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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bernsen’s accusations confirmed by officials

    Cade Bernson
    Cade Bernson

    Student government officials confirmed that there were several exclusive meetings to plan the removal of Student Body President Cade Bernsen, but many officials had contradictory accounts of what occurred.

    Bernsen alleged in a prepared statement during Wednesday’s Associated Students of the University of Arizona senate meeting that secret meetings took place behind his back to orchestrate his removal from office.

    “”On Nov. 21 (Sen. Rhonda) Tubbs drove numerous members of ASUA one by one to a secret meeting where they were asked to support my impeachment,”” Bernsen said.

    Tubbs was previously quoted as saying that she “”wasn’t a part of any meetings to plan Bernsen’s removal, nor was she aware of any meetings,”” according to the statement.

    But recently Tubbs confirmed that members of the cabinet met to discuss impeachment and then met with each member of the senators individually to discuss possible impeachment of Bernsen, though she said she was not present.

    “”I was never involved in any secret meetings,”” Tubbs said.

    Tubbs said she did not understand why Bernsen was calling them secret meetings.

    “”I think (Bernsen) needs to define what a secret meeting is,”” she said.

    Tubbs said the she told the Dean of Students Office that she was informed of a possible impeachment.

    “”I was informed that a possible impeachment might be taking place and that’s all I was ever informed,”” Tubbs said. “”It isn’t like this big ‘lets sit around and plot something.’ It’s kind of blown out of proportion.””

    Tubbs said she was not part of any planning of the meetings, nor did she drive any member one by one to the meetings, as Bernsen’s account alleges.

    Bernsen, a political science senior, fired five ASUA officials Jan. 10 – Arizona Students’ Association directors Fernando Ascencio, Andrew Record and Christopher Dang and cabinet members Breanne Bushu and Rebecca Rodl – in part because, he alleges, they used the meetings to spread lies and plan his impeachment. The officials were later reinstated and Bernsen has since been on leave while the Dean of Students Office investigates the firings.

    Nathan Bell, ASUA SafeRide technology supervisor, said in an e-mail statement that he attended meetings during which he tried to stop its organizers from using what he said were “”inappropriate methods”” of persuasion.

    “”I attended a meeting in November where many people’s intentions were to plan Cade’s removal,”” Bell said. “”I felt that the discussion that occurred there was careless at best and possibly malicious.””

    Bell, a former ASUA senator who ran against Bernsen in last year’s primary election, said the meeting he attended took place to discuss removing Bernsen from office, but he was reluctant to label the meetings as secret.

    I have heard of meetings going on before the allegations became public. I wasn’t at any of them.

    Sen. Ryan Montana Erickson

    “”I don’t know that I would call the meeting I was at a ‘secret’ since there were at least a dozen individuals present, which is a sizable chunk of the active members of ASUA,”” Bell said. “” But there definitely was a concerted effort to oust Cade from office.””

    Bell said those present discussed “”several different plans to force his resignation.””

    “”The sexual allegations were not fabricated by this group, but they did see the allegations as the leverage they needed to expedite his removal from office.””

    Bell said he had been invited to the meeting by another official who hoped Bell could bring objectivity to the discussion.

    “”I spent at least three hours with the group but was not able to talk them out of what I believed to be extremely inappropriate methods,”” Bell said. “”They were steadfastly determined to get Cade out of office and, ostensibly, to bring justice to the sexual allegations.””

    Bernsen also alleged in his statement that two student officials tried to convince the ASUA treasurer of Bernsen’s guilt and keep him silent about what they told him.

    “”On Nov. 22, 2005 (Sen. Matthew) Boepple and Arizona Students’ Association director Chris Dang met with treasurer Keven Barker and attempted to convince him of my guilt and the need for my impeachment,”” Bernsen said. “”They instructed Barker that most of the senators favored my impeachment. They instructed Barker to not make me aware of these accusations.””

    Barker affirmed that this meeting took place and that he wasn’t comfortable with how Boepple and Dang approached him.

    “”(Boepple and Dang) told me everyone was filing complaints and they wanted me to know, as an executive, that the senate was going to impeach him,”” Barker said. “”They kept telling me how serious it was.””

    Barker said Boepple and Dang stood between him and the door during the meeting.

    “”It didn’t sound right, but the way they told me was so uncomfortable that I didn’t know what to do,”” Barker said. “”The meeting itself was very threatening.””

    Dang declined to comment, saying the Dean of Students Office is now handling the matter.

    Boepple said he met with Barker, but didn’t try to convince him of anything.

    Boepple said he could not remember the specifics of the meeting, but believed they had to do with the sexual harassment allegations.

    Barker said before the meeting with Boepple and Dang, he first heard of the meetings from Sen. Jami Reinsch.

    “”She told me Rhonda Tubbs was picking up some of the senators and taking them to Chris Dang and Breanne (Bushu’s) house one by one,”” Barker said.

    Reinsch said yesterday that she and the other senators were informed by members of the cabinet about the meetings.

    “”All the senators were informed individually,”” Reinsch said. “”We were not part of the planning it.””

    Reinsch said the meetings were discussions about impeachment and not necessarily secret.

    “”I think people are exaggerating on the term ‘secret meeting,'”” Reinsch said.

    Sen. Ryan Montana Erickson said he had heard of the meetings but he never attended one.

    “”I have heard of meetings going on before the allegations became public,”” Erickson said. “”I wasn’t at any of them.””

    Zach Colick and Stephanie Hall contributed to this report.

    Read the text of Cade Bernsen’s statement

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