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Difference between revisions of "Wallace Hall"

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On August 5, 2013, [[Kevin Hegarty]], chief financial officer for the University of Texas-Austin, announced that the records requests from Hall would be cancelled immediately.<ref>[http://www.texastribune.org/2013/08/06/pending-review-ut-cancels-regents-records-requests/ ''Texas Tribune'' "August 6, 2013,"]</ref> In August 2013, Chancellor [[Francisco Cigarroa]] recommended a "targeted compliance review" of how officials at the University of Texas, Austin were handling public record requests. In August 2013, the [[University of Texas System Board of Regents]] approved two measures to reform problems that Hall had discovered in his investigations. The regents voted to enact a new policy regarding the relationship between universities and foundations. Additionally, the regents approved an audit into how officials respond to public information requests.<ref>[http://watchdog.org/102521/university-of-texas-regents-show-support-for-wallace-hall/ ''Watchdog.org'' "University of Texas regents show support for Wallace Hall," August 22, 2013]</ref>
 
On August 5, 2013, [[Kevin Hegarty]], chief financial officer for the University of Texas-Austin, announced that the records requests from Hall would be cancelled immediately.<ref>[http://www.texastribune.org/2013/08/06/pending-review-ut-cancels-regents-records-requests/ ''Texas Tribune'' "August 6, 2013,"]</ref> In August 2013, Chancellor [[Francisco Cigarroa]] recommended a "targeted compliance review" of how officials at the University of Texas, Austin were handling public record requests. In August 2013, the [[University of Texas System Board of Regents]] approved two measures to reform problems that Hall had discovered in his investigations. The regents voted to enact a new policy regarding the relationship between universities and foundations. Additionally, the regents approved an audit into how officials respond to public information requests.<ref>[http://watchdog.org/102521/university-of-texas-regents-show-support-for-wallace-hall/ ''Watchdog.org'' "University of Texas regents show support for Wallace Hall," August 22, 2013]</ref>
 +
 +
In October 2013, Pitts acknowledged that he routinely writes letters to [[Bill Powers]], President of the University of Texas, on behalf of select student applications. Specifically, he wrote a letter on behalf of his son after the University of Texas law school had initially rejected his admittance. "The letter I wrote for my son was pretty much a form letter," Pitts said in an October meeting of the [[Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations (Select), Texas House of Representatives|Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee]]. These letters were sent to both the law school dean and the university president.<ref>[http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/362003/ongoing-texas-travesty-kevin-d-williamson ''National Review'' "The Ongoing Texas Travesty," October 23, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://watchdog.org/112204/lawmaker-admits-pulling-strings-on-ut-admissions/ ''Watchdog'' "Lawmaker admits pulling strings on UT admissions," October 23, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/356432/curious-and-curiouser-case-wallace-hall-kevin-williamson ''National Review'' "The Curious and Curiouser Case of Wallace Hall," August 21, 2013]</ref>
  
 
==Impeachment proceedings==
 
==Impeachment proceedings==
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During a September 2013 panel conversation with state senator [[Kirk Watson]], Hall defended his investigations and criticized the impeachment proceedings. "Impeachment is used to protect the public, not to punish an individual. Do you think I’m protecting the public, or do you think the politicians that are coming after me are protecting the public?"<ref>[http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2013/09/28/regent-wallace-hall-sen-kirk-watson-debate-regents-role-impeachment ''Daily Texas Online'' "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013]</ref>  
 
During a September 2013 panel conversation with state senator [[Kirk Watson]], Hall defended his investigations and criticized the impeachment proceedings. "Impeachment is used to protect the public, not to punish an individual. Do you think I’m protecting the public, or do you think the politicians that are coming after me are protecting the public?"<ref>[http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2013/09/28/regent-wallace-hall-sen-kirk-watson-debate-regents-role-impeachment ''Daily Texas Online'' "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013]</ref>  
 
Pitts acknowledged that he routinely writes letters to Bill Powers, President of the University of Texas, on behalf of select student applications. Specifically, he wrote a letter on behalf of his son after the University of Texas law school had initially rejected his admittance. "The letter I wrote for my son was pretty much a form letter," Pitts said in an October meeting of the [[Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations (Select), Texas House of Representatives|Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee]]. These letters were sent to both the law school dean and the university president.<ref>[http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/362003/ongoing-texas-travesty-kevin-d-williamson ''National Review'' "The Ongoing Texas Travesty," October 23, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://watchdog.org/112204/lawmaker-admits-pulling-strings-on-ut-admissions/ ''Watchdog'' "Lawmaker admits pulling strings on UT admissions," October 23, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/356432/curious-and-curiouser-case-wallace-hall-kevin-williamson ''National Review'' "The Curious and Curiouser Case of Wallace Hall," August 21, 2013]</ref>
 
  
 
For Hall to be impeached, the [[Texas State Legislature|State Legislature]] would have to be called into a [[Wallace Hall impeachment trial#Impeachment procedures|special session]] because the legislature meets in the spring of odd-numbered years.  
 
