Legal Battle With Dell Medical School Continues

Attorney Fred Lewis claims school withheld public information

Legal Battle With Dell Medical School Continues
by Jana Birchum

Austin lawyer Fred Lewis has resumed his war of words with UT-Austin's Dell Medical School, accusing the school of withholding public information. UT's attorneys have requested an opinion from the state attorney general on whether they can withhold certain documents that Lewis has requested, in his ongoing campaign to determine whether the Medical School is legally spending annual funding it receives from Cen­tral Health Care District property taxes. In a press release, Lewis accuses the Medical School of refusing to release "any part of its strategic plans for health care for the poor," because those plans may be "proprietary."

"It is quite difficult to understand how UT's strategic future plans for the poor's health care are proprietary," Lewis continues, and concludes: "Does it intend to profit off the poor? If so, it should share the profits with Central Health, benefiting the poor and taxpayers." Lewis and an allied group, Help Ensure Accountable Leadership and Transparency in Health, have repeatedly accused the Med School of misappropriating Central Health funds for purposes other than direct health care for the poor.

Dell Medical School spokesman Stephen Scheibal responded to Lewis' latest accusations in a statement: "The Dell Medical School released 41 documents, including 28 strategic planning documents, in response to Mr. Lewis' open records request. ... UT-Austin is seeking guidance from the attorney general on whether to release an additional six documents to ensure that we are complying with Texas public information laws and the exemptions they specify.

"The six documents include details about specific processes and plans that could improve health in Travis County and Central Texas. We don't want to compromise the potential benefits we might offer this community by sharing information that may not be public and from which others might seek to profit. We want to ensure that we are complying with the law, and we will follow the guidance we receive from the Texas attorney general."

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Fred Lewis
How Efficient Is Your City?
How Efficient Is Your City?
Austin may be about to find out

Chase Hoffberger, July 20, 2018

More by Michael King
<i>Hope and Hard Truth: A Life in Texas Politics</i>
Hope and Hard Truth: A Life in Texas Politics
Life beyond the governor’s office with Ann Richards’ chief aide

Sept. 2, 2022

Embattled Doctor Prevails Against the Texas Medical Board
Embattled Doctor Prevails Against the Texas Medical Board
The little guy wins

June 24, 2022


Fred Lewis, Dell Medical School

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle