University releases long list of confidential records to Board of Regents

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After several months of dispute, the University agreed this week to release confidential records from October 2012 to February 2013 to UT System Board of Regents member Wallace Hall Jr.

According to System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, the documents arrived at the System’s downtown office on Wednesday morning. 

LaCoste-Caputo said the documents would likely be returned later that day, after the documents were copied by System employees. Hall was also on site to begin his review of the documents. 

Kevin Hegarty, the University’s vice president and chief financial officer, is in charge of open records requests. According to the Austin-American Statesman, Hegarty initially was hesitant to give access to confidential records to Hall – but system lawyers advised with the exception of Social Security numbers, personal health information and information about students, Hall is entitled to see the information he requested. 

Hall, who had already been granted access to roughly 40 boxes of materials, requested the files earlier this year as part of a larger conflict between the University and the board. Hall was also one of the four regents who voted for an external review of the relationship between the UT School of Law and the Law School Foundation because he alleged there were documents that were not made available for the original investigation conducted by System council Barry Burgdorf.

In April, The Texas Tribune obtained documents revealing Hall had failed to disclose his involvement in at least six state and federal lawsuits on his original application for the regent position. In the same week, board chairman Gene Powell asked the Texas Attorney General if the System is allowed to withhold information from legislators. 

Powell’s request was prompted by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who made a wide-ranging request as a private citizen under the Texas Public Information Act. Powell’s letter sparked sharp criticism from lawmakers and the board voted unanimously to release all documents requested at their most recent meeting.