Back when the University of Texas Law School “forgivable loan” scandal broke, I said it was for all intents and purposes a slush fund and a serious ethical problem for UT.
I didn’t know the half of it.
This piece by Jon Cassidy at Watchdog.org (based in part on documents he obtained from UT) paints ex-UT Law Dean Larry Sager as wetting his beak even more than previously suspected.
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.
I can imagine numerous scenarios where a UT law school dean could rack up $400,000 in credit card expenses, but most of them involve words like “gambling,” “hookers” and “blow.”
More from Cassidy:
In all, the foundation has spent more than $1 million in compensating and reimbursing Sager. That’s just a fraction, however, of the $68 million the foundation has spread around UT during the past decade, most of it compensating the school’s faculty and administrators.
The question the attorney general’s report does not answer, or even ask, is whether the members of the Law School Foundation have received anything in return for their largesse. Reporting by Watchdog.org has established that many children of generous foundation members have been admitted into UT Law, although there is little evidence that would cast doubt on their qualifications.
More on that “forgiveable loan”:
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.”
Keeping two sets of books is a classic indicator of financial fraud.
Thus far I have only skimmed the official Attorney General report on the loan issue (much less dug through all of the appendices), but there are several other questionable practices highlighted, like an unrecorded, $25,000 payment to one faculty member.
As Dallas Observer writer Jim Schutze notes, the state media continues to ignore the scandal regent Wallace Hall uncovered:
Cassidy’s and Williamson’s reporting was uniformly ignored by reporters and editorial pages of the state’s mainstream media. Most of the state’s major editorial pages joined the exposed members of the Legislature in denouncing Hall. An ad hoc committee of the Texas House of Representatives labored for months to find a way to remove Hall from the board of regents. When their own lawyers told them Hall hadn’t done anything for which he could be impeached and was in fact carrying out the duties of a regent, the committee slapped Hall instead with a gratuitous and toothless “censure,” an act with the legal meaning and gravitas of “fuck you anyway.”
And while he may no longer be Dean, Sager is still listed among UT law faculty.
The report goes to show, once again, that Wallace Hall was right about the need for tighter and deeper board oversight at UT. And that UT’s stables still haven’t been fully swept out…