Republican State Rep. Brian Harrison of Midlothian is asking Texas State Auditor Lisa Collier to determine whether taxpayer dollars are being used for a $1 million settlement with Kathleen McElroy, a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) proponent who voluntarily terminated her employment negotiations with Texas A&M.
If the audit finds that taxpayer money is being used, Harrison has also requested that Collier investigate to determine the “propriety of this planned payment.”
“On behalf of my constituents, and to ensure their tax dollars are not wasted, I am writing to formally request that your office perform an audit to determine if any tax dollars will be used to fund the settlement payment, and if so, conduct an investigation into the propriety of this planned payment,” Harrison wrote to Collier.
Texas A&M faced public criticism for offering McElroy the position of director of journalism. McElroy, currently a tenured professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has a background in promoting DEI policies.
Subsequently, Texas A&M watered down McElroy’s proposed contract, ultimately settling on a one-year deal as a professor without tenure and a three-year appointment as the director of the journalism program, with an emphasis that she could be terminated at any time.
McElroy ultimately rejected A&M’s final offer, but the Texas A&M Board of Regents authorized university officials to pursue a settlement with McElroy and ordered the system’s general counsel to investigate the situation. Their report found “multiple mistakes had been made in McElroy’s hiring process.” As a result, the university announced that McElroy would receive a $1 million payout.
Harrison has also sent a letter to Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, demanding that A&M rescind the $1 million payout offer to McElroy.
“Paying Dr. McElroy one-million-dollars will likely do severe reputational harm to Texas A&M University and set a dangerous precedent that could perhaps have national and long-standing implications,” Harrison wrote. “I am writing to formally and respectfully request that you either stop this one-million-dollar payment until an investigation into the propriety of the settlement agreement can be conducted or to take all actions necessary to ensure that only local funds from private sources – not state appropriated funds from taxpayers – will be used to fund the settlement.”
TAMU responded to Harrison’s post on X, stating, “This settlement will not be funded with any donor funds, any funds from the state or federal government, or any funds from our students. Any suggestion of improper use of funds is just incorrect.”
While others have asked about the various funds the university could be referring to, TAMU has not commented further. Texas Scorecard contacted Texas A&M to request a comment, but no response was received.
Texas A&M is overseen by a board of regents that is appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott and approved by the Texas Senate.
McElroy is scheduled to receive the $1 million payment on or before August 14, according to Harrison.