Associated Students On-Campus Representative Joseph Lee was released from Santa Barbara County Jail on $20,000 bail on Sunday after being arrested in connection with a stolen laptop.
Lee, a second-year political science major, was incarcerated for five days on charges of felony burglary, unauthorized altering of computer data system, receiving stolen property and grand theft after his arrest on April 27. Lee was recently re-elected to serve on Legislative Council as a Representative-at-Large with Open People’s Party and faces arraignment today.
According to A.S. Legal Code, Legislative Council members may receive up to $600 per quarter in honorarium — a salary funded through student fees.
UC Police Department Public Information Office Matt Bowman said the laptop was stolen from Santa Catalina residence hall on April 19.
“[Lee] put himself in a position that many UCSB students could find themselves in: You’re needing a laptop and don’t have the means of picking one up quickly enough to satisfy an academic need, so he made a choice to take somebody else’s laptop and that’s a significant crime,” Bowman said. “This is an example where through police work and investigation, we were able to identify Mr. Lee, interview him and learn more about the techniques that he used.”
Student Advocate General and OPP President-Elect Harrison Weber, a third-year history of public policy major, said Lee’s arrest came as a shock to his fellow student government officials.
“Those in our party — even those who knew him extremely well — were completely blown away,” Weber said. “We had absolutely no inclination that he was even capable of this, let alone actually did something like this. Again, we don’t know what he did, but those folks that I’ve talked to that are even better friends with him than I am say that he fucked up, and they have no idea what the hell he was thinking.”
According to his campaign platforms posted on the Associated Students Spring Elections website, Lee vowed to “do my absolute best to make YOUR PROBLEMS, MY PROBLEMS, and insist upon ACCOUNTABILITY and HONESTY to YOUR student government.”
Weber said while Lee never seemed fiscally untrustworthy, his position in the association did not grant him any access to the party’s funds.
“Insofar as it’s connected to our party, the execs are the ones that handle the finances … [Lee] never sapped our money nor gave any indication at any point in the campaign that he was capable of doing something like this,” Weber said.
Weber said he encouraged Lee to come forward and explain the situation to his constituents regardless of whether he is indicted at today’s arraignment.
“Any time you’re caught in a situation like that, whether it’s a complete misunderstanding or you’re guilty as sin, letting students know what’s going on is the chief concern that any elected person should have.”
Weber said he hopes the incident will not detract from OPP’s measures to promote a more transparent student government, exemplified in today’s transitional forum at 5 p.m. in the MultiCultural Center Lounge which is meant to serve as an open channel for students’ concerns about the association.
“As an elected official, you’re on duty 24/7 to be representing your school and the association,” Weber said. “I really hope this situation doesn’t derail the efforts we’re making to really connect with the students who genuinely feel like this government will not represent them. We want to know what we can do — what we can focus on.”