For Hall to be impeached, the [[Texas State Legislature|State Legislature]] would have to be called into a [[Wallace Hall impeachment trial#Impeachment procedures|special session]] because the legislature meets in the spring of odd-numbered years.  

Revision as of 18:18, 5 December 2013

Wallace Hall
Wallace Hall.jpg
University of Texas Board of Regents
Incumbent
In office
February 2011-Present
Term ends
February 2017
Years in position 3
PartyNon-partisan
Elections and appointments
AppointedFebruary 2011
Appointed byRick Perry
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sUniversity of Texas-Austin (1984)
Websites
Office website
Wallace Hall is a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents. Hall was appointed to a six-year term in February 2011 by Rick Perry (R).[1]

In 2013, Hall has been involved in controversial University of Texas investigations. Following his appointment as a regent in 2011, Hall began examining political favoritism and forgivable loans programs at the University of Texas. Following a large number of FOIA requests, state legislators initiated an investigation into possibly impeaching Hall.[2][3][4] The impeachment process has been criticized by Governor of Texas Rick Perry, with some calling the process an effort to criminalize policy differences.[5][6]

The current investigation is being conducted by the Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations committee. The most that the select committee can do would be to recommend to the full state house that articles of impeachment be drafted. If that is the case, then the state house must follow procedures outlined regarding calling a special session specifically for the process of impeachment.[7]

Biography

Hall graduated from the University of Texas, Austin in 1984 with a Bachelor's in Economics. He si the founder and President of Wetland Partners, LP, which operates the Trinity River Mitigation Bank, a wetlands bank created to mitigate USACE approved environmental impacts to the aquatic system as per the Clean Water Act.[8] In August 2009, Hall was appointed by Governor Perry to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.[9]

Clout investigations

See also: Political favoritism in admissions to the University of Texas and Forgivable loans program at the University of Texas Law School

After he was appointed in 2011, Hall began looking into what he believed to be clout scandals within the University of Texas system. According to Hall, the investigations turned up three major findings.[10]

  • Forgivable loans programs
  • Improper methods of reporting donations
  • Legislative influence over admissions processes

Hall investigated the university's forgivable-loans program and admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals.[11] 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.[12] Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden.[13][14]

In March 2013, the Board of Regents voted to re-open the forgivable loans investigation. This action was approved by regents Hall, Brenda Pejovich, Paul Foster and Alex Cranberg. Some legislators including Judith Zaffirini (D), Trey Fischer (D) and Kevin Eltife (R) criticized the action as a waste of taxpayer funds. In one specific email exchange among the FOIA'd documents, University of Texas Budget Director Mary Knight emailed President Powers in June 2009 about salaries of UT officials. The email specifically mentioned Larry Sager, with Knight writing: "note: Sager was included due to his $100K per year deferred compensation over 5 years." The email refers to the $500,000 forgivable loan that Sager received which eventually contributed to his forced resignation. While Powers maintained that he had been unaware of the loan until the official UT report was conducted, some regents believe that the email from Knight in 2009 proves otherwise.[15][16]

On August 5, 2013, Kevin Hegarty, chief financial officer for the University of Texas-Austin, announced that the records requests from Hall would be cancelled immediately.[17] In August 2013, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa recommended a "targeted compliance review" of how officials at the University of Texas, Austin were handling public record requests. In August 2013, the University of Texas System Board of Regents approved two measures to reform problems that Hall had discovered in his investigations. The regents voted to enact a new policy regarding the relationship between universities and foundations. Additionally, the regents approved an audit into how officials respond to public information requests.[18]

In October 2013, Pitts acknowledged that he routinely writes letters to Bill Powers, President of the University of Texas, on behalf of select student applications. Specifically, he wrote a letter on behalf of his son after the University of Texas law school had initially rejected his admittance. "The letter I wrote for my son was pretty much a form letter," Pitts said in an October meeting of the Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee. These letters were sent to both the law school dean and the university president.[19][20][21]

