Heritage, Winter 2004 Page: 26
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CRUSADING JOURNALIST UNCOVERS
A LAND OFFICE SCANDAL...AND WINS A PULITZER
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF THE
TEXAS GENERAL LAND OFFICE
Nearly 50 years ago, Ken Towery
delved into a complicated land fraud
that folks in the small town of Cuero
warned would leave him with rich enemies
and poor friends.
It was advice Towery ignored. Instead,
the managing editor at the 3,800-daily
circulation Cuero Record spent months
unraveling a complex land fraud scheme
at the Texas Veterans Land Board, part
of the General Land Office. In the end,
Towery's efforts rocked state government
to the highest levels, won him a
Pulitzer prize and earned Bascom Giles
-then a popular nine-term Land
Commissioner-two years in the state
Filled with accomplishment and interest,
Towery's story is one worth study. At
18, he fought in World War II in the
Pacific and was captured by the Japanese.
He spent more than three years in prisoner
of war camps, an experience he later
wrote about in his book, The Chow
He worked as press secretary for U.S.
Senator John Tower and was deputy
director of the United States
Information Agency during the latter
days of the Cold War. Towery was also
appointed to two five-year terms with
the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
by former President Ronald Reagan, and
confirmed by the U.S.. Senate.
But before that, he was just a rookie
journalist in Cuero. Disabled from his
time in the POW camps, Towery and his
wife moved to the small town about 80
miles east of San Antonio to start their
life. Despite his lack of experience, he
took his job as a journalist seriously.
Towery wasn't a man to be intimidated
by small-town power brokers or statewide
He got his first whiff of the veterans'
HERITAGE G WINTER 2004
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Winter 2004, periodical, Winter 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45372/m1/26/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.