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Prizker nixes state bailout for private foundation

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

9 Comments
  1. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    Excellent news. I had wondered whether taxpayers would be on the hook for this.


  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    –Maybe the foundation’s board of directors ought to pass the hat amongst themselves.–

    Rimshot.

    Maybe the U.S. Attorney should take a deep-dive into how the board came to approve such a huge purchase of questionable stuff from board member Louise Taper.


  3. - Skeptic - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 11:50 am:

    Or maybe they should apologize hat-in-hand.


  4. - Nick Name - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 11:50 am:

    ===Maybe the U.S. Attorney should take a deep-dive into how the board came to approve such a huge purchase of questionable stuff from board member Louise Taper.===

    Second rimshot.


  5. - Wylie Coyote - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    The board of directors looks like a “Who’s Who” of who you know….


  6. - Demoralized - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 11:57 am:

    ==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.==

    Perhaps they should ask Ms. Taper to buy the items back and still let them be displayed.

    Buying items from a Board member. No conflicts there.

    Perhaps we should have some competent Board members if they aren’t smart enough to figure out a glaring conflict of interest.


  7. - Precision - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 12:02 pm:

    Technically, the organization in question is a public charity, not a private foundation. Charities receive grant funds; foundations provide them. Both are 501(c)3s.

    It is important to maintain the distinction. The Clinton and Obama Foundations are public charities. The MacArthur Foundation is a private foundation, as is the Trump Foundation (if only in legal status and not so much in operation).


  8. - Ginhouse Tommy - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    If this is a group of who you knows then they figured they didn’t have to abide by any rules. They figured that someone under the dome would approve of this shady transaction and no one would be the wiser. In other words no accountability. This time they were wrong. It’s their mess, they can clean it up without state help.


  9. - A guy - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 3:01 pm:

    If Ms. Taper didn’t stipulate at the time of the sale that the authenticity might be in question on items in the collection, she might want to consider a rebate.
    If she did, there’s another direction for anguish to go; Ms. Taper’s board colleagues. For this conversation to even need to be had should be embarrassing and amazing.


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