The WSJ editorializes an impeachment proceeding brought against Wallace Hall, who dug a little too deep when he learned that the University of Texas Law School was offering certain professors forgivable loans, from non-law school funds.
Mr. Hall was learning his responsibilities when he came across information showing that some professors received forgivable loans from a law school foundation fund not affiliated with the school.
The payments from the foundation struck Mr. Hall as problematic because they were off the books and created potential inequities in compensation not subject to transparency and oversight—issues that can quickly become fodder for lawsuits for, say, gender discrimination. But when he sought documents to investigate, he says he faced resistance from University President Bill Powers’s staff.
In October 2012, in pursuit of more information on the law school payments, Mr. Hall asked to see university documents that had already been produced in previous public information requests. Among the documents was correspondence between lawmakers and university admissions officials showing a pattern of preferential admissions treatment for friends and family of politicians in both parties.
Within weeks Mr. Hall became the target of a political campaign to impeach him as a regent. In June 2013 lawmakers directed a “transparency” committee to look into whether Mr. Hall had “abused” his authority. The committee claimed that Mr. Hall had demanded 800,000 pages of documents and made 1,200 public information requests, a process that it said cost UT $1 million.
Those numbers have been debunked. In a letter to the committee in February, UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa confirmed that Mr. Hall had made only five public information requests that totalled around 3,000 pages. His other information came from seeing documents that others had already requested.