House panel to vote in May on Hall impeachment

FILE - In this July 10, 2013, file photo, Regent Wallace Hall, of Dallas, takes part in a University of Texas Regents meeting in Austin, Texas. Hall, who is facing a rare threat of impeachment won't testify as expected this week to a House committee investigating his actions, lawmakers said Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

AUSTIN (AP) — After months of investigating University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall’s efforts to get the Austin flagship campus’ president fired, a House panel scheduled a May 12 vote on whether it will recommend his possible removal.

The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations met privately for nearly three hours Thursday to discuss an investigator’s report that alleges Hall may have violated state and federal student privacy laws while engaging in a two-year effort to oust University of Texas President Bill Powers.

The investigation’s report also has been turned over to local Travis County prosecutors for review.

Panel co-chair Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, announced next month’s vote on whether to recommend to the full House that Hall should face impeachment, starting a process that could ultimately lead to Hall’s removal from office. If the full House votes for impeachment, the matter would go to the Senate for a trial.

Neither Alvarado nor co-chair Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, would describe the closed-door discussions or indicate whether members were inclined to support articles of impeachment. Alvarado and Flynn said the committee also could consider some lesser punishment for Hall, but gave no specifics.

Hall, a Dallas businessman, was appointed to the Texas Board of Regents by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011. Since then, Hall has led an effort by some regents to force the removal of Powers, who has clashed with Perry and some board members over tuition rates, the roles of research and teaching and other issues.

Powers has enjoyed broad support from the state Senate as well as prominent alumni, faculty and students.

The House panel was charged in 2013 to investigate whether Hall abused open records laws with requests for more than 800,000 pages of documents and released private student or employee information. The panel was also charged with finding if Hall’s actions amounted to malfeasance or misuse of his office.

Hall did not testify before the committee.

Hall’s lawyer has said his client’s efforts raised important questions about political influence over university admissions, fundraising and a law school loan program, and denies Hall released any legally protected information to the public.

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