PolitiFact Texas: Texas Gold

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Alain StephensJuly 1, 2015 7:51 am|

Roll out your wagons – Gov. Greg Abbott said about a billion bucks of gold bullion is heading from the Federal Reserve back to Texas.

Is that a fact?

Riding up with the details is Gardner Selby of the Austin American Statesman’s fact checking project, PolitiFact Texas.

So, Gov. Abbott said this about a new law?

That’s right, After he signed a measure into law this month creating a Texas Bullion Depository, Abbott’s office said the law “will repatriate $1 billion of gold bullion from the Federal Reserve in New York to Texas.” A reader asked us to check that.

Repatriate, by the way, means to send money back to your country.

So what about this bullion – bullion of course is lots of gold or another precious metal bars – How did you check Abbott’s description of the law? How did he back it up?

He did not. We failed to elicit elaboration or explanation from Abbott or the author of the legislation.

But we saw news stories written as House Bill 483 made its way to Abbott. They said that as of 2013, the University of Texas Investment Management Company was storing 6,643 gold bars – worth around $1 billion – in the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in New York.

Sounds like a billion in bullion, roughly.

Right, but when we checked in with UTIMCO lately says its gold holdings are down to less than that, more like 5,600 bars valued at around $660 million.

Now, didn’t the Governor say this money was coming back from the Federal Reserve? But you just spoke about the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in New York.

Right, and he was wrong about that.  We did not confirm any bullion being held for Texas at the Federal Reserve in NY, though that agency indeed has a vault in Manhattan. The website says secures bullion for the U.S. government, foreign governments, other central banks and official international organizations – not state agencies.

Does the law require the bullion to shift to the Texas depository?

Not in the proposal, not in the law. There’s nothing like that mandated in the law.

But that might still happen. Bruce Zimmerman, UTIMCO’s CEO, told us the company will consider moving its bullion if the Texas depository meets various conditions including that costing the same or less than the costs at that New York bank.

In the end, how did Abbott’s claim fare on the Texas Truth-O-Meter?

Our editors saw a thread of truth. The approved Texas depository could field bullion deposits. But the statute as we just discussed doesn’t repatriate any bullion, there’s $660 billion in bullion at issue. And it’s not in the Federal Reserve, contrary to the governor’s claim. Mostly False.