University of Texas
Nov 18th - 2:36 pm
Attorney General Greg Abbott is forcefully distancing himself from the actions of a former staff member, who announced plans to hold a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” on the University of Texas campus.
In a statement released today, Abbott called the tactic “repugnant” and compared it to protests over abortion law during the first special session.
“Our campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort. Illegal immigration and the failed policies of the Obama Administration are not a joking matter.
“Conservatives should not stoop to the level of liberals, whose shenanigans at the Texas Capitol this summer, including chants of ‘hail Satan’ during Senator Davis’ filibuster to allow abortions after five months, did nothing but sidetrack the Texas Legislature.”
The stunt was announced by Young Conservatives of Texas Chairman Lorenzo Garcia. In an event planned for Wednesday, students would “catch” anyone wearing a clothing with the words “illegal immigrant” attached to it in exchange for a $25 gift card.
The group described it as an effort to spur “campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration.”
Nov 18th - 1:54 pm
The University of Texas is joining critics of a planned ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game planned for Wednesday. The event, organized by the Young Conservatives of Texas, involves people walking on campus wearing signs that say “illegal immigrant.” Students who “catch” them win a $25 gift card.
The University has been critical of other YCT events, including an affirmative action bake sale held last month. In a statement today, UT called the tactics “inflammatory and demeaning.”
“Once again in trying to be provocative, the YCT is contributing to an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty and staff by sending the message that certain students do not belong on our campus…”
“If the members of YCT carry out their plan for “Catch an Illegal Immigrant,” they are willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture. And once again, they will have resorted to exercising one of the university’s core values to the detriment of others. Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives.”
UT Austin President Bill Powers also responded to the planned event. In a statement posted on the university’s web site, he said:
“The proposed YCT event is completely out of line with the values we espouse at The University of Texas at Austin. Our students, faculty and the entire university work hard both to promote diversity and engage in a respectful exchange of ideas. The Wednesday event does not reflect that approach or commitment.
As Americans, we should always visualize our Statue of Liberty and remember that our country was built on the strength of immigration. Our nation continues to grapple with difficult questions surrounding immigration. I ask YCT to be part of that discussion but to find more productive and respectful ways to do so that do not demean their fellow students.”
The university Staff Council voted unanimously to endorse the statement shortly after it was released.
Oct 23rd - 8:14 pm
The investigation of a University of Texas regent continued Wednesday, with damaging testimony from a former UT system employee. Just down the road, another high-profile hearing wrapped up after final arguments regarding a controversial new abortion law.
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer is part of the eight-member panel looking into UT Regent Wallace Hall. He joined us for a one-on-one interview about the committee’s fact-finding mission, voter ID law and recent controversy over his legal name.
AGGIES IN ISRAEL
Gov. Rick Perry continued his visit to Israel Wednesday, joining President Shimon Peres for a signing ceremony to formalize plans to bring a Texas A&M campus to the Middle East. Perry and the university announced plans for a Nazareth branch earlier this week. Click the logo below to watch Wednesday night’s full episode.
Oct 23rd - 2:09 pm
A state representative says last month’s controversy over a phone call to Alabama coach Nick Saban’s agent is “fair game” in the investigation of a UT regent.
Speaking to Capital Tonight’s Paul Brown, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said if University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall did set up contact with Saban’s agent while representing himself as a regent, it could become part of the hearing process.
“This inquiry is about Wallace Hall, whether it be his acts or his omissions, things he should have done and things he should not have done,” Rep. Martinez Fischer said. “And quite frankly, I believe it’s fair game and I intend to ask questions on it.”
Hall has admitted to taking part in a phone call between former regent Tom Hicks and Jimmy Sexton, who represents Saban, about whether the Alabama coach might replace UT’s Mack Brown if he retires. Hall told the Associated Press he simply made the introduction between the two, then withdrew from the process.
Rep. Martinez Fischer is part of an eight-member panel looking into Hall’s conduct as a regent. Hall is accused of using his office to oust UT President Bill Powers and of misrepresenting himself in his application for the regent position. Hall’s lawyers contend their client is being targeted for doing his job.
Oct 22nd - 8:17 pm
Meanwhile, a hearing of a different sort continued in federal court. Women’s health groups are suing the state to stop the enforcement of some provisions of a new, stricter abortion law.
Both cases tie into longstanding political battles — whether it’s abortion, the upcoming governor’s race or the power struggle over UT Austin’s leadership. Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, joined us to talk about the larger implications.
