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Now we know why Pritzker fired the director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Monday, Nov 25, 2019

* Last year…


* This past September 20th

Gov. J.B. Pritzker fired the executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Friday, marking the latest chapter of turmoil for the Springfield institution. […]

A spokeswoman for Pritzker said they couldn’t provide details of the firing.

* Friday

An Illinois watchdog has determined the head of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield violated policy by loaning its copy of the Gettysburg Address to conservative commentator Glenn Beck.

The state’s Office of the Inspector General started investigating the loan after it received an anonymous tip that officials at the museum “p*mped out” an irreplaceable, handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address to Beck for $50,000 last year.

Mercury One, Beck’s right-leaning nonprofit, put the rare artifact on display for three days at its office in Texas as part of a “pop-up” museum in June 2018.

* More

Lowe, the former director of the George W. Bush Presidential Center who took over at the Springfield museum in July 2016, ignored the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s standard practices for loaning items, according to the inspector general report.

After the Gettysburg Address arrived at its destination in Texas, the Facebook page of Beck’s television and radio station, The Blaze, posted a live video showing “Beck and a woman referred to in the video as a curator together lifting the Gettysburg Address out of the crate with gloved hands and carrying it to a table,” according to the report. […]

“The people of Illinois are fortunate that the Gettysburg Address and other artifacts ultimately returned safely to the ALPLM in June 2018, despite the risks that were taken,” the report says.

In recommending Lowe’s firing, the report also noted that he attempted to make two additional loans to Mercury One that never came to fruition, one because the planned exhibit never occurred and one because it was blocked by Lincoln museum staff.

* More

State historian Samuel Wheeler told investigators that he told Lowe the loan was “inappropriate and unadvisable on every level.” Wheeler said that Lowe responded that the decision was already made and that he wanted to know how to facilitate the loan.

Investigators interviewed Lowe, who said he was not aware the Historic Preservation Agency board, which was no longer in existence when the loan was made, had passed a resolution prohibiting future loans of the Gettysburg Address.

Lowe said he knew Beck from the time he was director of the George Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Lowe said Beck contacted him about wanting to help raise money to pay off the debt that was incurred from buying the Taper collection of Lincoln artifacts. As part of that effort, Beck wanted to mount an exhibit in Dallas that would use Lincoln artifacts. […]

[Chief Operating Officer Michael Little] went to work for Mercury One after leaving the ALPLM in lieu of termination. Little was the subject of another inspector general report that said he left a Lincoln document unattended in the Capitol.

* From the Inspector General’s report

Mr. Lowe’s Consulting Business And Advisory Position With Mercury One

On an ALPLM form dated August 17, 2018, Mr. Lowe disclosed that he has secondary employment through his business, Alan Lowe Consulting. Mr. Lowe described this business as consulting related to archives, museums, and public policy centers.

In his position as ALPLM Executive Director, Mr. Lowe is required to annually submit a Supplemental Statement of Economic Interests form to the Executive Ethics Commission.69 In response to a question on that form as to whether he had held any non-governmental position during the preceding calendar year of 2018, Mr. Lowe’s response dated April 25, 2019 disclosed that he had held an uncompensated position of “Member Advisory Committee” for “Mercury One American Journey Experience.”

Ugh.

There is so much more to this. Just awful on so many levels. Go refill your coffee and marvel at the perfidy of it all.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

25 Comments
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:27 am:

    A lot of folks around here placed most of the blame for the Lincoln Library fiasco with the Foundation. But I heard nearly a year ago that Lowe was a serious problem internally and that he was focused more on playing political games than fixing problems.


  2. - cc alum - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:27 am:

    The Illinois Times ran a story Lowe way back at the beginning of summer when he was still director. They should definitely get some credit for sparking interest in his actions. Gotta support local journalism.


  3. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:27 am:

    And forget which side of the aisle we’re talking about. I can’t imagine a universe in which loaning the freakin Gettysburg Address to some fringe group led by a colorful (I’m being exceedingly generous) talk show host makes any sense whatsoever.


  4. - Honeybear - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:28 am:

    Perfidy indeed. Our states’ greatest treasures at risk.


  5. - Lodestar - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    City Treasurer Melissa Conyears Ervin should have offered the Lincoln Library her taxpayer funded private security to guard the Gettysburg Address.


