Responding to concerns over allegations that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation paid millions for a stovepipe hat that may not have actually belonged to President Abraham Lincoln, State Senator and Legislative Audit Commission Co-Chair Jason Barickman and State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) are calling for an audit to review the financial relationship between the foundation and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM).
“The foundation is asking the state for millions of dollars to cover the purchase of artifacts, including the hat that has been heavily scrutinized,” said Sen. Barickman. “Before we can make a decision on that, we need to better understand the financial connection between the foundation and the ALPLM, as well as what agreements are in place governing purchases made by the foundation.”
“Even after the Illinois House hearing, many questions still remain about the relationship of the Foundation with the Presidential Museum and the money which has been raised for this state agency,” said Representative Butler. “This audit will hopefully shed light on the operations of the foundation and help us plan a path forward to the goal we all desire: ensuring the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a world-class institution.”
Barickman and Butler said that an audit of how state funds were spent will shed light on whether taxpayer money was misspent or mismanaged. The process may help determine if the foundation bought the famed hat from a former member of the board for $6.5 million without first authenticating its true origin.
The audit could also assess the merits of the acquisition of the $25 million Barry and Louise Taper Collection. The foundation secured a loan in order to purchase the pieces; however, a balance of more than $9 million remains. The loan is due in October 2019.
An audit resolution, SR2179 has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Barickman, and an identical resolution, HR1300, has been filed in the House by Rep. Butler. If either is passed by its chamber, the Auditor General will conduct an audit and report his findings to the Legislative Audit Commission.