Jared Knight, president of the Government of the Student Body, vetoed last week’s bylaw change pertaining to the Executive Initiative Account on Monday night, Oct. 15.
In an email sent out Monday night to the GSB senate, Knight said: “I've been told the account, as it stood before Wednesday's meeting, was audit-compliant. In light of this new information, I am returning the state of the account to the original intent of the senate.”
Jamie Rehlander, accountant for the campus organization accounting, which oversees GSB's spending, is currently looking into the account in question. He said the Executive Initiative Account has typically been used for "nametags, officer transition costs, subscriptions for the Ames Tribune ... advertising, small trinkets given away for Destination Iowa State, etc."
Of the $1,500 allowed each year for the account, $1,285.80 has been spent thus far on the construction of a wall to create a conference room in the GSB office space, on pizza and on art for Knight's personal office.
Knight said he did reimburse the account for the pizza and art on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
Gage Kensler, speaker of the GSB senate, said Knight thought the bylaws were too restrictive and it was holding the account to higher standards than other GSB accounts.
“I decided [to veto] after last night’s meeting," Knight said Tuesday. "Most of the senators there didn’t have any objection to veto. One encouraged it.”
On Tuesday night, the GSB president said: “The whole purpose of the bylaw that was proposed last week … is to bring it within audit compliance. It’s not about setting controls on the account. I think there are some senators that have desire to put controls on the account, but the bill was not brought up to add control; it was solely to bring it in line with audit standards.”
Not all senators approved of Knight’s decision.
“I liked the bylaw that was passed last week," Kensler said. "I think this account should be held at a higher level.”
During a meeting Monday night between the Rules Committee, Finance Committee and the GSB president, a new bylaw was approved to replace the vetoed bylaw change from Wednesday's GSB meeting.
The bylaw change, which is set to be voted on at the next week's GSB meeting, included oversight on the president’s spending by the finance director and members of the Executive Cabinet — those who can block expenditure by the president.
“We confirm all executive appointments so this is our senatorial check on that account,” Kensler said. “This was a compromise by everyone there, but some people still think the bylaw is not strong enough and some think it’s too strong.”
In an interview Monday, Knight said that a previously unnamed source in the Business and Finance Office had said the state of the account as it stood before senate met last week was compliant with audit standards, something Knight said he did not realize until Thursday morning.
When asked who his source was, he revealed it was Pam Cain, associate vice president for business and finance.
“I didn’t say that [the account as it stood last Wednesday before senate met was audit compliant]," Cain said. "I said that there are other bylaws that provide the control for that account, and there’s other ways to get through it."
Cain also said: “To be audit compliant you have to follow procedures, there has to be a segregation of duties, and you have to document it, but procedures are what set out the compliance requirements.”
This is a generality of all university accounts and not exclusive to the Executive Initiative Account.
Cain was approached by Knight last Thursday after the senate meeting, requesting general information, but she said she did not have access to the account.
“The current bylaws being audit compliant was kind of a separate thing from what I asked her to look at," Knight said about his discussion with Cain. "There was a little bit of confusion. It seemed like she was saying they’re fine.”
Knight called the Daily later on Tuesday to clarify the confusion. “[Cain] said as long as the procedures are followed as it's set up in the bylaws, that should be audit compliant.”
Cain was not reached for further comment.
One senator, Jake Swanson, expressed his disappointment with the president.
“He was elected for a reason because students trusted him to make decisions that would benefit the whole student body," Swanson said. "This is so disappointing because we are seeing what this money is being spent on, and it violates the trust students have in him."