- Associated Press - Monday, April 7, 2014

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - University of Texas System regent Wallace Hall may have committed impeachable offenses in his campaign to oust Bill Powers from the presidency of the system’s flagship Austin university, according to a draft of a long-awaited legislative committee report.

The 176-page draft of the report by the Texas House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations went out to committee members Friday, the San Antonio Express-News reported (https://bit.ly/1mUH6Yj ). The newspaper obtained a copy of that report.

The House formed the committee specifically to investigate Hall’s efforts to oust Powers. The turmoil was part of a two-year power struggle between some regents associated with Gov. Rick Perry, including Hall, and Powers loyalists at UT, one of the nation’s largest campuses.

Perry appointed Hall, a Dallas businessman, to be a regent in February 2011. The committee and its special counsel, Rusty Hardin of Houston, reviewed more than 150,000 pages of documents involving Hall, according to the report.

According to the draft, Hall leaked confidential student information in apparent violation of state and federal laws, as well as manipulated the House committee’s investigation and coerced its witnesses.

Both activities are “particularly troubling and potentially criminal in nature,” and the leaks likely violated the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and the Texas Public Information Act, the draft said.

Hall’s attorney, Allan Van Fleet of Houston, told the newspaper that he had not seen the report draft and declined to comment.

The coercion allegations center on Hall’s efforts to get Powers and other UT officials to change their testimony to the committee. Hall allegedly also “sought retaliatory employment action despite the committee’s express request that no such action be taken during the course of the investigation,” the report stated.

Previously revealed emails between Hall and UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa showed Hall accused Cigarroa of falling down on the job for not moving against Powers and Vice President Kevin Hegarty.

The report, prepared by Hardin’s Houston law firm, also alleges Hall abused his powers by demanding tens of thousands of pages of documents from UT, costing the university more than $1 million. In his testimony to the committee last fall, Hegarty had said Hall demanded about 800,000 pages of documents under the Texas Public Information Act. Hall maintained that he asked for fewer than 100,000 pages.

In his February emails to Cigarroa, Hall also disputed Powers‘ testimony in front of the committee regarding policy for the accounting rules for fundraising. Powers and Hegarty have stood by their testimony.


Information from: San Antonio Express-News, https://www.mysanantonio.com

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