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House Select Committee Votes To Impeach UT Regent Hall

Marsha Miller
University of Texas

For the first time in Texas history, state lawmakers have voted to impeach a state official that was appointed by the governor.

On a vote of 7-1, the Texas House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations voted to impeach UT Regent Wallace Hall. State Rep. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, was the only vote against impeachment.

Update (2:45 p.m.):  “I’m afraid of the chilling effect that Regent Hall's conduct will have on university presidents and administrations both in and outside the University of Texas systems if his behavior remains unchecked,” said committee Co-Chair state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston.

Alvarado said she doesn't fault Hall for having the agenda of attempting to get rid of Powers, but said she does fault him for his means to accomplish it.  She believed Hall failed his duties as a regent and possibly violated the Texas Education Code, Penal Code and Texas Public Information Act. 

Others like state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, felt that Gov. Rick Perry should ask for Hall’s resignation.

“But I believe that he has some of the responsibility for a lot of this that has transpired over the past two year," Larson said. "I think the Travis County district attorney's office, they’ll either investigate this or not, but if the UT System doesn’t step in or the governor’s office doesn’t step in then it’s incumbent upon this committee to step forward and do what I think is in the best interest in the State of Texas."

Original post: Ahead of the final committee vote, state lawmakers scolded Hall for his behavior and then went into an executive session behind closed doors. It took the committee nine months to get to a final vote on whether Hall will go down in history as the first state appointee to impeached.

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, who co-chairs the committee, said it shouldn't have taken that long to get to this final vote.

“I feel this could’ve all been avoided if all parties could’ve worked together from the beginning," Flynn said. "I’m sure our decisions will impact the way Texas regents govern their perspective universities in the future."

Speaker of the House Joe Strauss asked the committee to investigate Hall’s activities after he was alerted of Hall’s search for evidence against UT President Bill Powers, a search that involved thousands of documents containing the personal and private information of students and faculty.

Flynn said the committee will consider three options: a recommendation for impeachment, holding Hall in obeisance, or no action.

Prior to this week's meeting, Flynn, as well as two other committee members, wrote a letter to the other members saying that Hall’s actions were inappropriate but he didn’t see a need for removal from office.

Before going into executive session, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, urged the committee to present a united front:

“That this committee is bigger than any institution, that this committee is bigger than any individual and we demonstrated our ability to work through these issues," Martinez Fischer said.