Is Texas Austin Engaged in Cronyism?
We’re told everything is bigger in Texas. But you wouldn’t expect a Chicago-sized corruption scandal to engulf the state’s flagship law school.
Worse yet, the shenanigans seem to have bi-partisan support.
Those were the findings from Watchdog.org, which has been investigating favoritism in law school admissions at the University of Texas (Austin). Who would’ve thought that “hook ‘em horns” was a euphemism for political prostitution?
The scandal started growing legs after the February bar exam results were posted, where the passage rate for the Austin law school dropped to 59 percent, ranking it last among all Texas law schools, according to FOX News. After examining the data, WatchDog noticed that 90 students had failed the bar two times or more. After further review, WatchDog identified some hefty political connections among 24 of those students:
- “At least 15 of the students are politically connected, either through office, personal relationships, or campaign donations to officeholders who have figured in the fight over UT’s leadership.”
- “At least 12 of the students have roots in Laredo, home of state Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D), who is known to have pulled strings on behalf of other applicants. As Laredo has just 2 percent of the state’s population, it’s highly over represented in this sample.”
- “A half-dozen of the students have connections to state Rep. Joe Straus (R), his close allies, or a lobby shop that rose to prominence with Straus’s ascendance to speaker in 2009.”
- “Two of the students are known to have LSAT scores well below UT standards. James Ryan Pitts, son of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts (R), has now failed the bar exam three times since graduation after scoring a 155 and a 147 on the LSAT, which is scored on a scale of 120 to 180. Those scores rank in the 64th percentile and 33rd percentile nationwide, and are well below the scores in the mid-160s that UT usually requires.”
Looking for more red meat? After trolling through over a decade’s worth of data, Watchdog.org found even more dubious credentials from Longhorn alums in Texas’ political elite:
- “State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, like Zaffirini a Democrat from Laredo, who was first elected in 1992, failed the bar exam in 2007 and 2008, and is not a member of the Texas bar.”
- “State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, first elected in 2002, failed the bar three times between 2010 and 2012, and is not a member of the bar, either. One of Rodriguez’s senior staffers, also a UT Law grad, failed the bar three times between 2009 and 2010.”
(Story Continues on next page)