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Patrick’s win may doom Hall impeachment effort

By   /   May 28, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 20 of 72 in the series Trouble in Texas

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org

HOUSTON – State Sen. Dan Patrick’s win over incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican primary runoff Tuesday likely means the eventual end of a yearlong effort to impeach Wallace Hall, the regent of the University of Texas System whose investigation of political influence in the admissions process had threatened several top lawmakers.

AP photo

BIG WINNER: After trouncing incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a primary runoff Tuesday, state Sen. Dan Patrick is the favorite to win office in November.

In a debate May 20, Patrick called for an investigation into admissions favoritism at the University of Texas School of Law, calling it “a potential huge scandal in the making,” one “that can bring down the whole law school.”

While Gov. Rick Perry has defended Hall, saying last week that “Texans should be outraged by his treatment,” Patrick became the first high-ranking official to demand an investigation into the university’s practices. Most politicians who’ve gotten involved have taken the other side, blaming Hall for stirring up trouble.

As no Democrat has won statewide office in 20 years, Patrick is now the heavy favorite over Democratic nominee Leticia Van De Putte to be the next lieutenant governor of Texas. As lieutenant governor and presiding officer of the state Senate, Patrick would wield a great deal of control over any articles of impeachment against Hall sent over by the House.

The effect of Patrick’s statement was immediate. The next day, a legislative committee that had met to draft articles of impeachment against Hall failed to do so. Several members of the committee were quoted saying that it would take a while. Others expressed hope that the Travis County District Attorney would, basically, take the case off their hands.

“It’s a real lengthy process,” said committee co-chair Carol Alvarado. “We’re looking at a couple of months.”

The committee’s lawyers have already settled on four accusations against Hall that they consider somewhat plausible, though the committee’s other chair, Rep. Dan Flynn, has already rejected all four of those accusations.

Few insiders ever thought it made much political sense for Speaker Joe Straus to call a special session for the purpose of impeaching Hall, calling members away from their campaigns and jobs and costing himself political capital when he should be storing it up. Now, impeachment would be dead on arrival in the Senate at best, and at worst, it would flip into an investigation of corruption at UT.

The committee now needs some face-saving way to wrap up its work, or failing that, to let it fizzle out. They still have a majority of UT’s Board of Regents on their side, opposed to digging any further into the piles of evidence of admissions favoritism that have been uncovered recently.

Patrick’s win is significant because the state Constitution allows the Senate to write its own rules. The current rules give the lieutenant governor total control over parliamentary questions and procedural rules.

Even though the laws governing impeachment procedures include plenty of “shalls” that would be binding on Patrick, he could still stop the process. For example, he has the power to schedule the impeachment at some distant date, “or adjourn during the impeachment trial” and “condition reconvening on the occurrence of an event specified in the motion.”

Contact Jon Cassidy at [email protected] or @jpcassidy000. If you would like to send him documents or messages anonymously, download the Tor browser and go to our SecureDrop submission page: http://5bygo7e2rpnrh5vo.onion


Part of 72 in the series Trouble in Texas
  1. Texas’ Rep. Pitts announces retirement after improper influence story
  2. University of Texas regents show support for Wallace Hall
  3. Case against UT regent Wallace Hall is a sham — here’s proof
  4. Texas senator got $477k for supposed ‘cameo’ appearance in Wallace Hall lawsuit
  5. Lawmaker admits pulling strings on UT admissions
  6. Trustee accused of crime for rejecting dodgy accounting
  7. Longhorns: Senator used clout in UT law school admissions
  8. Children of Texas lawmakers get into UT School of Law, but struggle to pass bar exam
  9. Chancellor is probing favoritism in UT admissions
  10. UT report: Charge against Hall is legally ‘absurd’
  11. Attorney in UT case hides six-figure charges despite terms of contract
  12. University of Texas clout scandal grows as new e-mails surface
  13. Four more get into UT Law despite low LSATs
  14. Reports on UT favoritism, impeachment expected soon
  15. Attorney: Secret tape covered up by lawmakers proves regent’s innocence
  16. Dozens of UT Law’s least qualified students are connected politically
  17. University of Texas uncovers admissions corruption, halts investigation
  18. UT admissions: Straus, Branch, Pitts pulled strings
  19. Who got the 128? UT Law admits students with bad LSAT scores
  20. Patrick’s win may doom Hall impeachment effort
  21. Chancellor promises complete investigation of UT admissions
  22. Board to decide UT president’s fate Thursday
  23. Texas politicians smarten up, ditch UT pres this time around
  24. Tribune story may have doomed UT’s Powers
  25. Academics condone the privilege they denounce
  26. Three essential stories on the UT admissions scandal
  27. Texas AG Greg Abbott embraces Roe v. Wade
  28. Roe v. Wade is AG’s new pretext for blocking Texas law school investigation
  29. Two UT regents pressed for records destruction
  30. New crime invented for Hall: assisted guesswork
  31. Texas lawmaker failed to disclose his own clout letter in UT flap
  32. Texas legislator Fischer insists on role in UT investigation
  33. Hutchison pulled strings for friends’ kids and grandkids at UT
  34. Ex-UT Law dean’s credit card bill: $400k in four years
  35. Abbott’s UT picks are pro-affirmative action
  36. Report: University of Texas showed favoritism to thousands
  37. Kroll ignored hundreds of weak UT applications
  38. Billionaire defends UT admissions privileges for ‘leaders’
  39. Weak admissions to University of Texas Law increased after Sager’s ouster
  40. Kroll report takes dig at Watchdog.org
  41. Hicks won’t stop UT’s backdoor admits
  42. Texas governor’s wife was on UT nominee’s payroll
  43. Bill to limit UT oversight clears committee
  44. UT regent blasts speaker for ‘abuse of office’
  45. Texas politician rebuts himself with apparently plagiarized letter
  46. Pay-to-play scandal involves UT dean, Texas Exes
  47. Supreme Court asked to look at UT’s backdoor admissions program
  48. Lawmakers want UT applications shielded from scrutiny
  49. McRaven makes UT scandal his own
  50. An open letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton on the UT cover-up
  51. Chancellor Bill McRaven’s UT cover-up has no defenders
  52. UT’s back door still open, but can’t stay secret, AG rules
  53. Whitewash: Kroll left dozens of bad LSATs out of UT report
  54. McRaven’s defense to Hall lawsuit refuted by own words
  55. Ready for the end of affirmative action?
  56. UT admissions scandal is 10 times bigger than official report
  57. McRaven trolls Dallas Morning News
  58. Powers to get top salary at UT Law
  59. UT sues to block Watchdog access to admissions investigation
  60. UT approves ‘Spinal Tap’ policy for backdoor admissions
  61. Admissions survey: No, UT, everybody doesn’t do it
  62. UT admissions scandal prompts new investigation
  63. Ticket scandal a black mark for UT, DA
  64. Showdown over UT cover-up nears end
  65. McRaven’s rationale for UT cover-up denounced by regents, AG
  66. High court to decide if University of Texas can deep-six investigation
  67. High court hears arguments on whether UT can bury investigation
  68. Testimony by UT contradicts story fed high court
  69. These ‘horns ain’t loyal, McRaven finds
  70. UT’s Hall challenges Abbott over board picks
  71. Texas Supreme Court nullifies rule of law; impunity to reign
  72. The battle for the Kroll records goes on

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Jon Cassidy was a former Houston-based reporter for Watchdog.org.