Impeachment charges against Benjelloun, Zhitny move forward
Impeachment charges against CSUN Executive Board candidates Elias Benjelloun and Vladislav Zhitny were passed through the senate earlier this week, but student government will have to wait two weeks until a full investigation can determine whether or not they were guilty of bribing a student organization.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Travis Timm, who fi led the charges, read the articles of impeachment before the senate on Monday. Following a lengthy debate over whether to forward the charges to an official impeachment hearing, the charges were approved in a close vote.
11 senators voted to approve the charges while nine voted against.
The newly formed impeachment committee consists of all members of the CSUN senate excluding Benjelloun and Zhitny, who will be faced with defending themselves before their colleagues.
While technically impeached already, Benjelloun and Zhitny have not yet been found guilty or removed from office. To be impeached only means to have accusations against you formally recognized, but the CSUN Constitution states that, “Sustainment of impeachment charges by the Senate shall cause impeached officers to be immediately removed from office and barred from holding further CSUN offices indefinitely.”
If the charges are sustained by a majority vote at the hearing on April 21, Benjelloun and Zhitny would be removed as current senators of the College of Sciences, and barred from holding office indefinitely.
Benjelloun and Zhitny, who are currently campaigning for election to the CSUN Executive Board, would be unable to serve as Undergraduate Student Body President and Vice President, respectively, if they are found guilty. Benjelloun said that he was glad that the senate voted to hear the charges.
“I hope that with everything we can move forward transparently,” he said while out campaigning on Wednesday.
He said that he was eager for the evidence to be brought into the open so that the issue could finally be resolved.
The charges were filed in response to an investigation published March 24 in The Rebel Yell, which reported that the president of Alpha Epsilon Delta claimed to have been offered free pizza and professional connections by Benjelloun and Zhitny in return for campaign support before last year’s senate elections.
Both senators have denied the allegations.
The charges allege that Benjelloun and Zhitny violated the Nevada Revised Statutes as well as their CSUN oath of office. Timm alleges that they are guilty of bribery as outlined in NRS 293.700.
Business Senator Alex Murdock, who is running against Zhitny in this week’s election, said he requested that the charges be filed a week later to spare accusations of politics from clouding the elections.
“That was not legally possible,” Murdock said. “I tried [...] it was just not legally possible.”