You are on page 1of 3

Myths vs.

Facts
Myth: The Foundation is unwilling to negotiate/stalled negotiating a new Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU).

Fact: The Foundation has consistently negotiated in good faith with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library and Museum (ALPLM). The ALPLM first formally declared in late November 2020 that it wanted
a new MOU after five years with the existing one. The Foundation suggested waiting until both the
Foundation and ALPLM had new permanent leaders since both roles were then vacant and those
individuals would be the ones to live with a new MOU. The ALPLM refused.

At ALPLM’s insistence, negotiations began in December 2020, with the ALPLM putting forward a 22-page
draft MOU that was a significant departure from the existing seven-page MOU and put the Foundation
under the substantial control of state government. Discussions about process occurred in January.
Discussions concerning the MOU were held between the parties on February 16 and March 5, after
which the Foundation submitted its suggested revisions to the MOU on March 15. The ALPLM rejected
all of the Foundation’s substantive changes in a response on March 19.

The Foundation sent a detailed letter and memo in reply on March 26, expressing its concern that the
parties were too far apart to agree on a new MOU before the March 31 deadline and suggested a
discussion was needed. Instead of agreeing to a conversation or an extension to facilitate that
discussion, ALPLM sent an entirely new MOU on March 30, which the Foundation received on March 31.
The new MOU placed even more state control over the Foundation and was accompanied by a demand
that it be signed immediately or else the ALPLM would implement a series of punitive actions.

The new MOU responded to none of the Foundation’s concerns. The Foundation asked for time to
consider the implications of this entirely new draft on March 31. Again, the ALPLM refused the time
extension. It then announced publicly it had severed their relationship with the Foundation, began
soliciting its donors and imposed a series of punitive actions on the Foundation.

Myth: The ALPLM has done everything properly/”by the book.”

Fact: The Illinois Museum Act requires that MOUs be in place for a calendar year. The ALPLM has
insisted on dates with different - and often immediate - deadlines.

In addition, the Illinois Museum Act requires mutual cooperation between the Museum and Foundation.
This included, among other requirements, that a Working Group made up of three members of each
board be named to collaborate to advance the interests of the Library and Museum along with other
steps that would “serve to align and guide the efforts of both the (Library and Museum) and the
Foundation.” The Foundation identified its members in August 2019 and asked that the ALPLM do the
same. The ALPLM has refused to appoint its members.

Myth: The ALPLM has been perfectly reasonable in its negotiations with the Foundation.

Fact: Throughout the negotiations, the ALPLM has insisted that the Foundation accept substantially all
of its terms in a new MOU and has been unwilling to consider the vast majority of the Foundation’s
proposals.

1
The ALPLM has been uncooperative in extending any deadlines, and, in fact, threatened a series of
punitive actions in writing on January 31 if a new MOU were not agreed to that day. Even when it was
clear that the ALPLM and the Foundation were far apart at the end of March, instead of continuing to
negotiate, the ALPLM abruptly cut off negotiations, and took the threatened actions (and more) against
the Foundation. These actions included locking the Foundation out of its database, preparing to evict
the Foundation at the end of April, cutting off the Foundation from fundraising at the Museum and
denying new Foundation members from a valued benefit (free admission to the Museum).

Myth: The Foundation lacks financial transparency/accountability.

Fact: The Foundation undergoes rigorous annual third-party audits and has never had a single audit
finding (negative issue) since its first audit in 2002. The auditors submit the Foundation’s annual 990 tax
form to the IRS where they are publicly available on the IRS and other websites. The 990 information
and annual third-party audit are also filed with the Charitable Trust Bureau of the Illinois Attorney
General, where they are publicly available through the Bureau's website, and are also available on the
Foundation’s website.

The Foundation’s detailed quarterly financial records are discussed at Foundation board meetings four
times a year to which three ex officio board members from the Illinois General Assembly and the ALPLM
Executive Director are invited to attend.

Since its inception, the Foundation has had a fiduciary Board of directors made up of volunteers with
significant expertise in business, non-profit, and government sectors. The Foundation Board has a
robust committee structure including Audit and Finance Committees.

