also stated that she did not realize that Huskey had voted on the Criminal Justice funds request.
“At the time of the actual voting, I was reviewing a document for the study abroad program, as it was the next item of business.” said Underdal.
If she had noticed that Huskey voted on the issue, Underdal claimed she would have pointed out a conflict of interest.
“Had I been aware of the circumstances, I would have addressed the situation and encouraged a re-vote,” she said.
Underdal said that she and the ASCOCC council were “stressed” on the night of the meeting, which may have allowed for the mistake to happen.
“That meeting was not as professional as usual, due to extenuating circumstances,” said Underdal.
There is currently no formal rule prohibiting ASCOCC council from voting on issues regarding organizations of which they are a member.
It has been the “voting pattern” for members to abstain from issues they are connected to, according to Underdal, and it has been up to the council members to hold each other accountable. ASCOCC is currently in the process of revising their constitution and creating bylaws. Underdal said she is going to recommend that a bylaw prohibiting council members from voting regarding their own club be added to the current draft.
“As it’s not outlined in the constitution, it’s not anyone’s duty to catch it,” said Killinger. “Which is why we need to get it [into the constitution.]”
ASCOCC pays for Criminal Justice advertising
Since Nov. 7 ASCOCC has been running paid advertising for the Quarters for Seniors event in The Broadside, as part of a deal that allots them a certain amount of ad space each issue. Huskey said she was the one who decided to use some of the space for the Criminal Justice ad. She made the decision to run the ad because she knew the council had ad space to fill, and because of her involvement in the Criminal Justice club, knew that they had an event currently in progress. She added that ASCOCC would use the space for any club that let the council know they had an event to advertise.
“It wasn’t showing favoritism in anyway,” said Huskey. “I just knew that event was coming.”
Assisting clubs with marketing is part of Huskey’s role as Director of Student Organizations, according to Underdal.
“ASCOCC events are the priority,” Underal said, but it is not unusual for the council to use funds to assist student clubs and college events with marketing.