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Conservative Group's Robocalls Target UT Admissions Report

After a recent report showed that some University of Texas at Austin applicants received help securing admittance over the admissions office’s objections, conservative activists are calling Texans at home and asking them to take action.

UT President Bill Powers speaks during a UT Board of Regents meeting on July 10, 2014.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated with a comment from Tony McDonald, general counsel for Empower Texans.

After a recent report showed that some University of Texas at Austin applicants received help securing admittance over the admissions office’s objections, conservative activists are calling Texans at home and asking them to take action.

The voice message from the advocacy group Empower Texans lists the number for the Capitol operating system and urges people to call their state representatives and demand that they say whether they helped try to get someone into UT-Austin.

“The culprits are refusing to step forward,” Tony McDonald, general counsel for Empower Texans, says in the message. “They must be held accountable. Demand your state legislators come clean on their involvement.” 

"It’s been a problem that those who are involved haven’t come forward," McDonald said. "We’d like to try and start that process.”

A report released in February by risk management firm Kroll Associates found that UT-Austin President Bill Powers helped some students gain admittance despite objections from the admissions office. Members of the UT System Board of Regents and state lawmakers also had some involvement in advocating for certain under-qualified applicants. 

The report identified 73 applicants who were admitted with a combined SAT score of less than 1100 and a high school GPA of less than 2.9, and said political connections may have “influenced the admission decision in a small number of cases.”

The voice message from Empower Texans directs listeners to a website set up by the group, saveut.com.

Capitol operators said they received a particularly high number of calls Tuesday afternoon from constituents asking to speak to their lawmakers about the admissions report.

Here’s the full text and an audio recording of the message.

“This is Tony McDonald, general counsel for Empower Texans and a UT alum. Recently, an independent investigation confirmed that unnamed legislators have been abusing their power to get under-qualified children of donors, family and friends admitted to UT. The culprits are refusing to step forward. They must be held accountable. Call the Capitol at 512-463-4630. Demand your state legislators come clean on their involvement. For more information, visit saveut.com or call us at 512-236-0201.”

Bobby Blanchard contributed to this report.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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