Recently impeached Student Government Senator-at-Large Colton Halter was acquitted two of three charges during a Student Government Supreme Court impeachment hearing Feb. 12.
The articles, which were drafted by Senator Brett Bailey, accused Halter of violations of the Student Government Code of Ethics following a series of online Twitter engagements.
Among the evidence was a screenshot of Halter’s Twitter profile which showed “#DeathToAmerica” in his biography next to “@txstsg Senator.” Additionally, a tweet showing Halter calling for the “canceling” of white people was put before the court.
However, the most discussed tweet was one which appears to mock Gov. Gregg Abbott for his disability. The tweet was in response to a photo Abbot tweeted of the Texas Capitol Christmas Tree in December.
Halter responded saying, “Careful around that tree remember what happened last time,” a presumed reference to the incident which paralyzed the governor in 1984.
Bailey said the tweets are a complete disregard for Halter’s constituents and a gross violation of the code of ethics.
“By being overwhelmingly inconsiderate of his constituents, Colton Halter has neglected the principles of student leadership,” Bailey said. “Furthermore, Colton Halter should know that his public social media, which he reveals himself as a Student Government senator, is a platform which he uses to connect with his constituents.”
Bailey prepared more evidence against Halter, including bringing two witnesses, however, because Bailey had not notified the court early enough, Halter was not able to prepare a rebuttal, and the evidence could not be addressed by the court.
The court agreed to hold Halter accountable for his tweet against Abbot under the first article of impeachment which states student government members must oppose all forms of discrimination and harassment under the Code of Ethics. The court will agree on a lesser sanction for Halter during a public standards review hearing at a later date.
Disciplinary remedies could include service to Student Government outside of the person’s established commitments, community service, probation in which case another complaint may result in impeachment, or other sanctions as provided for in the Student Government Code.
Alexia Malcom, judicial advocate for Halter, referred to the impeachment proceeding as a “partisan witch hunt,” pointing out that Bailey is president of the Texas State College Republicans and the lead sponsor of the articles is Senator Andrew Florence, candidate for Student Government vice president.
“The complainants intentionally sought out old tweets from the respondent with the intent to build a partisan case for impeachment to silence a voice with which they disagree,” Malcom said.
Halter argued that his account is a personal Twitter page made before he came to the university, adding that it is not attached to any Texas State-affiliated email address and that none of the tweets listed as evidence specifically address a Texas State student.
In defense of the Abbot tweet, Malcom argued Halter was merely referring to the incident of the tree falling and not the governor’s disability. However, later during questioning, Halter seemed to admit he was referring to his disability but in no instance did he imply that Abbot was lesser because of it. Minutes later, he admitted the main purpose of the tweet was to show the Christmas tree was ugly.
“The intention was simply to reference the fact that…I thought the tree was kinda ugly and I wanted other people that I knew to see it,” Halter said.
Halter has since added in his Twitter biography “tweets don’t represent orgs.”