From EmpowerTexans.com, by Michael Quinn Sullivan, June 23, 2013 –
QUOTING… “Where law ends, tyranny begins. Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.” — William Pitt
By asking pesky questions about possible corruption and influence peddling at the state’s flagship public university, a UT regent is being threatened with impeachment by senior legislators. This is a clear abuse of power by the legislative appointees of House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Predictably, the liberal media is cheering on the moderate GOP chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Jim Pitts of Waxahachie, who is trying to keep a tight veil over the possible misdeeds at the University of Texas.
Why would powerful legislators try to stop an investigation that could reach into the highest levels of Texas politics and business? Why, indeed…
The very real possibility that some legislators and wealthy donors have used their money and influence to get children and their friends’ children into UT or one of its graduate schools should be taken seriously. And especially when senior legislators are actively trying to silence an investigation!
For example, we know that various individuals associated with UT’s law school – including current university president Bill Powers – have been involved in a forgivable-loan/deferred-compensation scheme that was kept secret for years.
Instead of helping the regents uncover problems, Rep. Pitts told the press this week he wants to impeach anyone who has the audicity to question the status quo. (No wonder, since Jim Pitts has also stood four-square against budget reforms and taxpayer-protections.)
One has to wonder precisely what these legislators are trying to hide? How many of Rep. Pitts’ donors’ kids has he pulled strings to get into UT despite their lack of qualifications? How many qualified students has Mr. Pitts displaced through influence peddling?
Or what about State Sen. Kel Seliger (“R”-Amarillo), chairman of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee? He spent the legislative session expressing disdain (or worse) for any university regent who is more than rubber stamps for academic bureaucrats and legislative enablers?
So far, Speaker Straus and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst are allowing their appointees – Pitts and Seliger, respectively – to build a legislative stonewall around the ivory tower of higher education. They have it in their power to stop Seliger and Pitts… but will they?
If Mr. Pitts and Mr. Seliger have their way, regents at state universities won’t be allowed to exercise – as the state constitution requires – their duties to “provide for the administration [and] organization” in order to “achieve the maximum operating efficiency.”
Instead, Seliger and Pitts apparently want regents to look the other way when wealthy donors and legislative lackeys use power and influence to degrade the value of university degrees by allowing admission to unqualified students. And in so doing, they take the seats of qualified kids unfortunate enough not to be related – by blood or money – to such benefactors.
Quite frankly, by their excessive abuse of authority it appears Sen. Seliger and Rep. Pitts are impeaching themselves. Indeed, those who say regents shouldn’t investigate possible corruption in their universities are probably participating in it.
For example, Fort Worth lawyer Gordon Appleman is a “Texas Ex” leading the charge against regents who do their job by asking uncomfortable questions. Besides hefty hand-outs to UT, Texas Ethics Commission records show Mr. Appleman is a political donor to pro-bloat liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans. One has to wonder just how often Mr. Appleman’s money and activism have helped open the doors for friends and family unqualified to attend UT…
Yet an investigation by a sitting regents is exactly what Messer. Pitts and Seligger clearly want to stop.
It’s rather puzzling legislators and big donors are upset by someone asking legitimate questions derived from fiduciary responsibilities and driven by the sheer amount of questionable activities we already know have been taking place.
Taxpayers, tuition-payers, parents and students expect regents and legislators to do their job: stand up against such chicanery by asking tough questions of entrenched bureaucracies and investigate the heavy smoke pouring out of the tower of the state’s largest university.
Make your voice heard — call your state representative and state senator at their Capitol offices this week (they are still in special session): Tell them not to play along with the shameful legislative abuse being played out in Austin.
For the Lone Star State!
Michael Quinn Sullivan
& the EmpowerTexans.com Team