Former Abbott chief-of-staff entangled in #RegentGate now consults A&M

It certainly appears to be what we thought it was.

Throughout our #RegentGate coverage, based upon very strong sourcing, we’ve maintained Gov. Greg Abbott’s former chief-of-staff Daniel Hodge played a pivotal role in events that would lead to the ouster of Texas Tech University System Chancellor Bob Duncan. 

A new document reveals that Hodge’s consulting group, DTH Strategies, is currently under contract with the Texas A&M System Office— the office overseen by Chancellor John Sharp, the world’s staunchest opponent of Tech’s proposed veterinarian school in Amarillo. The dates of the contract overlap Duncan’s inexplicable ousting last month.

About Hodge’s role with Tech Board of Regents in late 2016, we’ve previously written:

Hodge, then 38, a bright, young hand with deep beltway connections— one of the most significant being with Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp— imposed a threat upon the Tech board: Choose between a dental school and a vet school. One or the other, but not both, the governor’s man directed.

This was hardly a choice. The El Paso-based dental school had millions of dollars worth of commitments, thanks in large part to Board Chairman Rick Francis’ El Paso business ally Woody Hunt. The vet school proposal, however, was almost entirely funded by hope

To drive the point home— lest there be any confusion that a choice wasn’t actually being offered— Hodge, according to sources, instructed regents up for reappointment in January 2017 that helpfulness in getting Duncan to hit the brakes on the vet school could be significant determination in reappointment considerations.

Texas A&M’s purchase order for 12 months of “advice” from DTH Strategies, beginning in November 2017

For those who’ve followed our coverage, late 2016 marks a critical period which would set Duncan’s “retirement” in motion.

On Friday evening, Quorum Report Editor Scott Braddock tweeted a link to an A&M System Office purchase order to with Hodge’s group “to provide strategic advice (sp) on public policy matters.”

Regardless of where their college degree was earned, one could logically deduce that Abbott’s former chief is now under contract by to do what he’s been doing since at least late 2016— wrecking Tech’s vet school proposal.

For context, longtime Texas political observers questioned Abbott’s ability lead, especially in comparison to his predecessor, during his first in his first three years as governor— a period in which many observed Hodge often assert himself in Abbott’s stead. The New York Times wrote about the governor’s “struggle to lead” in July 2017. In the piece The Times quoted a column I had recently written:

… in The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Jay Leeson, a columnist and talk-radio co-host, quoted an unnamed Republican lawmaker who said the state was being “run by Governor Hodge,” a reference to Mr. Abbott’s chief of staff, Daniel Hodge.

In a Thursday visit to Amarillo, Abbott touted his support for Tech’s vet school. Sources in attendance also say that in general remarks, Abbott, unprompted, categorically denied that he, himself, ever threatened Tech regents to choose between a proposed dental school in El Paso and the vet school.

This is technically true. 

But the real question for Abbott is this: Will you categorically deny that your former chief of staff directed that this decision be made, wanted a consensus vote that would put the vet school on pause and demanded your name not be involved in any of it?

And if you think Abbott can honestly do that, I’ve got a ski resort in Amarillo— or, perhaps, a vet school— to sell you.

Jay Leeson is the founder of Other Side of Texas. You can hear the radio program by the same name each weekday 5-6pm CST on AM 580 Lubbock, streaming at OtherSideofTexas.com. Each episode is posted as a podcast, subscribe at Apple podcasts.

RELATED:

Click here to read about Tech Board Chairman Rick Francis’ financial interests in Tech’s proposed downtown El Paso

Click here to read about how documents prove Tech Chancellor Bob Duncan was forced to retire

Click here to read Texas Tech’s #RegentGate and the Questions that Linger: Part 1

Click here to read Texas Tech’s #RegentGate and the Questions that Linger: Part 2

Featured image via Texas Tribune

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