After voting two months ago to begin crafting articles of impeachment against a whistle-blowing state official, members of the Orwellian-named House Select Committee on Government Transparency in State Agency Operations have gone into political survival mode, suddenly looking for face-saving exits. In a hearing yesterday, legislators were clearly worried that the corruption they have been covering up is about to explode in their faces.
House Speaker Joe Straus handpicked the committee and its co-chairs, Republican Dan Flynn and Democrat Carol Alvarado, then gave them the task of discrediting University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall. Straus’ allies – ranging from disgraced State Rep. Jim Pitts to defeated Attorney General candidate Dan Branch – were troubled that Hall was asking pesky questions about legislative clout abuse in the admissions process. Worst of all, he was apparently getting answers.
Flynn, Alvarado and their gang attacked Hall with fervor, while denying him the opportunity to defend his name and discuss the results of his investigations.
But a funny thing has happened. Independent investigations by Watchdog.org discovered abuse by Straus and his top lieutenants (including the aforementioned Branch and Pitts), while a cursory review by the UT System also uncovered problems. The president of UT has been forced to resign, allegedly after university employees stepped forward with claims he misled investigators during that review. And a full-on investigation has been ordered into the admissions scandal.
Despite the best efforts of Straus, Flynn and Alvarado, the truth is getting out.
Only one member of the committee voted against initiating impeachment, State Rep. Charles Perry of Lubbock. Now other committee members no doubt wish they had followed his lead, instead of doing the bidding of Flynn and Straus.
Remember, it was Dan Flynn who – week before that vote – wrote there were no grounds to impeach Hall. Then, perhaps after getting a what-for call from the Straus Team, proceed to vote for impeachment. It was enough to give an observer whiplash.
Yesterday saw Flynn flop again, this time saying the committee was going to consider all sorts of options. One committee member suggested that they propose rules for how regents should conduct their business.
That sounds like a good idea. Maybe they should use Wallace Hall’s actions as the template for how to be a good regent.
Of course, no one on the committee wants to lose face, so none of them dared apologize to Hall. Yet. That will come soon enough.