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Empower Texans

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Empower Texans is a non-profit organization in Texas. According to its website, the organization exists "to create and sustain a system of strong fiscal stewardship within all levels of Texas government, ensuring the greatest amounts of economic and personal liberty, and promoting public policies that provide individuals with the freedom to use their strengths and talents in pursuit of greater opportunities."[1]

Three members of the organization are:

  • Texans for Fiscal Responsibility
  • The Empower Texans PAC
  • The Empower Texans Foundation

Wallace Hall impeachment trial

See also: Wallace Hall impeachment trial

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University of Texas Investigations

Background
Wallace Hall impeachment trialPolitical favoritism in admissions to the University of TexasForgivable loans program at the University of Texas Law School House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations (TSAO)Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Ed Governance, Excellence & Transparency

UT Regents
Wallace HallPaul FosterEugene PowellSteven HicksErnest AlisedaJeffery HildebrandBrenda PejovichAlex CranbergRobert Stillwell

Elected Officials
Rick PerryJoe StrausCharles PerryTrey FischerDan FlynnNaomi GonzalezEric JohnsonLyle LarsonCarol AlvaradoFour PriceJim PittsDan Branch

UT Individuals
Bill PowersLarry SagerBarry BurgdorfKevin HegartyFrancisco CigarroaCarol Longoria

The organization has defended Regent Wallace Hall during his impeachment trial in 2013.[2]

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.[3] Hall, as an individual citizen, filed a large number of FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed.[4] According to his accusers, Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden.[5][6] However, a letter from University chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in February 2014 said that Hall likely requested fewer than 100,000 pages.[7][8] 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."[9]

An effort was begun in June 2013 to try and impeach Hall from his position as Regent. Some legislators are justifying the impeachment under 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.[10][11] The lack of lawsuit disclosure by Hall is not unique -- more than 9,000 lawsuits were not disclosed by other appointed Texas officials.[12] No unelected official has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[13] Governor of Texas Rick Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[14] He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater."[15] 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.[16]

In December 2013, the organization Empower Texans sent a mailer criticizing committee chair Carol Alvarado. The mailer stated that lawmakers improperly focused on Hall's behavior, rather than investigating the allegations of clout at the University of Texas, Austin. Alvarado called the mailer the action of "an outside group that’s trying to influence an investigation." Empower Texans president Michael Quinn Sullivan said the legislature was engaging in a "whitewashing" of potential university wrongdoings. "We're impeaching someone for asking questions," he said.[17][18]

Records request

On September 16, 2013, the organization filed an open records request for the list of possible witnesses in the trial. On September 25, the committee responded and denied to release the information, claiming that the information was confidential by law. The committee requested an opinion from the Attorney General of Texas on the matter, seeking an exception from open records requests.[19] Empower Texans has taken the position that the committee violated House Rule 413 by refusing to allow Hall's attorneys the right to cross-examine witnesses.[20]

Scorecard

See also: Empower Texans Fiscal Responsibility Index

The organization produces a Fiscal Responsibility Index. The index is a measurement of how lawmakers perform on size and role of government issues. It was first produced in 2007 and has been released every-other-year since then.[21]

Board members

The following list of board members is current as of November 2013.[1]

  • Tim Dunn, Chairman
  • Jeff Sandefer
  • Joel Trammell
  • Lee Dunn
  • Luke Dunn
  • Michael Quinn Sullivan

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Empower Texans"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Empower Texans News Feed

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External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Empower Texans "About Us," Accessed November 6, 2013
  2. Empower Texans "Witch Hunt Denies Wallace Hall His Right to Cross-Examine," September 18, 2013
  3. American Spectator "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
  4. Daily Texas Online "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
  5. Daily Texas Online "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
  6. Dallas Morning News "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
  7. Watchdog "‘Witch hunt’ fallout: Speaker calls for narrower public records law," February 5, 2014
  8. Texas Tribune "UT System Responds to Transparency Committee Directives," February 3, 2014
  9. Texas Tribune "Cigarroa letter to the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations," February 1, 2014
  10. Texas Tribune "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
  11. Real Clear Policy "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
  12. Watchdog.org "Case against UT regent Wallace Hall is a sham — here’s proof," September 6, 2013
  13. News-Journal "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
  14. Texas Tribune "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
  15. Texas Tribune "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
  16. Texas Public Radio "UT Regent Wallace Hall Will Testify In Impeachment Hearing," November 13, 2013
  17. Houston Chronicle "Empower Texans mailer criticizes Hall impeachment panel," December 19, 2013
  18. My San Antonio "Clout Mailer from Empower Texans," December 19, 2013
  19. Empower Texans "Letter from Transparency Committee," Accessed November 26, 2013
  20. Empower Texans "'Transparency' Committee Lurks in the Shadows," October 4, 2013
  21. Empower Texans "Scorecard," Accessed November 6, 2013