Land Commissioner George P. Bush said Friday that a draft report by the General Land Office’s internal auditors critical of the agency’s oversight of the Alamo was “doctored” — and how that happened would be the subject of a law enforcement investigation.
“I can’t really comment on the document. I cannot disclose, but we do have evidence that it was a doctored memo,” Bush told reporters after participating in a morning keynote discussion with Attorney General Ken Paxton at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual Policy Orientation conference. “With respect to internal auditing, that’s a good business practice, that’s what commissioners should do, constantly find ways to improve.”
The American-Statesman obtained a copy of the 23-page draft report, dated Sept. 8. The document concluded that the agency’s use of a nonprofit to manage the Alamo’s day-to-day operations was unduly complicated and sometimes led to practices that run afoul of state requirements.
General Land Office spokeswoman Brittany Eck had told the Statesman that the document had been “altered” but would not say how. On Friday, Ash Wright, Bush’s campaign manager, posted the Statesman story on the Bush campaign Facebook page, stamped “Fake News.”
The draft audit dealt with issues that the Senate Finance Committee — which was given an interim charge by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to examine the agency’s funding of the Alamo — brought up months later. When Bush appeared at a Dec. 5 hearing, the committee spent much of the time asking him why the management of the Alamo was so convoluted and lacking in transparency.
The senators were unaware of the draft audit that had been prepared three months earlier.
Bush’s stewardship of the Alamo has also been an issue in his primary campaign against his predecessor, Jerry Patterson. The primary is March 6.
Eck said Thursday that the final audit, with the agency’s responses, would not be released until spring.
“This internal audit has been in draft form for five months because as long as it’s a draft, it’s not subject to open records requests,” Patterson said in a statement.
The San Antonio Express-News quoted Bush defending the funding structure he set up to manage the Alamo, in which a nonprofit handles day-to-day operations with state money. “We think it’s the best model,” Bush said.
On Thursday, Eck emailed the Statesman saying, “The real question any journalist should be asking is who is criminally tampering with government documents in violation of Sec. 37.10 of the Texas Penal Code in an effort to politicize and detract from the root mission of preserving the Alamo.”
Eck told the Texas Tribune that the Texas Department of Public Safety would investigate the matter. One aspect of the investigation would be whether “personally identifying information” had been shared outside the agency, she said.
“We see this as a gross violation of the Alamo because here we are, we are trying to bring the Alamo’s operations into this modern century,” Eck told the Express-News on Friday. “We have individuals who are clearly trying to politicize this for political gain.”