The swirling argument among various state entities over education reform at the collegiate level took another twist this week when UT-Austin cancelled the open records request of UT System Regent Wallace Hall.
Hall, himself facing possible impeachment proceeding through the Texas Legislature, was informed by Kevin Hegarty, the chief financial officer of UT-Austin that all all pending records requests from the regent were "cancelled, effective immediately."
Hall has been seen as the leader of the faction on the UT Board of Regents that is gunning for UT-Austin President William Powers. He had turned in a massive records request with UT-Austin, which helped to further strain the situation between the UT-System, the legislature and UT-Austin.
Hegarty specifically was upset over the handling of documents that had previously been turned over to Hall.
"As you have been made aware both verbally and in writing, I remain deeply concerned that prior TPIA document files sent to the System were returned to the campus having been altered while in UT System possession," Hegarty wrote in the letter. "Further, the document files that were returned to campus were not kept in the original order as transmitted to the UT System; rather, some seem to have been tossed back into the boxes at random."
The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations is considering whether or not to file articles of impeachment against Hall. The committee has also requested all documents relating to Hall, including his records requests, be preserved until the committee finishes its investigation.
Hall could refile his records request and begin the process all over.
Meanwhile, Empower Texas board member Jeff Sandefer - who is at the heart of the struggle over proposed reforms at State Universities - has filed his own open records request, regarding a specific legislator.
Sandefer wanted to take a look at the business dealings of state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who has been an opponent of the proposed reforms.
Sandefer wanted to look at any connections between Zaffirini's communications consulting company and any individuals or companies with political ties. Sandefer has stated that he wants to make sure that University officials are not giving preferential treatment to applicants with ties to donors or politicians when admitting students.
In June Sandefer was notified that the state Senate does not maintain the documents he was looking for.Zaffirini responded that Sandefer should know that the Senate does not keep those documents "and it's rather sad," she added, "that he would go after somebody's family. In fact, it's beyond sad. It's outrageous."