Wallace Hall impeachment investigation heats up

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

The House investigation into whether UT-Austin Regent Wallace Hall should be impeached will pick up steam over the next three months.

For the first time in almost 40 years, the Texas House is looking into the possible impeachment of a public official. The House Select committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations is going to decide if articles of impeachment should be brought against UT-Austin Regent Wallace Hall.

At the heart of the investigation is the allegation that Hall has been conducting a personal vendetta against UT President William Powers while also conducting massive records searches of various legislators.

The House committee is co-chaired by Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, and Carol Alvarado, D-Houston. They have retained the services of uber-lawyer Rusty Hardin as a special counsel.

The process will be a lengthy one, and it may be complicated by a wild card entry - the recent story of Hall and others looking into the availability of Nick Saban as the future coach of the Texas Longhorns.

Right now the committee is charged into looking into whether Hall withheld information on his application to be a regent; whether he mishandled sensitive student information and if he exceeded his authority with his personal investigation of UT-Austin President Powers.

Hall admits to participating in contacting Saban's agent to see if he might be interested in the Texas job should Mack Brown retire. UT President Powers was not made aware of the contact - a clear violation of University System rules that state all personnel decisions are handled by the president of an institution.

As for the reasons behind Hall's willingness to leak the information about the call - 8 months after the fact - they are varied. Some believe he is trying to curry favor with the "change" crowd, who want Mack Brown gone, others believe he is continuing his effort to paint Powers as an ineffective leader.

There is no indication that the committee would expand its investigation into Hall by adding this event at this time.

Again, this is an investigation to see if articles of impeachment should be drawn up against Hall.

  • The process will drag on for a while. The committee has scheduled six meetings between now and the end of the year.

  • At this stage, Hall's lawyer will not have the ability to cross-examine witnesses. The committee considers this the "Grand Jury" phase of the investigation and that should there be further proceedings, Hall would have a chance for unlimited cross-examination.
  • If articles of impeachment are recommended, and at least 50 members of the House request a vote, then the full House will be called back where they could vote of yes or no, or even ask for more testimony.
  • Should the House vote in favor of impeachment, then the Senate would convene as a court to hear the case.
No matter what, the scheduled hearings should at least offer some distraction from whatever unfolds on the field.

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