Newsmonger: AG investigation into Daughters, Tracking chips and Devil marks, Climate bomb
Published: November 28, 2012
AG investigation into Daughters
Buried in its 38-page report slamming the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the state Attorney General's office hones in on what led to the group's years-long mismanagement of the Alamo: "inadequate understanding of historic preservation." The Daughters, custodians of the Shrine of Texas Liberty from 1905 until the Lege removed them amid claims of neglect and mismanagement last year, continue to run daily operations at the Alamo under a state contract that's set to expire mid-2013.
The report, culmination of an 18-month investigation into the Daughters' finances and management of the Alamo, claims the organization's leadership "did not properly preserve and maintain the Alamo" and "misused state funds for the organization's own benefit." Maintaining and preserving historic structures is an art that requires expertise, more than just day-to-day maintenance, the report states. The Daughters failed to adequately care for the landmark, in part, "because the DRT did not fully grasp the nature and importance of historic preservation." Daughters President Karen Thompson, in a written statement this week, called the report "outrageously inaccurate," saying, "It seems that this report, which includes only interviews with disavowed members and former employees, is not an accurate description of the DRT in 2012." Thompson claims that since the AG's office began its investigation, officials have denied five requests to meet with Daughters leadership and staff.
Since 1895, only four members have been booted from the Daughters, three of which occurred in the past three years. One of those members, Sarah Reveley, contacted the AG's office with a laundry list of charges against the organization in February 2010, sparking the AG investigation. Reveley was kicked out months after filing the complaint.
The report also outlines the Daughters' recent troubles. Soon after the AG's office began looking into the organization, the Daughters were embroiled in a costly, public spat with the state when it tried to trademark "The Alamo" without state approval. The Daughters then backed out of a near $1 million contract with a Los Angeles-based marketing firm that saddled the organization with $150,000 in debt, though Daughters general counsel falsely claimed the organization didn't owe the company anything during a Legislative hearing last year. (Daughters general counsel later told the AG's office they must have "misunderstood" lawmakers' questions.)
For years the Daughters only allocated about $350 a year for preservation projects, even though employees had identified leaks in the Alamo shrine as early as 1997. After resigning in 2009, former Alamo Director David Stewart petitioned Preservation Texas urging the Alamo be declared an endangered site. The Daughters didn't approve testing the roof for structural integrity until after spring 2010, when a chunk of plaster crashed to the ground. "Even then, no testing actually occurred until the Governor's Office instructed the DRT to confirm whether the public could safely visit the Alamo," the report states.