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The Right Hails Hall

Regent refuses to go quietly

By Richard Whittaker, Fri., May 23, 2014

Wallace Hall
Wallace Hall

Lawmakers want to impeach him. His fellow UT System Regents want him to quit. But Wallace Hall has decided he's going to stay on the system board until they lever him out. Surprisingly, the Koch brothers-funded right has fallen in behind him, in an increasingly ugly and tense fight over the governance of the state's top university.

Hall has become a burr under UT's saddle, accused of running a politically motivated witch hunt to force out UT President Bill Pow­ers. He failed, but on May 12 the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations voted 7-1 to move forward with impeachment proceedings over how Hall abused his office (see "Committee Finds Grounds for Hall Impeachment," May 16). Three days later, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the system board, Chairman Paul Foster attempted to bring the highly embarrassing and damaging situation to a close by requesting that Hall step down. While he was not prepared to force a no-confidence vote – nor was he prepared to say that Hall had done anything wrong – Foster said Hall should resign, for the good of the institution.

Foster joins a chorus of voices demanding that Hall quit. Transparency Select Com­mit­tee Co-Chair Carol Alvarado, D-Hous­ton, commended Foster and said, "I encourage Regent Hall to do what is in the best interest of UT System students and institutions." The Texas Coalition for Excel­lence in Higher Education echoed her stance, noting that "it is clear from these Regents' statements that Regent Hall's actions have become a significant distraction and detriment to effective governance by the Board, and by extension, the entire UT System."

But Hall wasn't looking to accept any good wishes in his future endeavors. He quickly responded by letter to Foster, saying he would not resign. And he seems to have attracted some well-funded allies on the fringe right, not least the Texas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which savaged Alvarado's committee and tried to paint Hall as the hero of the tale. In a joint statement, State Direc­tor Mike Hasson and Policy Director Peggy Venable wrote that he had "revealed some activities, which, at minimum, deserve public scrutiny and may well reveal evidence of wrongdoing."

Follow the money time: AFP was founded and is funded by American oligarchs the Koch Bros. In an odd coincidence, so is the Franklin Center, which runs the research/attack group Watchdog.org. The day after the Transparency Committee meeting, it published a dossier that it claims backs Hall's allegation that lawmakers used their influence with Powers to get relatives into UT Law School. With the committee scheduled to draft impeachment articles today, May 22, the question is, which limb of the Koch hydra will strike next?

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