Ethics report doesn’t answer all questions in ticket controversy

In early October, we suggested that Student Government Sens. Jesse Parrish and Blake Burnett had offset their mistakes in a ticket-resale controversy by donating the profits to UK’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Center. At the time, it seemed like additional investigatio n was unnecessary.

“Barring further revelations about their conduct, it seems the case is closed as far as they’re concerned,” we wrote.

Last week, those “further revelations” came out. Following a several-month-long investigation, an Ethics Commission led by SG Attorney General Beau Baustien released a report indicating there is more to the senators’ purchase and resale of Corey Smith concert tickets than was previously reported.

The controversy centered on the availability of discount tickets to the concert, which was sponsored largely by SG and the Interfraternity Council. Initially, a large chunk of tickets was reserved for Greek organizations for sale at $5 each, while tickets for the general public were available at the face value of $15 each. On Sept. 17, the unclaimed Greek tickets went on sale to everyone at the list price, although fraternity and sorority members could still receive the discount. Parrish and Burnett used this opportunity to buy up the nearly 200 unclaimed tickets and sell them for a profit, the Kernel reported on Sept. 25.

At the time, Burnett declined to comment, while Parrish said they only resold tickets at the $15 face value.

“We resold said tickets at face value — we did not sell above market value,” Parrish wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Kernel on Sept. 26.

Later, during depositions on Nov. 15, the two senators told the Ethics Commission that they sold each ticket for $15. Soon after, the commission found evidence that Burnett had actually sold tickets for $25 each, the Kernel reported Thursday.

Baustien said he believes Parrish “told the whole truth in his deposition” and that there is sufficient evidence to show that Burnett committed perjury.

If this is true and Burnett lied under oath, then the SG Senate should vote to impeach and remove him. Similarly, if evidence surfaces that Parrish was aware of tickets being sold over list value and stood to profit from the increased price, then he should be ejected from the legislature.

However, the two senators should not be convicted solely on the opinion of the attorney general — the Senate should carefully review and, if possible, verify the ethics report. Perjury is a serious claim and should not be handled lightly.

The commission’s report serves as evidence that the existing SG ethics review process can be effective but has much room for improvement. The attorney general and ad hoc committee should be complimented for running a successful, thorough investigation and for discovering new evidence.

However, the timeliness of the findings leaves something to be desired. Nearly four months have passed since the initial incident and only now has the process reached the point where SG can consider actual, binding action. In a few more months, a new round of senators will be voted into office, and shortly afterward the school year will end. The long, labor-intensive process of investigating an ethics claim filed in October will have barely concluded before students go to the polls in late March.

SG should use the ticket controversy and the ensuing investigation as an opportunity to revisit the ethics code and find ways to streamline the investigative process without sacrificing fairness or impartiality.