When Leading Isn't Popular - Texas Scorecard

Although countless members of the legislature have appropriately defended Gov. Perry’s exercising of his constitutional authority to veto funding for a discredited agency, few have been willing to defend embattled UT Regent, Wallace Hall, for fulfilling his fiduciary responsibilities on behalf of taxpayers.

Perhaps the apathy has to do with the fact that University Regents are relatively obscure, at least when compared to a popular Governor who’s rumored to make a bid for the 2016 Presidential GOP nomination.

Perry was one of the first to defend Hall’s uncovering of evidence that led to suspicion of wrongdoing at the University, which has also implicated prominent legislators (several fellow Republicans), including House Speaker, Joe Straus and his allies.

An independent investigation by Watchdog.org confirmed the allegations of clout abuse in UT Law admissions involving the same legislators.

The two-year witch-hunt by the ‘transparency committee’ to intimidate Hall into submission and cover-up the scandals resulted in voting on grounds for impeachment earlier this year, and culminated with Hall’s censure last week.  The only committee member to vote against either the impeachment grounds or censure was Rep. Charles Perry (HD 83), who recently announced his candidacy for SD 28.

It’s rumored that, despite expressly private concern, few legislators have publicly defended Hall’s efforts, admonished the actions of the rogue committee and called for an investigation to uncover the truth.

Rep. Scott Turner (HD 33), who’s declared his candidacy for House Speaker, recently released the following statement.

I am disappointed by the decision of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations to censure University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall. Recently, Regent Hall openly questioned admission practices at the University; specifically, alleging favoritism was shown to students with direct connections to powerful members of the Texas House regardless of their eligibility. Favoritism in state funded university admissions is unethical and corrupt, and any evidence of such practices should be investigated fully by a university regent, as it is their job to oversee the university system. In my opinion, Regent Hall was simply executing his duties and should be supported in his efforts, rather than be censured and submitted to continuing impeachment proceedings which have already cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Rep. David Simpson (HD 7), Rep. Jonathan Sitckland (HD 92), Rep. Matt Krause (HD 93, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (HD 98) and Republican nominee Matt Rinaldi (HD 115), have also issued public statements opposing the impeachment efforts and admonishing the committee.

Even departing State Senator John Carona (SD16) publicly opposed Hall’s impeachment and called for UT admissions reform.

The attack on Hall has more serious implications than the left-wing attack on Perry (which even David Axelrod has called “sketchy”), considering it involves a cover-up by leaders in the state’s dominant party that is poised to control every state-level office.

To quote the Governor, “Texans should be outraged by his [Hall’s] treatment,” Perry said, “and deeply concerned it will have a chilling effect on those who are tasked with the oversight of state agencies and institutions that they are responsible for.”

Yesterday, the Texas Ethic’s Commission, ironically referred to as the ‘transparency committee’, declared that the Texas Open Meetings Act applies to every state agency … except them.

A troubling trend of corruption by political leadership charged with government oversight is making it abundantly clear that their political self-interest will be jealously guarded at the expense of liberty … and by any means necessary.

But don’t take my word for it. A recent Forbes article aptly called House Speaker Joe Straus the “Harry Reid of Texas”.

When will legislators wake up?