UT Watch Responds - Bill aims at public fund disclosures

One image speaks volumes.

Tom Hicks, the man so gracefully devouring a hot dog above, was formerly a member of the Board of Regents as well as the first chairman of UTIMCO. Under his "leadership", as well as a considerable amount of secrecy, UTIMCO invested around $525 million dollars of public money into assets run by Hick's buddies (including his brother) and major republican donors. After the Houston Chronicle published several articles in 1999 exposing the degree to which UTIMCO had become a tool for Hicks' personal business and political dealings, he resigned from the board.

The Hicks fiasco is a perfect illustration of how "flexibility", when used as double-speak for secrecy and an atmosphere of unaccountability, is no solution to the financial problems that so many public institution in Texas are facing.

Public money, wherever it may roam, must always come with the string of transparency. Even if a few lucrative investments must occasionally be passed up, minimizing corruption and abuse may actually save money in the long run. Besides, most of investments that are facilitated by more secrecy are venture capital investments, which are much more risky, and thus not ideal for investing public money. More importantly, there is no effective democracy without transparency. UT Watch applauds Gattis and Duncan's efforts to clean up the den of cronyism that is Texas Politics.