The continuing battle between some legislators and members of the UT System Board of Regents continues unabated. Now State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer wants to look at the computers, iPad and smartphone of embattled regent Wallace Hall.
Martinez Fischer has asked Rusty Hardin, special counsel to the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, to provide an expert witness at the next round of hearings on the possibility of examining the personal devices of Hall and other regents.
Hall is being investigated for overstepping his authority in his inquiry into UT-Austin President Bill Powers. Hall has put in requests for almost 800,000 pages of documents from UT as he looks into charges that there is a pattern of favoritism in admissions at UT-Austin, as well as mismanagement of funds under Powers watch at the UT Law School.
Now Martinez Fischer says he is worried that regents have not been forthcoming with all of their information and might be doing regent business on personal devices.
"This committee has information that sheds doubt as to whether or not all regents are following the law by producing every document in their possession," Martinez Fischer wrote in the letter to Hardin. "In short, this committee must be assured that every document responsive to our inquiry is produced. Therefore, we must consider forensic examination of the personal or professional electronic communications of the regents in order to ensure compliance with the law."
Martinez Fischer also wants Hardin to look into the UT-Systems assertion of attorney-client privilege when its former general counsel, Barry Burgdorf, who resigned under pressure in 2013, testified before the committee in October. Martinez Fischer believes that the privilege does not exist when someone is compelled to testify before the legislature.
The official investigation into the possible impeachment of Regent Hall began last month. Aside from being accused of overstepping his authority in his investigation into President Powers, Hall has also been accused of misrepresenting his record on his application to be a regent, as well as mishandling private information about students. The next round of hearings is currently scheduled for Nov. 12 and 13.