Gov. Perry backs Regent Hall as transparency committee discusses articles of impeachment


Charlie Pearce

UT System Regent Wallace Hall prepares to leave after a UT System Board of Regents meeting on April 29.

While a state legislative committee discussed drafting articles of impeachment against UT System Regent Wallace Hall in exectuive session, Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement in support of Hall .

The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has been investigating Hall since June 2013 for potentially overstepping his authority as a regent. State legislators have accused Hall conducting a “witch hunt” to remove President William Powers Jr. from his position through large records requests.

Perry said Hall’s actions are beneficial to the System and the state of Texas.

"Wallace Hall should be commended for his persistence — in the face of overwhelming opposition from bureaucrats — in trying to ensure the institutions of higher education under his purview are operating effectively, efficiently and within the law,” Perry said in a statement. “Hall is doing exactly what every regent and every appointee in the State of Texas should be doing: asking tough questions, gathering facts and searching for the truth.”

If the transparency committee votes on specific articles, Hall’s case will go to the full Texas House of Representatives. If a majority of the members of the House approve of the case’s merits, it will go to the Senate, where members will convene as a court to make a final decision.

“Today we will begin formally drafting potential articles of impeachment for the committee’s future consideration,” state Rep. Carol Alvarado D-Houston and committee co-chair, said. “This is an extensive process.”

Before going into executive session, the committee heard testimony from House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel and Jeff Archer, interim assistant executive director of the Texas Legislative Council. Griesel and Archer discussed procedures for impeachment.

“There are no rules for what an article of impeachment has to look like,” Archer said.

If the Senate ultimately approves Hall’s impeachment, Hall would be the first non-elected official to be impeached in Texas history.

During the meeting, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, asked Barry McBee, UT System vice chancellor for government relations, to provide a written response detailing what level of criminal investigation or charges would prompt members of the Board of Regents to determine Hall unfit to serve.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit has opened an investigation into allegations produced in the report published by the special counsel to the transparency committee that Hall violated privacy laws in distributing private student information.