AUSTIN, Texas ― University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall’s attorney has told state lawmakers that Hall is willing to answer questions at his next impeachment hearing, but wants to be subpoenaed to testify under oath.
Members of the House Select Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee said last week they want to hear from Hall, who has been accused of misusing his position to try to force out Austin campus President Bill Powers.
Hall attorney Allan Van Fleet sent a letter to committee attorney Rusty Hardin saying Hall is ready to testify and outlining the subpoena demand for the next hearings scheduled for Nov. 12-13.
“He is ready to tell his side of the story,” Van Fleet said Tuesday without elaborating.
A subpoena could give Hall some legal protection if he’s asked to divulge confidential information.
Hardin and committee co-chairs Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, and Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, did not immediately return telephone messages Tuesday.
Hall is part of a nine-member governing board that repeatedly has clashed with Powers over issues such as tuition and graduation rates, the roles of teaching and research, and other issues.
Powers is believed to have a slim majority of support on the board, and the power struggle has led prominent alumni to rally in his support. Last week, Powers was named chairman of the Association of American Universities.
The committee is investigating several allegations against Hall, including whether he withheld information on his application for appointment, abused open records laws with requests for more than 800,000 pages of documents and released private student or employee information.
The panel can also determine if Hall’s actions amounted to malfeasance or misuse of his office. If it recommends impeachment, the matter goes to the full House and Hall could ultimately be removed from office.
The committee issued subpoenas to several witnesses last week, including two University of Texas administrators and former system general counsel Barry Burgdorf.
Burgdorf testified he believed Hall showed “a clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers.” Burgdorf also said he could not answer some questions from lawmakers without violating attorney-client privilege because of his previous work for the university system.
Van Fleet has said Hall raised important questions about political influence over university admissions, fundraising and the law school loan program and denies Hall released any legally protected information to the public.
Van Fleet also has complained that he’s not allowed to cross-examine witnesses and has questioned whether Hall can get an impartial hearing.