The Latest: Rauner wants figures on Lincoln-artifact debt

November 13, 2018
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FILE - In this June 14, 2007 file photo, Abraham Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hat is photographed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. There's more to a $25 million collection of artifacts related to Abraham Lincoln than a stovepipe hat of questioned authenticity, advocates told a House committee Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in a plea for state money to slice the remaining debt and keep the throng of relics in the 16th president's hometown. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on the Illinois General Assembly’s fall session (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office says it supports a “vibrant” Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum but wants more information before committing state money toward $9 million owed on a collection of 1,500 Lincoln artifacts.

The debt is what’s left of a $23 million loan the museum’s fundraising foundation took 10 years ago to buy the relics. It includes a stovepipe hat whose connection to the 16th president has been called into question.

The foundation wants $5 million in tourism tax funds to encourage other contributors. Foundation CEO Carla Knorowski told a House committee Tuesday that Rauner’s office had committed the money last spring but backed off.

Rauner spokeswoman Elizabeth Tomev says the governor’s office asked for a detailed business plan and other debt-repayment information. She says, “We continue to work to gather relevant information.”


11:15 a.m.

Officials with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation are seeking state tourism money to pay off a $9 million debt on a 1,400-piece collection of Lincoln artifacts purchased in 2007.

The House tourism committee is questioning officials with the organization about the collection and its value because of reports about the authenticity of a stovepipe hat purportedly belonging to the 16th president.

But officials with the fundraising foundation say there’s more to the collection than the hat. Foundation treasurer Sarah Phelan says a recent appraisal of just 40 of the items showed a fair market value of $10 million.

The original loan in 2007 was $23 million. The foundation has paid $13 million toward principal and $8 million in interest.

The foundation says if it can’t pay the balance by October 2019 it will have to auction items .


4:35 a.m.

An Illinois House tourism committee will open the General Assembly’s fall session with questions about the future of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The committee on Tuesday will question officials with the museum. Its fundraising foundation wants state tourism money to help pay off $9 million owed on a decade-old loan used to buy Lincoln artifacts. But questions about the authenticity of a stovepipe hat purportedly belonging to Lincoln have created negative publicity.

The fall session scheduled to consider legislation vetoed by the governor runs through Thursday and Nov. 27-29. Lawmakers might take up vetoes of legislation setting the minimum public-school teacher’s salary at $40,000, barring tobacco sales to those under 21, and raising the limit on awards from the Court of Claims from $100,000 to $2 million.

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