The student body president of the University of Florida is facing his own impeachment threat for allegedly spending $50,000 in student fees to invite Donald Trump Jr. to speak at the Gainesville campus.
The university’s Student Senate passed a resolution Tuesday to oust Michael Murphy for malfeasance and abuse of power over the alleged misuse of public funds. More than 100 students and alumni signed the formal resolution for his impeachment, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
The resolution accuses Murphy of using the fees to “advance his own expressed political beliefs” and endangering “students marginalized by the speakers’ white nationalist supporters.”
Questions have been raised about the legality of the Oct. 10 visit by Trump Jr. and his girlfriend and Trump campaign adviser, Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Murphy agreed to use $50,000 in student fees, which is said to be prohibited by state and federal law regarding campaign appearances on campus, to bring the president’s son UF, according to reports.
“Student Activity and Service Fee money cannot be used to pay for campaign activity,” university spokesman Steve Orlando told Fox News in a statement. “Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle were advised about UF’s policy prior to their appearance and did not engage in campaign activities during the event.”
Students at the university pay around $2,000 in fees over four years, some of which are covered by a publicly funded scholarship program.
Murphy has said he did not violate any rules and that the one-hour visit was not campaign-related even though portions of the Trump’s speech centered on his father’s accomplishments as president, The Times reported.
Emails obtained by The Independent Florida Alligator, the student newspaper, showed Murphy worked to set up the visit with a Trump reelection campaign official.
Caroline Wren, the national finance consultant for Trump Victory, the fundraising arm for the campaign, first reached out to Murphy after they met at a July 4 party. She declined to be interviewed when reached by The Times.
She told The Alligator that she followed up with Murphy via “my private email in my personal capacity and mistakenly forgot to remove my Trump Victory signature.”
“After an initial call to discuss a potential visit, University of Florida representatives were connected to Donald Trump Jr.’s office,” she added.
Neither Murphy nor two Student Senate officials responded to messages from Fox News. Efforts to reach Wren were unsuccessful.
Jarrod Rodriguez, treasurer of UF’s College Republicans group, called the impeachment effort inappropriate.
“I don’t really think there is evidence of an impeachable offense,” he told The Times. “I’m not saying that it doesn’t raise any eyebrows, but it also isn’t the nail in the coffin.”
Ben Lima, a student senator, said Murphy’s campus party blocked discussions of the visit beforehand and has shut out student government members with opposing viewpoints.
“They’re basically silencing the voices,” he said. “They’re choosing to benefit the Trump family but not the students. It’s really an insult and a disgrace to the student body to be silent about something students are so passionate about.”
The Alligator reported that Murphy also reached out to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders to invite him to the campus. The Sanders campaign declined, citing scheduling issues.
Murphy will be given the chance to present counterevidence and testimony before half of the Student Senate. If two-thirds of the Senate votes for impeachment, he will be suspended. The other half will then take a final vote to decide whether to permanently remove him from office.
The timing coincides with a Democratic-led impeachment effort against President Trump. Diplomats testified Wednesday during a congressional impeachment hearing about whether Trump pressure Ukrainian leaders to investigate his political rivals.