* Dave McKinney at WBEZ…
With less than two weeks left in the spring legislative session, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker’s office is putting the kibosh on any taxpayer bailout of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, which as of last year owed more than $9 million from the purchase.
That pronouncement deepens uncertainty about the fate of some key bits of so-called “Lincolniana”: the blood-stained gloves Lincoln had with him the night he was assassinated, a quill pen left on his desk and a presidential seal he used.
Also in the cache bought by the foundation is a stovepipe hat that purportedly belonged to Lincoln. The hat was once appraised at more than $6 million before experts questioned its authenticity.
Last year, the foundation asked for state support to pay off its outstanding loan balance. If that support didn’t materialize, the group threatened to auction pieces of the Lincoln trove it acquired in 2007 from collector Louise Taper, who at the time was a member of the foundation’s board.
The governor and Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar, of downstate Bunker Hill, have been pressing for greater transparency into the foundation’s finances.
Earlier this year, Manar floated legislation that could have forced out the foundation’s senior leadership. Now, he is pushing a measure designed to foster greater cooperation between the foundation and the Springfield-based cultural institution it was set up to serve, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
“The governor has spoken with Sen. Manar, and they don’t believe it’s appropriate for the state to pay off this private debt. They are working on legislation to reset the relationship with the foundation,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh told WBEZ in a prepared statement.
Not sure what happens next. Maybe the foundation’s board of directors ought to pass the hat amongst themselves.