Governor Perry Stands Up for UT Regent Hall

In the midst of the Texas House drafting articles of impeachment against University of Texas system regent Wallace Hall, Jr., Governor Rick Perry issued "one of his strongest statements yet" in support of the Dallas businessman, according to the Washington Times.


Perry, who appointed Hall to the Board of Regents in 2011, stepped in and defended Hall. The beleaguered regent is under investigation for requesting massive amounts of records from the flagship Austin campus and for allegedly violating confidentiality laws. Hall has said previously that records requests were a part of his job and that he found evidence of wrongdoing.


Perry stood up for the regent last week. He said, "Hall is doing what every regent and every appointee in the State of Texas should be doing: asking tough questions, gathering facts and searching for the truth," the Washington Times reported.


This is not the first time the governor has defended Hall. Last year, Perry harshly dismissed the legislative inquiry that could result in Hall's impeachment as "some extraordinary political theater," according to the Dallas Morning News


At the time, they also reported that Perry addressed his support of Hall to ask questions, stating that trying to hinder any appointee from legitimate inquiries into how state institutions are run is "very, very bad public policy" and "sending a horrible message to the public."


Hall told the Texas Tribune in a June 25, 2013 one-on-one interview that his actions were to seek the facts and he did so with the "full support of the chancellor and the majority of the board."


In that interview, Hall explained that his initial review of pre-existing open records was part of an effort to make system-wide improvements "in how we manage our TPIA (Texas Public Information Act) requests," emphasizing the value of public information for the board and the chancellor in their official duties.


A few facts that Hall said came to light that were the sources of President William Power's "discontent" with his efforts included the "UT knowingly and improperly counted over $215 million in gifts that simply did not exist" under Powers' leadership; and the law school issues, which "came to the board's attention in December 2011 through an open records request by law school faculty resulting in President Powers calling the (board) chairman and chancellor."  Hall told this to the Tribune in the interview.


Apparently, Hall isn't the only board member to clash with Powers over a "myriad of issues, including tuition and graduation rates and the role of teaching and research in education," according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.


Hall's steadfast pursuit of records and "questions over Powers' leadership," is what catapulted him into the harsh spotlight with lawmakers, including receiving "criticism from some powerful Texas alumni and donors," the article also said.


"If I thought I had done something deserving impeachment, I would resign, and I'm not resigning," Hall said in the Tribune interview.


Governor Perry felt that it was the right thing to do when he again spoke up on Hall's behalf last week.  Perry strongly cautioned, "Texans should be outraged by his treatment, and deeply concerned it will have a chilling effect on those who are tasked with the oversight of state agencies and institutions that they are responsible for," according to the Washington Times.


Perry and Hall are closely aligned, according to the Dallas Morning News, in their efforts to "enact higher-education reforms that emphasize teaching over research."


Last year, Perry said that he hoped "the information that is, at the end of the day, found clearly absolves (Hall) of any impropriety."

Breitbart Texas reported on the request from Regents Chairman Paul Foster calling for Hall to step down from the Board of Regents.  The impeachment investigation, which started nearly one year ago, is expected to drag on for a while.  Even with Perry's unwavering support of Hall, the panel seems to be single-mindedly focused on filing formal charges.  They reconvene on July 7.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @outoftheboxmom.



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