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Student Body President Will Leimenstoll vetoes ammunition funding bill

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story said Michael Braxton shared a conversation he had with Austin Root via Student Congress’ listserv. He did not use the listserv; instead, he sent it to a list of Student Congress members’ emails. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story did not mention that Student Congress Speaker Paige Comparato was also censured at the ethics committee’s Tuesday night meeting. The article has been amended, and The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for any confusion.

Student Body President Will Leimenstoll vetoed Tuesday a controversial bill about ammunition funding, saying it was passed without substantial debate.

The bill, which was passed 17-16 in Student Congress earlier this month, would have made it more difficult for student organizations to receive money for ammunition. Members of the Tar Heel Rifle and Pistol Club felt the bill unfairly targeted their organization.

Leimenstoll said the bill was voted on prematurely after a motion was granted to vote without debate — denying attendees the opportunity to voice their opinions.

“My reason was not because I think that student fees should go toward ammunition,” he said. “I decided to veto because I didn’t feel that everyone who wanted to have a say in the matter had the opportunity to have their voice heard.”

Leimenstoll said members of the Tar Heel Rifle and Pistol Club, as well as people from the shooting range the organization uses in Raleigh, attended the meeting with plans to participate in the debate.

There will be a vote to override the veto at the full Student Congress meeting next week, but per the Student Code, there will be no discussion before the vote.

Austin Root, author and sponsor of the bill, said he doesn’t think the two-thirds majority to override the veto will be reached.

But he said he is planning to file a motion at next Tuesday’s meeting to reconsider the bill. If approved, the bill would be presented again at that meeting, and discussion would be allowed.

Root, along with several other members of Student Congress, has filed two related complaints with Student Congress’ ethics committee against Speaker Pro Tempore Connor Brady, which were discussed at the committee’s meeting Tuesday night.

One complaint claimed that Brady, who was presiding at the meeting when the bill was passed, mishandled the procedure of the meeting by allowing a majority vote, instead of the required two-thirds vote, to end debate on the bill, Root said.

But Brady said neither he nor the 35 representatives in the room, including Root and the parliamentarian, knew that he was acting improperly at the time.

“Rep. Root felt that he could tarnish my reputation and try to save a bill that he knew would be vetoed,” Brady said.

“Ultimately I think it’s trumped-up charges that I look forward to defending myself on,” he said before the meeting.

The complaint was dismissed at the ethics committee meeting Tuesday.

Root said the second complaint regards a private conversation that he and Brady had on Facebook in October.

He said Brady shared that discussion with persons outside of the conversation, and ultimately Rep. Michael Braxton received the email and shared it with the entire Student Congress, saying the conversation showed that the bill was discriminatory.

Root said the conversation didn’t pertain to the bill specifically but to his views on funding for ammunition.

“Accusing me of discrimination … is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” he said. “The purpose of sending it out was to slander my name because the conversation was presenting me in a negative light.”

But Brady said Root never told him not to share the conversation, and that he was within his rights to share it with whomever he wanted.

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“He chose to file an ethics complaint because the truth was revealed about his discriminatory legislation,” Brady said. “It’s also unfortunate that Rep. Root would decide to put that in writing in the first place.”

The ethics committee voted to censure Brady, and the motion will be voted on by the full Student Congress next Tuesday. The committee also voted to censure Speaker Paige Comparato due to an email she sent to Student Congress’ listserv earlier this month.

Staff Writer Sam Schaefer contributed reporting

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