New unemployment numbers are out from the Labor Department, and while they show slight improvement, many economists worry they’re a sign of a sluggish economy. Plus, our Washington bureau checks in on impending cuts to food stamp programs.
Sep 23rd - 7:47 pm
Higher education was a major issue for lawmakers this past session, particularly for those who felt University of Texas President Bill Powers was being micromanaged by the UT Board of Regents.
In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke one-on-one with Powers himself. He talked about his goals for UT’s flagship campus, his hopes for the next legislative session and about working with the regents.
WATER FUNDING FIGHT
As one of the worst droughts in state history drags on, the state’s agriculture commissioner is urging Texans to take water conservation into their own hands. That means monitoring their water use and taking a serious look at Proposition 6. Commissioner Todd Staples, who is also running for lieutenant governor, admits neither will immediately solve the state’s water woes, but says it’s a good place to start.
The Senate is set to vote this week on a continuing resolution that would avoid a government shutdown on October 1. At issue is an attempt by some Republicans — led by Sen. Ted Cruz — to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Sep 17th - 9:21 pm
He’s been the subject of controversy since 2011, and now he’s at risk of being the first governor-appointed official to be impeached in state history.
In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke one-on-one with UT Regent Wallace Hall. Click the logo below to watch an extended interview with Hall about UT President Bill Powers, the accusations against him and the future of higher education.
The State Board of Education was back in the spotlight Tuesday, and back on the issue of science curriculum and how evolution will be taught in public schools. It’s a heated topic that dates back to 2009 when the board approved new science curriculum standards, but due to legislative changes, some say the stigma that surrounds the board is changing.
Plus, a comment from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is drawing flack from a fellow lawmaker. Our Capital Commentators weighed in on that development and more.
Aug 16th - 12:11 pm
A University of Texas regent who has come under fire from the Texas legislature is responding, via his legal counsel, with accusations of “secret favoritism” and “systemic inflation” of donations at UT.
The accusations came out in a letter sent from UT Regent Wallace Hall’s lawyers to the co-chairs of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations. The committee was formed after Hall requested thousands of pages of documents from the University of Texas. Rep. Jim Pitts has called the request a “witch hunt” and an attempt to bring down UT president Bill Powers. Pitts has also filed a resolution to impeach Regent Hall over what he calls “misrepresentation of material facts” in Hall’s application.
In the letter, Hall’s lawyers dispute Pitts’ claims and defend the information requests, saying they hope to tell the whole story during impeachment proceedings. The letter also accuses UT leadership of the following:
- Secret favoritism in compensation for male faculty through the UT Law School Foundation
- Favoritism in admissions on behalf of Texas legislators
- Systemic inflation and misreporting of donations to the university
- An overall lack of transparency
Hall is asking to be able to treat any impeachment proceedings like a court trial. He’s asking to be represented by legal counsel, for the ability to call and question witnesses and to subpoena witnesses and request documents.
Jul 29th - 3:18 pm
Impeachment hearings for University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall Jr. will begin at the State Capitol. The House Transparency Committee today voted to move forward with proceedings to determine if Hall abused his authority.
The resolution, filed by Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts, alleges Regent Hall broke state law by not revealing potential business conflicts when applying for the UT Board position. The same measure also says the regent is abusing his authority by making unnecessary open records requests, targeting UT President Bill Powers.
The hearings could begin as early as late August or early September. A witness list will include the UT Chancellor, Hall and President Bill Powers among others. A special prosecutor will be appointed by the committee as well as an investigator. There have only been two successful impeachments in Texas history.
Jun 24th - 1:19 pm
The head of the House Appropriations Committee has taken the first formal step to impeach University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall.
Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) filed a resolution today, directing the House speaker to initiate impeachment proceedings. The resolution accuses Hall of misrepresenting his “experience and qualifications” in order to get the job. In an interview with Capital Tonight, Rep. Pitts said Hall failed to inform legislators of potential business conflicts when he applied for the regent position, an offense that could potentially violate state criminal code relating to falsified government documents.
If lawmakers approve the resolution, the next step is for House Speaker Joe Straus to convene an impeachment committee, which would operate during the interim.
Pitts has accused Hall of engaging in a “witch hunt” against UT Austin president Bill Powers. Hall has requested hundreds of pages of documents related to Powers, including personal emails. In a statement released Friday, Gov. Rick Perry suggested Hall’s efforts were to reveal lawmakers’ attempts to request “admission to the UT law school on behalf of others.”
Gov. Perry appointed Hall in 2011. State law allows the House to move on certain impeachments, without the governor’s approval.