A Texas House panel has begun hearing witness testimony in an investigation that could lead to the first impeachment of a non-elected official in state history.
The battle surrounding University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall has been brewing since the legislative session.
On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Jim Pitts told a committee of lawmakers under oath why he feels it's necessary to impeach Hall.
"Mr. Hall's vendetta is hurting the credibility and prestige of one of our state's best assets and his actions are harming the reputation of one of the most respected university presidents in the country," Pitts sad.
At the request of his attorney, Hall was not in attendance. The regent is accused of overstepping the authority of his office in an effort to oust Bill Powers, president of the University of Texas.
Much of Tuesday’s discussion was focused around the significant amount of public information which Hall has requested from U.T. Austin—reportedly costing the school a significant amount of time and money to answer.
"In my opinion, Mr. Hall has gone on a fishing expedition in hopes of finding something, just anything with which he can use to oust President Powers," Pitts said.
But Hall's attorney, Allan Van Fleet, told reporters Tuesday the regent's open records requests have been an attempt to make the university more transparent.
"What Regent Hall has done is actually tried to improve the system for its students and for the taxpayers of Texas," Van Fleet said.
Hall’s attorney is anxious to tell his side of the story, including his criticism of the U.T. Austin admissions process—especially since requests from Hall's legal team to cross examine witnesses have been rejected by the committee.
U.T. Austin's Chief Financial Officer also testified Tuesday, saying he'd never seen so many information requests before and that they had to increase staff to keep up with Regent Hall's demands.
The committee is scheduled to hear witness testimony again Wednesday. Further hearings are scheduled for November and December.