The Houston Chronicle & several other print media dinosaurs in Texas have tried, convicted & want to execute UT Regent Wallace Hall. What crime did Mr. Hall commit that was so heinous that the House of Representatives House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations committee is considering impeachment for the first time ever of a Texas gubernatorial appointee? He requested “too much information” about the operations of the UT system, even though he is mandated by Board of Regents Rules & Regulations to do so in Sec 3.1:
3.1 In carrying out the duties and responsibilities referenced in Section 1 above, it is the responsibility of each Regent to be knowledgeable in some detail regarding the operations, management, finances, and effectiveness of the academic, research, and public service programs of the U. T. System, and each member of the Board of Regents has the right and authority to inform himself/herself as to the duties, responsibilities, and obligations of the member in such a manner as they each may deem proper. Members of the Board of Regents are to be provided access to such information as in their individual judgments will enable them to fulfill their duties and responsibilities as Regents of the U. T. System.
At one point it was alleged that Mr. Wallace Hall violated the law by receiving and passing on FERPA ( Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) protected material. At the end of the hand wringing one particular day of “pre-impeachment” hearings it was concluded that Mr. Hall was not in possession of FERPA protected materials. In a stunning twist, the lawyer representing the University of Texas, Phillip Hilder, issued a report at the request of vocal Democratic critic (and limelight seeker) Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (not even his real name) that states that Mr. Hilder finds “no credible evidence of a violation of 552.352 or of any other state or federal law”. Even more interesting, according to this enlightening article over at EmpowerTexans.com, is that it appears Texas elected officials are using the Elijah Cummings tactic of shutting down leads before they can be developed because we find some facts that are unsavory.
Why would anyone be interested in what appears to be almost a “regional” story, too complex to unravel? Because it goes to the heart of what reigning in all levels of powerful government looks like. Watch as a “Watchdog” attempts to uncover powerful forces of graft & corruption. Watch as his reputation is viciously attacked even before ALL of the facts are known. Watch, as at every turn Mr. Hall is denied the opportunity to put on an actual defense case. Mr. Hall is being attacked because he donates money to the wrong causes. Mr. Hall is being attacked because a protected liberal institution is close to being uncovered for the horrific waste of money it is accustomed to spending with no real oversight. Mr. Hall has swerved into some disturbing instances of state elected legislators using their powers to get family members admitted to UT Law school after they had been denied by applying through the route of the peasants. You see Mr. Hall has been on to something, and the deeper he looks the farther the trail has taken him. That’s how investigative stories go most of the time. To have “news outlets” not assist in uncovering wrong doing by elected officials leads the obvious question of why? I contend that they suspect the “wrong kind” of elected officials (liberal GOP & Democrats) will be implicated. Secondarily, it is easier to make the Governor look bad if they can say his appointee “may have broken the law” rather than say “his appointee uncovered widespread corruption at the University of Texas”.
In the end, a move to impeach Wallace Hall would most likely be a Godsend for Mr. Hall. When the trial moves to the Senate, Mr. Hall then gets to lay out ALL the facts he has discovered to this point. He can name names and reveal facts that have conveniently been left out to this point. I predict there will be a conviction in the press, puffery and bloviating from politicians about transparency, the rule of law, integrity, blah, blah, but no trial. It is much easier to convict in the court of public opinion when you have the ability to drown out Mr. Hall’s defense. Those proclaiming love of transparency can’t afford for Mr. Hall to reveal what he knows on the record, forever enshrined in the legal system.
There are those who have learned to use the language of watchdogs. They have learned to wrap their political attacks in the jargon of transparency and accountability, but in the end they desire only to convict conservative political opponents who get in the way of their Utopian, unicorn farms. Watching those who watch watchdogs seems to be more work than some people are willing report on.