Impeachment proceedings

See also: Wallace Hall impeachment trial

Seal of Texas.svg.png

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

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.[22][23] No unelected official has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[24] Governor of Texas Rick Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[25]

In 2013, the Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Ed Governance, Excellence & Transparency inquired into the possibility of an impeachment. In an April 2013 interview with Texas Monthly, Hall said that there was little outreach from state officials about the process prior to the impeachment proceedings. "[Committee co-chairman] Dan Branch has been a friend of mine for many years. He’s never asked me a question about this situation, and the next thing I know he’s asking his staff to investigate the rules for impeachment. I’m mystified by that, frankly," Hall said.[26]

On June 24, 2013, State House representative Jim Pitts (R) filed a resolution to advance along impeachment proceedings of Hall by the select committee.[27] However, Joe Straus, House Speaker, issued a proclamation that expanded the committee's jurisdiction to allow it to propose articles of impeachment against executive appointees.

The committee hired Rusty Hardin to serve as legal counsel for the committee. Hardin, a well-known Houston attorney, represented former Major League Baseball player Roger Clemens in his steroid trials.[28][29]

In July 2013, University of Texas Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Regent Eugene Powell responded to the ongoing investigation and negative remarks against Hall from some elected officials and University of Texas staff. Cigarroa said Hall was not allowed to access anything that was not reviewed by University lawyers to ensure they met federal privacy standards. In a July 15, 2013 letter to state representative Jim Pitts, Powell wrote: "Regent Hall's efforts extend to bringing the U.T. System into a competitive position nationally; especially related to offering blended and online learning opportunities to U.T. students. I would point out Regent Hall's excellent service to the Board in terms of time and energy. I appreciate his Board service and his dedication and hard work designed to fulfill his fiduciary obligations.[30][31]

In a letter dated August 15, 2013, Hall responded to the committee via his lawyer. The letter expanded upon the reasons for Hall's investigation.[32] According to the letter, Hall found that "allegations of political influence in the admissions process appear in some instances to be true."[33]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

"Regent Hall found correspondence on behalf of a [state] Representative inquiring about the admission of the Member’s adult son or daughter to a UT Austin graduate school. Although the dean had previously stated the applicant did not meet the school’s standards and would need to either retake the graduate admission exam or attend another graduate school first, upon information and belief, the son or daughter was in fact admitted without retaking the test or attending another school. Regent Hall found other correspondence in which a [state] Senator sought special consideration for an applicant who had been rejected, but was strongly supported by another Senator. In the communication, the Senator seeking special treatment reminded the UT Austin official of recent legislative action taken to benefit The University. Upon information and belief, the rejected applicant was subsequently admitted to UT Austin."[33]

During a September 2013 panel conversation with state senator Kirk Watson, Hall defended his investigations and criticized the impeachment proceedings. "Impeachment is used to protect the public, not to punish an individual. Do you think I’m protecting the public, or do you think the politicians that are coming after me are protecting the public?"[34]

For Hall to be impeached, the State Legislature would have to be called into a special session because the legislature meets in the spring of odd-numbered years.

Richard Legon, president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, criticized the impeachment process in a November interview with the Austin American Statesman. He called the impeachment process the "nuclear option" and said it could send a chilling signal to other members of higher education boards. Legon suggested that the board should have first been given the opportunity to address Hall's requests. "It’s fine for a board member to seek information through the appropriate path. The first layer of reining in an overly aggressive board member should be the board," he said.[35]

Subpoena

At a meeting on November 12, 2013, the committee issued subpoenas for Dan Sharphorn, University of Texas Vice Chancellor and General Counsel; Francie Frederick, General Counsel to the University of Texas System Board of Regents; Barbara Holthaus, System Senior Attorney; and Hall, who was expected to testify at the December 10, 2013 meeting.[36][37]

However, only hours after initially filing the subpoena for Hall, committee members suddenly recalled it. Carol Alvarado said the members acted too quickly without checking their schedule. The subpoena was issued for December 10, but no meeting is scheduled until December 18.[38]

Football coach controversy

The issue surrounding head football coach Mack Brown has divided members of the University of Texas, Austin community. In January 2013, Hall reportedly spoke with University of Alabama coach Nick Saban's agent about the possibility of his replacing Brown.[39] University President Bill Powers expressed support for Brown, who has been coach since 1998.[40] While Saban has maintained he had no interest in leaving Alabama, a November report cited Saban's agent hinting at the possibility that Saban would leave Alabama for Texas.[41]

