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Thu December 19, 2013
Lawmakers Chastise UT Regent For Failing To Testify
Texas lawmakers in charge of investigating the actions of University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall say they’re deeply offended by the embattled Regent not showing up to testify. Hall’s attorney is demanding his client be subpoenaed and given legal protections.
The two-day hearing was to feature the UT System’s Chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa, and UT-Austin President Bill Powers, who many believe was the target of UT Regent Wallace Hall’s massive document and open-records search. The House Select Committee on Transparency of Governmental Agency Operations’ Co-Chair, Canton Republican Rep. Dan Flynn, says they were also expecting to hear from Hall on the last day of the hearing.
Flynn says, “The letters to the committee by his lawyer have been offensive and quite frankly have been affront to the entire Texas House of Representatives. It feels like slap in the face.”
The Committee Co-chair Houston Democratic Rep. Carol Alvarado adds, "I too was disappointed to learn that Regent Hall declined our invitation to testify. His actions are clearly the subject of this investigation. Mr. Hall has said time and time again that he was anxious and more than willing to tell his side of the story. Transparency requires cooperation.”
But Lubbock Republican Rep. Charles Perry understood Hall and his attorney’s reasoning for turning down lawmakers’ invitation to testify.
“Given the nature that this committee has broached the subject of possible criminal actions,” Perry says, “I think it’s only fair to acknowledge that if he were to testify on his own accord without a subpoena he would be giving up some defensive immunity.”
The Legislature's general counsel, attorney Rusty Hardin, says Hall has also declined requests from the Attorney General’s Office as to his reasoning behind the thousands of open-records requests that are at the center of lawmakers’ investigation.
Hardin says, “I might point out to the committee that the irony here is that the man who demanded all of the documents that you’ve heard about within seven to eight days, has so far been telling the Attorney General’s Office that he’s too busy to reduce his complainants to writing.”
Some lawmakers on the committee believe Hall will be first person who didn’t appear on their on behalf while at the center of a legislative investigation. Hall is accused of a overstepping his authority and disturbing students’ private and financial information.