Allan Van Fleet
|Allan Van Fleet|
|McDermott Will & Emery|
Van Fleet received a B.A. from Rice University in 1976, graduating summa cum laude. In 1977 he finished first in his class while earning a J.D. from Columbia Law School. Van Fleet focuses on antitrust, intellectual property and general commercial litigation. He is also Adjunct Professor of Management at the Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University, where he teaches Antitrust for Business Managers. After clerking for a federal judge in New York City, Van Fleet worked for 28 yeras at Vinson & Elkins.
Wallace Hall impeachment
- See also: Wallace Hall impeachment trial
After he was appointed in 2011, University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall began looking into what he believed to be clout scandals within the University of Texas system. Hall investigated the university's forgivable-loans program and admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals. Hall, as an individual citizen, filed FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed. According to his accusers, Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden. However, a letter from University chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in February 2014 said that Hall likely requested fewer than 100,000 pages. In addition, Cigarroa wrote: "During testimony before the Select Committee, some early witnesses implied that the U.T. System has not protected the privacy rights of students, staff, and patients. This is simply not true."
An effort was begun in June 2013 to try and impeach Hall from his position as regent. Some legislators are justifying the impeachment on the grounds that Hall did not disclose several lawsuits that he was involved in when he originally completed his Regent background check. Hall updated Governor Rick Perry's office in April 2013 with the full list. The lack of lawsuit disclosure by Hall is not unique -- more than 9,000 lawsuits were not disclosed by other appointed Texas officials. No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office. Governor of Texas Rick Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees. He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater." Texas state legislators have never previously tried to remove an appointed official. Only two elected officials in the history of Texas have ever been successfully impeached.
In 2013, Rusty Hardin was hired by the state of Texas to serve as legal counsel for the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations. That committee is investigating the possibility of impeaching University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall.
At the October 22, 2013 meeting Van Fleet alleged that there was evidence Pitts spoke with President Powers' executive assistant about ensuring an unnamed student who had previously been rejected from law school would receive an opportunity to re-apply and interview with the dean.
Van Fleet asked for the right to cross-examine statements to the committee. However, members of the committee and Hardin rejected the request. "Today, we heard the committee spend 10 minutes of platitude on transparency and spend two hours in secrecy. It’s important that the full story come out, not just the limited amount Mr. Hardin may decide is relevant," Van Fleet said. When Governor of Texas James Ferguson was impeached in 1917, cross-examination was allowed. In 1975, Judge O.P. Carrillo was impeached, and his case had cross-examination on a limited scope.
With University of Texas Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and University of Texas, Austin President Bill Powers already subpoenaed to appear at the December 18-19 meetings, Van Fleet requested that the committee respond regarding whether it would also subpoena Hall. He said that his lawyers have told him not to appear before the committee without a subpoena. On December 5, 2013, Van Fleet sent a letter to the committee requesting that the co-chairs announce whether Hall would indeed be subpoenaed. Van Fleet's request asked for an answer by the end of the day. In response, committee attorney Rusty Hardin said "We're not going to adhere to his deadline. He doesn't get to pick the time and place." Van Fleet pointed out that providing two weeks' notice for testimony is the standard to allow individuals to prepare testimony. He added that the letter has "caused confusion about the committee's intentions."
May 2014 letter to the committee
On May 6, 2014, Van Fleet sent a letter to the Transparency Committee in response to the report issued by Rusty Hardin. Van Fleet accused the committee of withholding information that would "exonerate Regent Hall from all of the committee's charges." The letter alleged that the committee "manipulated the process to prevent public exposure to the truth."
Van Fleet's May 6 letter made reference to a previously sent letter on April 25, 2014, that requested the release of an audio recording from an August 22, 2013 University of Texas System Board of Regents board meeting. According to the letter, a recording made by Regent Alex Cranberg at the meeting pinpoints the exact position of the Regent members regarding President Bill Powers' employment situation. The letter maintained it is a key piece of evidence that has not been released to the public. Hall's lawyers requested that the recording be released and sent to the Travis County District Attorney. The Texas Tribune also requested the recording. University of Texas System officials then asked the Attorney General for permission to withhold the recording.
The letter from Van Fleet lists seven facts that he alleges refutes the committee's assertions. Those facts listed were as follows:
- "Regent Hall fully disclosed information on his nomination application"
- "Regent Hall did not violate FERPA protections"
- "Regent Hall did not “leak” or otherwise disclose student information"
- "Regent Hall properly represented the UT System in discussions about charitable donations"
- "Regent Hall’s information requests were reasonable and necessary"
- "Regent Hall did not tamper with or coerce testimony"
- "The committee has manipulated the process to prevent public exposure to the truth about every issue under investigation"
Kroll Associates report
In February 2015, an independent report by Kroll Associates, commissioned by the Regents Board, confirmed a "pattern of special treatment for well-connected applicants to UT." While the report did not show evidence of any quid pro quo, it did show that "extra acceptances were extended every year to accommodate special cases" and that the "President’s Office ordered applicants admitted over the objection of the Admissions Office." It added that "efforts were made to minimize paper trails and written lists" during the process." The Wall Street Journal wrote that the report should "should put an end" to the concerns over Hall's clout investigations.
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- McDermott Will & Emery, "Allan Van Fleet," accessed November 21, 2013
- Super Lawyers, "Van Fleet's Grand Feats," October 2007
- American Spectator, "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
- Daily Texas Online, "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
- Daily Texas Online, "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
- Dallas Morning News, "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
- Watchdog, "‘Witch hunt’ fallout: Speaker calls for narrower public records law," February 5, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "UT System Responds to Transparency Committee Directives," February 3, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa letter to the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations," February 1, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
- Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
- Watchdog.org, "Case against UT regent Wallace Hall is a sham — here’s proof," September 6, 2013
- News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
- Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
- Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
- Texas Public Radio, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Will Testify In Impeachment Hearing," November 13, 2013
- My San Antonio, "Pitts denounces UT regent’s document requests," October 22, 2013
- Fleet/ Houston Chronicle, "Impeachment committee hires Allan Van Fleet," August 23, 2013
- Fleet-hired-for-regent-impeachment-proceedings/ Alcalde, "Allan Van Fleet Hired for Regent Impeachment Proceedings," August 23, 2013 (dead link)
- Dallas Morning News, "UT, Powers under fire, according to early testimony during regent investigation," October 22, 2013
- Austin American Statesman, "Wallace Hall impeachment investigation heats up," September 25, 2013
- Daily Texan Online, "Cross-examination not allowed in UT System Regent Wallace Hall investigation," September 17, 2013
- Alcalde, "Transparency Committee Sets Agenda for Regent Investigation," September 16, 2013
- Texas Tribune, "How Will UT Regent Impeachment Probe Play Out?," September 25, 2013
- Texas Tribune, "Ahead of Hearings, UT Regent Hall Requests Subpoena," December 5, 2013
- Austin American-Statesman, "UT regent’s lawyer accuses panel of withholding information," May 6, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "Hall's Lawyer Accuses Committee of Withholding Information," May 6, 2014
- Watchdog, "Attorney: Secret tape covered up by lawmakers proves regent’s innocence," May 7, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "Letter from Van Fleet to the Committee on May 6, 2014
- Wall Street Journal, "Texas Admissions Rumble," February 12, 2015