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Robert F. Smith, the billionaire investor who pledged to pay off the student debt of Morehouse College's graduating class last year, is under investigation by the Justice Department for possible tax crimes.


Smith is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of the private equity and venture capital firm Vista Equity Partners, which has an office in downtown Austin.

Bloomberg reported Friday that federal authorities have spent four years examining whether Smith failed to pay taxes on about $200 million in assets by moving them through offshore accounts.

Smith is trying to resolve the case with a civil settlement, according to Bloomberg, but if convicted he could be sentenced to prison and forced out of his firm.

Smith's profile has increased in the last few years. He married his second wife, former Playmate of the Year Hope Dworacyzk, in 2015, and became the first Black American to sign the Giving Pledge, a campaign founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to get billionaires to pledge at least half of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

In May of 2019, Smith gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, a historically black men's college in Atlanta, and announced he would pay off the student loans of the roughly 400 graduates.

(Austonia staff)

Barton Springs pool will reopen on Saturday after being closed since late June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Gov. Greg Abbott help a press conference Sept. 24 to announce new legislative proposals.

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(Realtor.com)

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(Pexels)

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When the University of Texas at Austin hosted its first home football game of the season, administrators required student attendees to be tested for COVID-19 before entering the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Of the 1,198 students who were tested that day, 95 returned positive results, according to a university spokesperson. But none of these cases were logged on the Austin-Travis County COVID-19 dashboard or counted toward official totals.

Why?

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(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Hiram Garcia, on the right with a white mask, talks to a protester after he is shoved to the ground for live streaming.

After a Kentucky grand jury ruled not to charge two of the three police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor, protesters across the country took to the streets, including at the Texas Capitol and Austin City Hall to stand against the decision.

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Jordan Vonderhaar/The Texas Tribune

Forty-one states have passed laws allowing online voter registration; Texas is not one of them.

By Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff

When Jarrod Stringer updated his driver's license address in 2014, the Texas Department of Public Safety website asked if he wanted to register to vote. He clicked yes and thought he was registered. That fall, when he went to vote in San Antonio, he was denied. According to the system, he had never registered. It was past the registration deadline, so he couldn't vote.

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