With an admissions clout-abuse scandal breaking further open, Texans should be asking what other perks and privileges lawmakers close to House Speaker Joe Straus (and those trying to ingratiate themselves to him now) have taken for themselves outside, or above, the law. The cancer of corruption tends to spread rapidly when it is allowed to fester.
When you hear your “conservative” state representative saying he just “needs to work” with Straus so he can “get things done,” you should hear it as “I want to get in on the action.”
For the last year, Straus-Republican Dan Flynn and his Democrat co-chair Carol Alvarado went on a witch hunt against University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall. Flynn and Alverado’s committee engaged in a systematic effort to discredit Mr. Hall for blowing the whistle on financial malfeasance and legislative clout-abuse.
While unable to point to any wrongdoing by Hall, the Straus co-chairs are nonetheless moving the committee forward with plans to impeach him. Indeed, Flynn wrote this spring that no grounds existed to impeach Hall, yet days later he toed the Straus line and voted to proceed with drawing up articles of impeachment!
And then an inconvenient reality got in the way this last week.
As I reported on Friday for Breitbart Texas, a UT whistleblower has apparently come forward more directly tying the legislative clout-abuse to UT’s left-leaning president, Bill Powers. It seems Hall was right all along…
Sources told me that on Thursday, Powers was given a choice: resign or be fired this coming week when the board of regents meet. The Austin American Statesman says Powers is negotiating to stay on the job another year.
That’s another year for Straus-allied legislators to abuse the admissions process for their kids, and the kids of high-dollar donors.
(That a whistleblower has come forward might be really bad news for Straus’ pal Dan Branch, the outgoing State Rep. who failed miserably in his bid to be attorney general, in a year of bad news. Branch has chaired the House’s Higher Education Committee yet managed to look the other way as various scandals at UT erupted over the last two years. Might we soon learn definitively that Branch was not so much incompetent as complicit? He has already been caught lying about his role in seeking admissions favors.)
Flynn, Alvarado, and their committee—with the notable exception of State Rep. Charles Perry of Lubbock—have engaged in ignoble theater, with their attacks on Wallace Hall providing cover for the apparent shenanigans of Powers and others. The distracting circus of the patently inappropriate impeachment investigation against Hall has allowed legislative clout-abuse in higher-ed admissions to be ignored.
The Texas Tribune – which is a business partner with UT in polling and receives corporate sponsorship from the Austin campus Powers oversees – reported this weekend that the Flynn-Alvarado committee is set to remind UT regents of a “directive” that no one be fired while they continue to persecute Hall.
Yet I cannot find any constitutional or statutory authority for Flynn, Alverado or their committee to issue any such directives—no matter how much corruption someone is trying to conceal!
All this makes me wonder: If Team Straus is going to such lengths to protect their clout-for-admissions scam at UT, what other—more lucrative—deals have they hatched for themselves at the expense of taxpayers?
We know, for example, that the Straus Team went to great lengths to prevent legislation from being enacted that would require lawmakers to disclose the contracts and business they have with agencies of government.
The cancer of corruption in higher education is finally being exposed, at least in part. Our assumption must be that it has metastasized elsewhere. As citizens, if legislators won’t do it themselves it is our responsibility is to remove that corruption out with an electoral scalpel.