Allan Van Fleet

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Update (May 20, 12:32 p.m.): In the letter, released on Tuesday by attorney Allan Van Fleet, Hall crticized Chairman Paul Foster's handling of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations investigation and the decision to ask for his resignation.

"The result is that you have used your position to participate in a campaign that is intended to impugn my reputation," Hall said.  "You have also allowed a small group of legislators to interfere in the Board's official opperations."

Citing letters sent to the transparency committee by System outside counsel Phillip Hilder and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in early 2014, Hall said the committee has found no evidence of wrongdoing on his part. A report released in April by Rusty Hardin, special counsel to the transparency committee, determine Hall had likely committed impeachable offenses.

After Tuesday's UT System Board of Regents meeting, Foster said he read the letter and will not pursue the issue any further.

"I pledge to work closely with him, as I have in the past," Foster said. "As far as I'm concerned, that's history."

Original story (May 19): UT System Regent Wallace Hall said he will not resign in a letter to Paul Foster, Board of Regents chairman, according to Hall’s attorney Allan Van Fleet.

Foster publicly asked Hall to resign at a regents meeting on Thursday. A few days before on May 12, the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations determined grounds for Hall’s impeachment exist in a 7-1 vote. The committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday and Thursday to develop specific articles of impeachment.

In a statement, Hall said he has been working to point out wrongdoing at System's institutions.

"Will the public ever know the truth about problems in our institutions if legislators are allowed to impeach Board members who reveal them?" Hall said.

The committee began investigating Hall in June 2013 after state legislators accused him of overstepping his authority as a regent and seeking the removal of President William Powers Jr. from his position.

According to System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, Foster has not yet received the letter. The regents are schedule to meet via teleconference on Tuesday.

The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations met Tuesday to hear testimony on the possible impeachment of Regent Wallace Hall.

The committee is considering impeaching Hall because — among other reasons — he has filed multiple broad open records requests with the University, supposedly placing a burden on the University and requiring the University to hire more people to deal with the large capacity of requests. Some Texas legislators have called Hall’s requests a “witch hunt” with the goal of removing UT President William Powers Jr. On Aug. 15, Hall’s lawyers sent a letter to the co-chairs of the committee, defending Hall’s actions and claiming Texas lawmakers had unduly influenced UT student admissions.

On Tuesday, members of the committee questioned Kevin Hegarty, UT vice president and chief financial officer, along with open records coordinator Carol Longoria.

Hegarty said prior to Oct. 5, 2012, the open records office employed one full-time person and one part-time person, but Hall’s requests increased the office’s workload so much it had to hire more employees.

“Now, on any given day, we could have as many as seven people,” Hegarty said. “We have three [who] dedicated 100 percent of their time, and I might say we never had an attorney in the group, and now we need [one]. Attorneys are more expensive than other folks.”

Hegarty said the open records office was not able to keep up with Hall’s requests because he sent simultaneous requests and gave the office very short time periods to send the information.

“It wasn’t fast enough for the board, and I was told continually it’s not fast enough for Regent Hall,” Hegarty said.

Longoria said she and her colleagues frequently worked late into the night to meet Hall’s deadlines, often until 10:30 or 11 p.m.

Hall’s attorney, Allan Van Fleet, said Hall filed some open records requests as a citizen instead of as a regent because doing so allows him to receive information sooner. He did not request protected information, Van Fleet said.

“He was specifically saying, ‘Not interested, do not want FERPA information, do not want HIPAA information,’” Van Fleet said. “As he got more and further advice from the counsel, he would say, ‘Also not Social Security, also not income tax records.’ He was upfront in saying he didn’t want that stuff.”

Van Fleet said Hall never improperly distributed records.

Longoria said the system made her feel like she was not allowed to consult the Attorney General or any other legal counsel, Longoria said.

“I was very concerned that I was being unwittingly asked to do something potentially illegal, and I didn’t want to be a party to that,” Longoria said.

The committee will continue its meeting Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Moving forward with its investigation into UT System Regent Wallace Hall, the House Select Committee on Transparency in Stage Agency Operations decided Hall’s attorneys would not be allowed to cross-examine witnesses during the upcoming hearings.

The decision, which came after the committee spent more than 1.5 hours in executive session at its meeting on Monday, was based on advice from special counsel Rusty Hardin. Hardin, who was hired by the committee in late August, explained that no cross-examination should take place since the committee is not trying Hall.

“We intend to make this as absolutely fair as we can to Mr. Hall,” Hardin said. “This is an investigation, not a trial. Our investigation may determine that nothing is to happen after this.”

If the committee decides to proceed with impeachment after the hearings process, articles of impeachment would be presented by Hardin to the Texas House of Representatives. If a majority in the House votes in favor of charging Hall with impeachment, the Senate would conduct a trial in which Hall’s attorneys would be allowed to cross-examine witnesses. A two-thirds vote in the Senate would be required to remove Hall.

At the meeting, Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton and committee co-chairman, said the committee would be investigating whether Hall left off several state and federal lawsuits on his original application for the regent position, disclosed sensitive student information to the public and overstepped his authority as a regent. The committee began investigating Hall in July after he began filing massive open records requests to the University and state legislators accused him of working with his fellow regents to oust President William Powers Jr.

Allan Van Fleet, one of Hall’s attorneys, criticized the committee’s decision and the way it handled the meeting.

“Today, we heard the committee spend 10 minutes of platitude on transparency and spend two hours in secrecy,” Van Fleet said. “It’s important that the full story come out, not just the limited amount Mr. Hardin may decide is relevant.”

After the meeting, Van Fleet defended his client against the accusations that the committee will investigate, and said Hall’s massive open records requests were not part of a larger plan to get Powers fired.

“[Hall] is not after President Powers,” Van Fleet said. “What he is after is a UT System that is fully transparent [and] that is open to people of Texas. Along the way, if there be legislators, if there be other officers in UT who should have done their job as good as Wallace Hall has been doing his, then the chips will fall as they are.”

Flynn added that the committee would keep its investigation focused on Hall for the time being, though Hall’s attorneys have indicated that they feel the focus should be on documents Hall has obtained from the University.

“We are not investigating the University of Texas at this time,” Flynn said. “However any information that does come out by the committee, it will be disclosed in the spirit of the transparency of this committee.”

If impeached, Hall would be the first executive appointee in the state’s history and third official overall to be removed from office. Hardin noted that cross-examination was allowed in 1917 during the investigation into Gov. James Ferguson, but not in the investigation into Judge O. P. Carillo in 1975.