More controversy turned up over the weekend about how the Texas General Land Office and its chief, George P. Bush, are managing the Alamo.
The Austin American-Statesman published a draft internal audit report critical of the GLO’s management of the Alamo. Commissioner Bush, on the other hand, says his agency has proof the audit was doctored.
Jonathan Tilove, a reporter with the Statesman, first published the report.
“The big picture is, when George P. Bush became land commissioner,” Tilove says, “the Alamo was run by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. He didn’t like the way they were managing it so he took the contract away from them. He tried to find someone to manage it and couldn’t find somebody, so he ended up creating these nonprofits, including one called Alamo Complex Management, now the Alamo Trust, to run it day-to-day.”
The Alamo Trust uses state money, Tilove says, even though it’s a nonprofit that isn’t subject to some of the state government’s transparency laws. Another issue is that the Alamo Trust spends money before getting it approved.
“The problem there is it’s after the fact,” Tilove says. “So the money’s already been spent.”
Plus, according to the audit, the Alamo Trust doesn’t always do a conflict of interest check on its contractors.
“There was a Senate Finance Committee hearing in December where senators were quite critical of the way they were managing it,” Tilove says.
He says the committee’s message was that it would be a clearer system if the Alamo management team worked for the GLO directly, instead of through a nonprofit. But that approach could look less attractive to voters.
“George P. Bush prides himself and runs on reelection on having reduced the staff there,” Tilove says. “If he had taken the Alamo people on as GLO staff, he wouldn’t be able to boast about that in the same way.”
Tilove says the Statesman went ahead and published the audit even though Bush says the audit has been doctored.
“They told me it was altered but wouldn’t say how,” Tilove says.
Even with the controversy, Tilove says that, with his campaign war chest, Bush isn’t exactly vulnerable in his re-election bid.
Written by Jen Rice.