On November 6, 2013, the Houston Chronicle reported that Hall had said the University of Texas would be "under new leadership" by the end of 2013, during a phone call with University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban's agent. The Texas Tribune acquired a memo that was sent from Tom Hicks to his brother, regent Steven Hicks, detailing the phone conversation between Hicks, Hall and Jimmy Sexton, Saban's agent. The phone call took place on January 5, 2013 according to the email. Hicks wrote: "Specifically, he made the statement the[sic] Bil Powers wouldn't be here at the end of the year."[42][43]

Regents committees

Hall serves on the following Board standing committees:[44]

  • Audit, Compliance, and Management Review
  • Finance and Planning
  • Technology Transfer and Research

See also

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References

  1. Dallas Morning News "Perry appoints new UT Regents," February 1, 2011
  2. Texas Public Radio "UT Regent Wallace Hall Will Testify In Impeachment Hearing," November 13, 2013
  3. National Review "Texas Legislature Should Stop Targeting Wallace Hall," November 12, 2013
  4. Dallas Morning News "Texas House committee subpoenas UT System regent, then recalls it," November 12, 2013
  5. Daily Caller "Texas tries to topple higher-ed transparency," November 21, 2013
  6. Fort Worth Star-Telegram "Perry calls regent impeachment “political theater”," October 30, 2013
  7. Texas Government Code "Title 6, Chapter 665," Accessed November 25, 2013
  8. UT System "Regent Wallace L. Hall, Jr.," Accessed October 30, 2013
  9. Governor of Texas "Gov. Perry Appoints Three to Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board," August 20, 2009
  10. American Spectator "Rogue Hall Monitors," November 11, 2013
  11. American Spectator "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
  12. Daily Texas Online "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
  13. Daily Texas Online "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
  14. Dallas Morning News "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
  15. Houston Chronicle "UT email exchange may provide key to controversy," March 24, 2013
  16. Houston Chronicle "Perry-UT power struggle intensifies," March 25, 2013
  17. Texas Tribune "August 6, 2013,"
  18. Watchdog.org "University of Texas regents show support for Wallace Hall," August 22, 2013
  19. National Review "The Ongoing Texas Travesty," October 23, 2013
  20. Watchdog "Lawmaker admits pulling strings on UT admissions," October 23, 2013
  21. National Review "The Curious and Curiouser Case of Wallace Hall," August 21, 2013
  22. Texas Tribune "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
  23. Real Clear Policy "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
  24. News-Journal "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
  25. Texas Tribune "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
  26. Texas Monthly "The Wallace Hall Interview," April 15, 2013
  27. Alcalde "Pitts Files Resolution to Impeach UT Regent Wallace Hall," June 24, 2013
  28. My San Antonio "Pitts denounces UT regent’s document requests," October 22, 2013
  29. Houston Chronicle "Impeachment committee hires Rusty Hardin," August 23, 2013
  30. Texas Tribune "UT System Pushes Back Against Criticism of Regent Hall," July 16, 2013
  31. University of Texas System "Letter from Eugene Powell to Jim Pitts," July 15, 2013
  32. Texas Tribune "Wallace Hall's Lawyer: "Not a Basis for Impeachment"," August 15, 2013
  33. 33.0 33.1 Texas Tribune "Letter from Wallace Hall to Committee" August 15, 2013
  34. Daily Texas Online "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
  35. Austin American Statesman "A UT regent impeachment could make other boards cautious, expert says," November 29, 2013
  36. Texas Tribune "UT Regent Hall Subpoenaed to Testify Before Committee," November 12, 2013
  37. Albany Times Union "Texas House committee subpoenas Hall for Dec. 10," November 12, 2013
  38. Texas Tribune "Committee Recalls Subpoena for UT Regent Hall," November 12, 2013
  39. Sports Illustrated "What happened to the once-dominant Texas athletic program?," October 8, 2013
  40. ESPN "Bill Powers: 'Mack has my support'" September 14, 2013
  41. Dallas Morning News "Nick Saban's agent told UT officials in January that only Texas could lure coach from Alabama," November 5, 2013
  42. Houston Chronicle "Regent told Saban’s agent UT-Austin prez would be gone by year’s end," November 6, 2013
  43. Texas Tribune "Hall Said Powers Would Be Gone by Year's End," November 6, 2013
  44. University of Texas System "Board Committees," Accessed October 31, 2013