  6. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:36 am:

    We are so so lucky nothing happened. I cannot believe anyone in that position would ever dream of this.


  7. - Streator Curmudgeon - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:36 am:

    Reality has turned into slapstick.

    Almost every day I find myself asking, “WHAT were they thinking?”


  8. - efudd - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    Lucky it wasn’t returned with some edits.


  9. - Just Observing - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:40 am:

    Hey, when a national treasure like Glenn Beck asks for a favor… you oblige.


  10. - dbk - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    It’s often for pretty dismal reasons like this that IL makes the NYT’s digital front page

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/23/us/gettysburg-address-glenn-beck.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage


  11. - Stella - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:50 am:

    If I were in charge of the FedEx PR department, I would run a promotion saying, “when they wanted to ship their most precious, priceless document, they turned to us!”


  12. - A Jack - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 10:57 am:

    They should have loaned Beck the fake hat instead. That would have been poetic justice, a fake newsman displaying a fake hat and passing the hat off as real.


  13. - Steve Rogers - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 11:00 am:

    Another part of this report admonished the governor for not appointing a Board of Trustees, which probably would have put a stop to the stupidity of loaning a priceless treasure in such a hurried manner. Fortunately, the appointments were rectified, but does anyone know if the Senate has approved the appointments?


  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    For the love of Pete.

    The Glenn Beck angle might be the tasty morsel of ignorance, the rest is flat out arrogance… and lacking the respect of the importance of the piece.


  15. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    Sounds like this firing was well justified.

    Now, who’s gonna take responsibility for that hat?


  16. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    I can’t stand Glen Beck, but that’s not something I’d lend to anyone.


  17. - Jocko - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 12:03 pm:

    In addition to the firing, Alan Lowe should have been forced to wear a sandwich board in front of the museum that read “I let Glenn Beck borrow and manhandle a priceless artifact”.


  18. - Ugh! - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 12:10 pm:

    I fully realize the world has bigger problems than this, but this is infuriating. So Michael Little helps “plan” this and lands softly with Glenn Beck in the end. I’m not a conspiracy theorist typically, but people try to manufacture and trade fakes of everything all the way back to the Dead Sea scrolls, right? Weren’t they slightly worried someone was going to steal this or return a masterfully faked document. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night. I usually see Michael Little around town once in awhile. The question is how do I not tell him what I really think of this and him. And leaving a document unattended in the Capitol too? And then another museum hires him? I just don’t feel like I would have that kind of luck if I messed up this bad once, let alone twice.


  19. - Terry Salad - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    “Lowe, the former director of the George W. Bush Presidential Center who took over at the Springfield museum in July 2016, ignored the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s standard practices for loaning items, according to the inspector general report.”

    Regardless of who he loaned the item to, this alone is a firing offense. Museum people cannot play fast and loose with the artifacts.


  20. - Can - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 12:49 pm:

    Lowe just started his new gig at the American Museum of Science and Energy. I wonder if he’ll be loaning the artifacts of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison to Glenn Beck.


  21. - Bruce Rushton - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 3:36 pm:

    CC Alum,

    Thanks for noticing. We ran a couple stories about this, the first three weeks before an anonymous whistleblower complained to the IG:

    https://www.illinoistimes.com/springfield/a-texas-tale/Content?oid=11482102

    Bruce Rushton
    Illinois Times


  22. - A guy - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 7:20 pm:

    Oy, one of the few things we know is really real in the place and we Uber-ed it.


  23. - Ann - Monday, Nov 25, 19 @ 7:48 pm:

    Bruce Rushton, thanks for the link to your earlier stories. They’re excellent.


  24. - NorthsideNoMore - Tuesday, Nov 26, 19 @ 2:50 am:

    Why cant the Lincon Library management get it right ? Always some goofy controversy (and sometimes costly) jayzus use some common sense people.


  25. - Morningstar - Tuesday, Nov 26, 19 @ 9:48 am:

    “[Lowe] said he was not aware the Historic Preservation Agency board, which was no longer in existence when the loan was made…”

    Barely a peep made about the elimination of the IHPA during Rauner’s administration…doesn’t this bother anyone?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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