- Associated Press - Thursday, September 4, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A Travis County prosecutor said Thursday he will ask a grand jury to look into whether a University of Texas System regent illegally released confidential student information during his relentless pursuit of Austin campus records.

State lawmakers censured Regent Wallace Hall over his actions during a years-long personal investigation of the campus administration, including President Bill Powers. Travis County’s Public Integrity Unit, which prosecutes public corruption cases, has been separately investigating Hall.

Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox, who leads the unit, said he plans to take the case to a grand jury “in the near future.”

“Just because we’re going to a grand jury doesn’t mean we think there’s an offense, (but) there are certain things we think are better to be aired out and … let a jury of citizens take a look at it,” Cox said.

Hall did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment but has previously said he believes he did nothing wrong.

The Public Integrity Unit is the investigating office at the center of felony abuse of power charges against Gov. Rick Perry. Perry vetoed state funding for the office in 2013 after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign following a drunken driving arrest.

A special prosecutor was appointed to investigate a complaint against Perry and a grand jury indicted the governor last month.

Hall was appointed by Perry to the Board of Regents in 2011.

Hall’s case was initially sent to the Travis County prosecutors by a special House panel investigating whether he should be impeached and potentially removed from office. A report prepared by the panel’s attorney said Hall may have violated state and federal student privacy laws.

The panel initially determined there were grounds to impeach Hall, but in August voted for a lesser punishment of censure, a public scolding that did not strip him of any powers. The panel said it could come back with articles of impeachment at a late date if necessary.


Information from: Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com



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