A long-simmering investigation into improper voting during General Conference 2019 boiled over Oct. 30 during a public oral hearing held by the United Methodist Judicial Council.
Several members of the denomination’s top court questioned the disciplinary authority of the Commission on General Conference to reach a conclusion — announced in August — that a vote on a disaffiliation petition should be null and void because “credible objective evidence” showed four ineligible people casting votes using the credentials of delegates who were not present.
And they asked the two representatives present from the Council of Bishops — Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, council president, and William Waddell, the council’s legal adviser — why they weren’t seeing the evidence.
The Council of Bishops had amended an earlier request to the Judicial Council, asking it to consider the implications of the commission’s findings.
Warren Plowden, first lay alternate for the Judicial Council, grew increasingly annoyed as he launched a series of questions at Waddell and Carter about the commission’s use of an outside law firm, the details of the investigation and the lack of documentation made available to the court. Plowden was a substitute for Lidia Romao Gulele, a council member from Mozambique who was unable to attend the October meeting.
As reported on Aug. 10 by UM News, the commission hired attorneys with the Nashville, Tennessee, law firm Bass, Berry & Sims to work with the auditing firm, LBMC, in the investigation.
The auditing firm looked at available documentation for every authorized delegate, including voting lists, attendance lists, travel reimbursement forms and visa information.
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