The public integrity unit in the Travis County district attorney's office will open an investigation into allegations of potential criminal wrongdoing by University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall.
Gregg Cox, the director of the unit, confirmed the investigation was happening but said he was unable to comment further.
Hall is the subject of an investigation by the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations. He has been accused of abusing his authority in pursuit of information to use in an alleged effort to oust the president of the University of Texas at Austin. Hall's lawyers have said the regent was duty-bound to look into what he believed to be questionable activity at the university.
Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The legislative committee is expected to vote on whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the regent on May 12. One of the tools members will use in making their decision is a report from their special counsel, Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, that lays out four possible bases for impeachment.
The regent's handling of private student information — specifically, his sharing of protected documents with his lawyers, and the subsequent publication of that information in blogs — was among the possible reasons. And Hardin speculated that it might have crossed a legal line.
In the report, Hardin wrote, "Hall’s improper use of confidential information violated federal and state privacy statutes, violated the Texas Penal Code, and constituted 'official misconduct' under the Texas Public Information Act."
Because of the legal questions raised, the committee's co-chairs referred the matter to Travis County prosecutors earlier this month.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. Rusty Hardin was a major donor to the Tribune in 2012 and 2013. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/04/25/criminal-investigation-ut-regent-hall-opened/.