Remember To...Take Care of The Alamo?

Caretaker’s actions concern state

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Frank Heinz

    Caretakers for one of the state’s most revered landmarks are under investigation.

    For more than a century, The Daughters of the Republic of Texas has maintained the Alamo.

    But the Texas Attorney General's office told lawmakers there are concerns with how the Daughters are running the famous historic site and didn't rule out legal action as an investigation into the group continues.

    What would Davy Crockett do?

    "Despite their best efforts ... the DRT appears to lack the resources at this time to properly maintain the Alamo," assistant attorney general Daniel Hodge told a House panel.

    The group’s attorney, Jim Ewbanks is defending their operations and has even challenged monetary figures presented to the panel by Hodge.

    A large portion of The Daughter’s $5.3 million generated, mostly from gift shop sales, is used to run the Alamo.

    But Ewbanks said that doesn't mean there isn't more money available for preservation.

    "Large amounts of money spent on preservation come actually from (grants)," Ewbanks said. "There's a lot of sources being used for preservation funds that make that number much larger than Mr. Hodge might have had it appear."

    Hodge's testimony didn't sit well with about three dozen Daughters members who packed a committee room to standing room only. The three-hour hearing raised concerns about the Daughters' ability to raise money, decisions by their leadership and how quickly the Alamo received much needed repairs.

    In one example, Hodge described the Daughters scrambling to raise money for a new building, suggesting the group was perhaps prioritizing new projects ahead of Alamo preservation.

    "That is a potential cause for concern, particularly when money is as tight as it is today," Hodge said.

    Ewbanks also defended the Daughters' efforts to trademark the Alamo brand, which the 7,000-plus member group sees as a potentially lucrative revenue stream. The Daughters gave no warning to the state before applying for the trademark, and Gov. Rick Perry's office has sought to block that effort, claiming it would interfere with the state's ownership of the Alamo.

    "The Daughters are losing significant revenue that could be used for the Alamo," Ewbanks said.

    The Alamo doesn’t receive taxpayer funding and offers free admission. An estimated 2.5 million visitors flock each year the site of the famous 1836 battle where an outnumbered band of Texas defenders staged a legendary stand, before Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his Mexican forces seized the mission.

    The attorney general's office opened an investigation into the Daughters last year following allegations of mismanagement by former members. The investigation remains open, and Hodge said it the attorney general's office wants to avoid "legal avenues" to resolve its concerns.

    Ewbanks said the Daughters have turned over more than 40,000 documents to the attorney general's office. He said the group hasn’t had a chance to tell its side of the story yet to investigators.

    Stan Graves, the director of architecture for the Texas Historical Commission, testified that one concern is the work that is needed to preserve the Alamo is limited by fundraising.

    "I know the state is broke ... but there are times the state does step up," Graves said.

    The Associated Press' Paul J. Weber contributed to this report.