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 investigated by law enforcement officials.
“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, which had obtained a copy of the 23-page draft report, dated Sept. 8, wrote about the report’s conclusion that the GLO’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.
GLO spokeswoman Brittany Eck had told the Statesman that the document had been “altered” but would not say how.
The draft audit dealt with issues that the Senate Finance Committee brought up months later when Bush appeared before the committee on Dec. 5. The committee was given an interim charge by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to examine the GLO’s funding of the Alamo, and spent much of the hearing asking Bush 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.
Eck told the Texas Tribune that the Texas Department of Public Safety would investigate the matter. One of the aspects the investigation would look into would be whether “personally identifying information” had been shared outside the agency, she said.
On Thursday, Eck emailed the Statesman saying that, “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.”
On Friday, Ash Wright, Bush’s campaign manager, posted the Statesman story on the Bush campaign Facebook page, stamped “Fake News.”
“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 San Antonio Express-News on Friday. “We have individuals who are clearly trying to politicize this for political gain.”