Myth: The Library and Museum displays strong financial transparency/accountability and governance.

Fact: The ALPLM’s financial records are only seen by the public once a year in the form of an annual
budget submitted to and approved by the Illinois General Assembly and/or only in response to Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The ALPLM had 15 audit findings, detailing financial mismanagement, in its first audit as a stand-alone
agency publicly released in April 2020. Of note, one of the findings pointed to the fact that the ALPLM
leaves checks (including funds sent by the Foundation) uncashed for months. While the ALPLM was
under the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the ALPLM had no dedicated board/oversight from 2015-
2017. Once ALPLM became an independent agency in July 2017, a board was required by statute. The
board was not formed for more than two years (September 2019) and did not convene until January
2020.

Myth: ALPLM doesn’t receive any (or only minimal) funds/support from the Foundation.

Fact: In FY20, a year challenged by the global pandemic, 70 cents of every dollar supported expenses for
ALPLM, for a total of nearly $1.8 million. This is easily calculated from the Foundation’s public 990,
which was completed by an independent audit firm. The Foundation has generated substantial support
on behalf of ALPLM every single year since its inception, amounting to over $42 million since opening or
an average of $2.8 million in any given year. The Foundation pays many ALPLM-requested expenses
directly in addition to sending support for specific, documented requests. Invoices from the ALPLM fiscal
department are routinely sent to the Foundation controller to be paid.

2
In Fiscal Year2020, the Foundation spent to benefit the ALPLM almost $1.8 million in revenue:

• $1,324,000 from donations


• $451,000 from contract royalties (generated and managed at no expense to the state)

There is also a pattern of ALPLM canceling projects for which the Foundation raised targeted funds at
the Museum’s request. Examples include canceling a theatrical performance in December of 2018 and
canceling an exhibit in December of 2019, following the firing of its then Executive Director. ALPLM then
asked the Foundation to switch the raised funds to a traveling exhibit: “Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear
and Freedom in America.” The Foundation’s donor declined to transfer its support to the different
exhibit. ALPLM pursued the “Spies” exhibit anyway, only to be forced to cancel it seven months later
due to negative public pressure. One of its own board members was quoted in the press describing the
exhibit as “offensive.” ALPLM’s poor track record in planning and follow-through was one of many
reasons why, in MOU negotiations, the Foundation proposed a more informative process for the ALPLM
to provide complete information regarding its funding requests. This way, the Foundation could have all
the necessary information any funder would require in deciding whether to support a project. This
proposal was one of many Foundation proposals rejected by ALPLM.

Myth: It was the Foundation’s sole decision to buy the Taper Collection and it has been a distraction
ever since.

Fact: Two successive ALPLM Executive Directors and the Illinois State Historian, all state employees,
urged the Foundation (the first request coming in 2002) to purchase the Taper Collection, which the
Foundation ultimately agreed to do in 2007. The ALPLM leadership historically made it clear to the
Foundation that the collection is a top funding priority, one the Foundation has maintained ever since.
Fundraising to retire the debt and fund ALPLM programming are both rigorous and occur on a
continuous basis.

The Foundation has diligently raised funds to retire the $25 million Taper Collection acquisition loan
ever since. Over $24 million has been raised toward the payment of debt service (principal, interest and
fees) and insurance coverage to date, and an $8.7 million loan principal remains. The 1,400+-piece
collection has been on loan to and a substantial benefit to ALPLM and the public ever since its
acquisition.

The Foundation has also raised money for numerous other programs that benefit the ALPLM, as
described above.

Myth: The Foundation won’t even agree to regular meetings/discussions with the ALPLM.

Fact: Until the ALPLM abruptly cut off negotiations, locked the Foundation out of its own database and
prepared to evict the Foundation, the Foundation and ALPLM senior staff interacted regularly, including
at the Foundation’s quarterly board meetings and other times throughout the year. At a staff level,
representatives of the Foundation and ALPLM were in almost daily interaction before the ALPLM ended
the Foundation’s access.