Inthe midst of the Texas House drafting articles of impeachment against Universityof Texas system regent Wallace Hall, Jr., Governor Rick Perry issued “oneof 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 theflagship Austin campus and for allegedly violating confidentiality laws. Hall has said previously that recordsrequests were a part of his job and that he found evidence of wrongdoing.
Perrystood up for the regent last week. Hesaid, “Hall is doing what every regent and every appointee in the State ofTexas should be doing: asking tough questions, gathering facts and searchingfor the truth,” the Washington Times reported.
Thisis not the first time the governor has defended Hall. Last year, Perryharshly dismissed the legislative inquiry that could result in Hall’simpeachment as “some extraordinary political theater,” according tothe Dallas Morning News.
At the time, they also reported that Perry addressed his support of Hall to ask questions, statingthat trying to hinder any appointee from legitimate inquiries into how stateinstitutions are run is “very, very bad public policy” and
Hall told the Texas Tribune in a June 25, 2013 one-on-one interview that his actions were to seekthe facts and he did so with the “full support of the chancellor and themajority of the board.”
In that interview, Hall explained that his initial review of pre-existing openrecords was part of an effort to make system-wide improvements “in how wemanage our TPIA (Texas Public Information Act) requests,” emphasizing the value of public information for the board and the chancellor in their officialduties.
A few facts that Hall said came to light that were the sources of President William Power’simproperly counted over $215 million in gifts that simply did not exist”under Powers’ leadership; and the law school issues, which “came to theboard’s attention in December 2011 through an open records request by lawschool faculty resulting in President Powers calling the (board) chairman andchancellor.” Hall told this to the Tribune in the interview.
Apparently,Hall isn’t the only board member to clash with Powers over a “myriad ofissues, including tuition and graduation rates and the role of teaching andresearch in education,” according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Hall’ssteadfast pursuit of records and “questions over Powers’ leadership,”is what catapulted him into the harsh spotlight with lawmakers, including receiving “criticismfrom some powerful Texas alumni and donors,” the article also said.
“If I thought I had donesomething 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 againspoke up on Hall’s behalf last week. Perry strongly cautioned, “Texans should be outraged byhis treatment, and deeply concerned it will have a chilling effect on those whoare tasked with the oversight of state agencies and institutions that they areresponsible for,” according to the Washington Times.
Perryand Hall are closely aligned, according to the Dallas Morning News, in theirefforts to “enact higher-education reforms that emphasize teaching overresearch.”
Last year, Perry said that he hoped “theinformation that is, at the end of the day, found clearly absolves (Hall) ofany 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.