Texas legislator Fischer insists on role in UT investigation

Part 32 of 32 in the series Trouble in Texas

Last fall, Ferdinand Frank Fischer, III said Wallace Hall’s failure to tolerate accounting fraud is grounds for impeachment.

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org

Two state lawmakers, whose demands to be included in an investigation into the University of Texas’ admissions practices were unanimously rejected by the Board of Regents earlier this month, are objecting to their rejection, although there’s little they can do about it.

State Reps. Ferdinand “Trey” Fischer and Lyle Larson responded to the board’s 9-0 vote to reject their demands with follow-up letters sent late last week.

In his letter, dated Sept. 18, Larson states exactly what he wants: “every effort must be taken to ensure that this investigation does not become a continuation of what many believe to be harassment of UT Austin President Bill Powers.”

In his Sept. 19 letter, Fischer writes that he finds himself “understandably concerned about the perception or possibility of interference in this investigation from the System or the Board.”

As Fischer has no legal authority to do anything but request information, he presents his demands to sit in on all interviews as an exercise of his right to request information.

“If you persist in denying the Legislature its lawful duty to oversee the UT System in this matter, then Attorney General Greg Abbott must be apprised of the University of Texas System’s conduct so that he may advise the System about the implications of ignoring state law when requests for information are being made for legislative purposes,” Fischer writes.

Abbott has the authority to issue nonbinding opinions on the functions of many state offices.

Fischer asks that Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa or board Chair Paul Foster contact him within two days “to arrange a meeting.” The consensus on the board is they’ve already answered Fischer’s request.

Contact Jon Cassidy at jon@watchdog.org or @jpcassidy000.