Committee: Grounds Exist to Impeach UT Regent

house transparency committee moves toward impeachment

Lost the public’s trust. People’s lives destroyed. A slap in the face of the Texas Legislature.

These were just a few of the indignant phrases members of the committee investigating UT regent Wallace Hall reached for today in discussing whether grounds exist to impeach the man.

The House select committee on transparency in state operations voted 7-1 to take the first step in the impeachment process. Hall has been under investigation by the committee and its special counsel, Rusty Hardin, for months. Hall and his lawyers deny any wrongdoing. In fact, they argue Hall has been fulfilling his regental duties.

What the committee did not decide—and what it will spend the next two weeks debating—is what specifically the articles of impeachment would state. Hall would be the first gubernatorial appointee ever impeached.

The committee will likely turn to their special counsel’s report when they begin drafting: Hardin found four areas where he thought Hall might have committed impeachable offenses. The most concerning to the co-chairs of the committee was Hall’s alleged mishandling of student records, they said after the hearing adjourned. His massive, unceasing, and urgent requests for documents; his badgering and bullying of UT officials; and his arguing against UT-Austin’s interests with regards to how to count non-monetary donations were also listed as possibly descending to the impeachable.

Members of the committee repeatedly lamented that they had been put in the position of having to clean up the UT System’s mess, they said. Rep. Lyle Larson called for the UT System Board to vote no confidence in Hall, and Larson again called on Gov. Rick Perry to ask for Hall’s resignation.

“The message I want [the UT System board of regents] to understand is that we’re doing what we can to help remedy this situation,” said committee co-chair Carol Alvardo. “But they have a responsibility, as well. They’ve all been aware of this behavior and for whatever reason have not done anything about it.”

After the vote, Speaker Joe Straus, who gave the committee its charge, thanked the members for taking its oversight responsibility seriously, and for bringing to light significant concerns about the University of Texas System and its board of regents.

“As that work continues,” Straus said in a statement, “I hope the board will take its own steps to address the trust that has been broken among regents and the harm that some regents have inflicted upon the UT System.”

A call to the UT System was not immediately returned.

The committee set its next meeting date for May 21-22.

Photo by Tim Taliaferro.


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