Yesterday, at a University of Texas Regents meeting, Regent Alex Cranberg compared legislative and media efforts to remove Regent Wallace Hall to a “lynch mob.” This is a completely accurate portrayal of the campaign to destroy Hall’s good name. Despite the claims of those threatened by Hall’s investigations, all regents acknowledge that Mr. Hall has not violated the law nor has he violated any regents rule or policy. Likewise, even some of his critics are quick to acknowledge that Mr. Hall’s efforts have been well motivated, have involved “very valid concerns,” and have lead in several cases to needed policy changes at the University.

The entire episode prompted Regent Bobby Stillwell, who has widely been viewed as a critic of Hall’s investigations, to evaluate his own role as a regent. “Shame on me, I’ve been a lazy regent,” commented Stillwell. He pledged to be more diligent in his supervision of the UT System.

All of the regents acknowledged that the repeated attacks on Mr. Hall are a tremendous distraction to the business of the University of Texas System. For some regents, this distraction is enough to justify Mr. Hall resigning. Yesterday, UT Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster called such an act “selfless.”

Mr. Foster may be well meaning in his analysis of the situation, but he is wrong. To give in to false attacks and accusations would embolden the accusers to continue their pattern of abuse. Such a move would be a surrender of principle in return for some temporary peace. That is always a mistake.

Regent Cranberg was correct when he noted that the campaign against Hall has taken on the “tenor of a lynchmob.” Cranberg added that, like all lynchmobs, the campaign against Regent Hall involves “a large number of very reasonable people who are operating on the basis of partial or incorrect information” and that they are being “carried along by those egging on the crowd.”

Mr. Cranberg concluded that it would not be prudent to ask Regent Hall to resign and that he did not think that the board “should go down in history as participating in this highly politicized and inappropriate impeachment effort.”

If Wallace Hall were fighting these impeachment efforts because of pride, or because of his desire to remain a regent, then it would certainly be “selfless” to resign and save himself and his colleagues a great deal of time and turmoil.

However, he isn’t fighting this battle for the sake of himself. He is fighting for the ability of every appointee to fulfill their duty to hold government accountable to the people, and not to allow it to be used as a play-thing for those in power. He is fighting for transparency and for accountability in government. He is fighting for every person who comes after him who has the courage to ask tough questions and demand they be answered.

We hope that Mr. Hall will stand strong and not succumb to the “lynch mob.” Surrendering control of our government to those who would abuse their power simply is not an option.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.

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