A Texas House panel investigating University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall heard its first round of testimony today in Austin. The investigation could lead to the first impeachment of a nonelected official in state history.
Some state lawmakers have accused Hall of misusing the authority of his office in an effort to force out UT Austin President Bill Powers.
State Rep. Jim Pitts, a Waxahachie Republican who brought impeachment charges against Hall, was the first witness before the Select Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee. He renewed his claims that Hall was engaged in a "witch hunt" against Powers that hurt the university's reputation.
The panel also issued subpoenas for testimony from several University of Texas System and campus administrators about their dealings with Hall.
The committee is scheduled to meet today and Wednesday.
Pitts said Tuesday that because of Hall's narrow focus on the flagship, which the regent has requested significant amounts of information from, allegedly at a significant cost of time and money to the university's staff, he should be impeached. "It’s not the volume," Pitts said, "but it is what’s behind all this. It’s a fishing expedition at the very least. It is an intent to go on a witch hunt, to try to find the information to hurt the University of Texas president or to hurt members of this Legislature."