Monday, January 19, 2015

Another Round of U.T. Financial Shenanigans Uncovered

"For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,"
2 Timothy 3:2

Oh good grief:
Ex-UT Law dean’s credit card bill: $400k in four years

For years before a forgivable loan scandal forced him to resign as dean of the University of Texas Law School in 2011, Lawrence Sager was running up annual six-figure bills on a credit card paid for by the UT Law School Foundation.

From 2007 to 2010, Sager racked up $401,498.29 on that card, all of it paid by the foundation, apart from tens of thousands in other expenses for conferences, computers, club dues, food, travel, storage units and other items.


The report flatly contradicts an earlier internal investigation that attempted to absolve everyone at UT of any involvement in covering up an off-the-books compensation program at UT Law that violated system rules. The new report describes “a climate of non-disclosure” around the program.

Sager was so keen on keeping the details of his faculty perks program secret that he used public and private funds to settle a dubious lawsuit by a professor that threatened to expose the program, according to the new report.


The new report, in contrast, faults Sager for keeping the program secret, despite a regents’ rule forbidding employees from accepting money from university foundations without approval by the chancellor.

The report says that “under Dean Sager’s leadership the Law School provided incorrect or incomplete responses to requests for salary information by both University management and the public pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act. To settle a lawsuit, both Foundation and public funds were expended in order to paper over a climate of non-disclosure.”

Scott also faulted Sager for concealing the $500,000 forgivable loan he procured for himself, reporting that “the Law School maintained two forgivable loan lists — one that contained Dean Sager’s $500,000 forgivable loan and one that excluded that particular loan.”

When a professor filed a sex-discrimination lawsuit over the secret loans, “Sager indicated that the matter should be settled, at least in part, because he believed if the full picture of the Law School’s compensation package were to become public it would be very damaging to the Law School and the University. Importantly, Dean Sager himself had received a $500,000 forgivable loan that would have been publicly disclosed, although Sager specifically denies this was a concern.”
 It gets worse; read the whole thing (including details about Bill Powers' compensation) here.

Empower Texans provides more context:
A new report on the financial malfeasance at the University of Texas – released late on Friday afternoon before a long weekend – offers harsh criticism of a payola scandal begun when UT President Bill Powers was head of the law school. Without naming him, the report also serves to vindicate the investigation started by UT Regent Wallace Hall that House Speaker Joe Straus and his cronies have tried to silence.

This new report only investigated the UT Law School’s so-called “deferred compensation” program operated in conjunction with the UT Law School Foundation. An investigation into the clout-abuse scandal is ongoing.

Powers, who was forced to resign at the end of this semester, has seen his term helming the state’s flagship university marked by several financial scandals. Yet it has been revelations of a clout-abuse program, operated apparently through his office, which has resulted in lawmakers connected to Speaker Straus trying to silence whistleblowers.


Throughout the Attorney General’s report are references to documents not being provided to investigators by the law school or the associated foundation. When UT officials refuse to fully cooperate with both their constitutionally appointed regents and law enforcement, it is indicative that perhaps there is even more trouble to uncover.

UT is still playing hide-the-ball even with this report. It was sent to them on Dec. 31, but UT did not release the report ... until 4:30pm on Friday, in advance of the Martin Luther King Jr. long weekend.

Again, given the role Joe Straus has played in trying to block investigations into the malfeasance, it should be noted that they did not release the report until fours days AFTER he was re-elected as House Speaker.


It’s unlikely that Straus and his cronies cared about the payola scheme Powers hatched at the law school. What’s abundantly clear is that Straus didn’t start attacking Hall and seeking to silence him, until after Hall apparently uncovered evidence demonstrating a pattern of politically motivated acceptances to the law school and other programs.
 Read the whole AG report here.

1 comment:

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