How far does the stench of corruption seep into Florida politics? Apparently, all the way down to the public university student government level.
Impeachment papers have been filed against University of Central Florida Student Government Association President Michael Kilbride after his administration has found itself caught up in allegations of pay-to-play politics, accepting gifts from lobbyists, lavish retreats on public money, and the purchase of an $8,000 desk.
It all seems kind of cute and hilarious until you remember Kilbride is paid a $20,000-a-year salary by the second largest public University by enrollment in the country and the SGA controls a budget of around $15 million in student money. Kilbride is also trying to stave off the move by pulling procedural stunts that would make a real politician blush.
Kilbride is a senior majoring in finance who was elected last year and naturally hails from the South Florida town of Pembroke Pines.
Kilbride had his first bit of PR trouble back in August when it was revealed he spent about $8,000 in school money to fund a lavish retreat at a five-star-resort just outside Disney World for top SGA officers. Apparently the student leaders managed to charge $35-a-plate lunches to the school. Kilbride also allegedly accepted free tickets to Disney parks from a Disney lobbyist.
Then in October it was revealed he approved the purchase of a brand new desk for nearly $8,000 for the student government office, $6,000 for iPads, and $500 on a computer font. Jeez, $8,000 for a desk? Why you could buy a lavish retreat at a chintzy hotel for that... Oh, wait.
Shortly after the media storm Kilbride tried to hide financial records from the student body senate.
Then came allegations earlier this month from UCF's intrepid online-only student news service KnightNews (which seems to be kicking the traditional student newspaper's ass on this story) that Kilbride steered $50,000 worth of contracts to a printer that cut him a deal during his campaign for $2 campaign shirts. The shirts the SGA purchased with school money were far from $2-a-pop. Kilbride might have also not followed proper procedure in soliciting bids for the contracts.
Kilbride has become so unpopular that when his vice president resigned in February to take a job with the Department of Transportation, the student senate refused to approve the person he appointed to be his new VP.
He has also been criticized for everything from flaunting Sunshine laws to purchasing $1,000 in vuvuzelas.
Now an impeachment process has begun even though Kilbride's term would end at the end of the school year and his successor has already been elected. You can read the in depth charges for yourself here.
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An SGA body met to review the charges last night, but Kilbride's Attorney General sent a letter to student media calling into question the validity of the meeting because it started three minutes later than originally scheduled.
Jeez, this kid somehow has managed to find himself in a perfect microcosm of Florida political corruption in just a single year in office.