SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Tension between the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Abraham Lincoln President Library Foundation flared Thursday as an Illinois House Committee was called to get a better understanding of the issues and concerns both entities have with one another.
Earlier this month, the ALPLM and the foundation cut ties with one another after neither side could come to an agreement on a memorandum of understanding.
The library claimed in the hearing that it tired for several months to come to an agreement with the foundation, but they were met with silence.
"I have to tell you bluntly I’ve never experienced anything close to this level of stonewalling or hostility," said Melissa Coultas, acting executive director for ALPLM.
The foundation stated the MOU was rushed and its edits were disregarded. Erin Mast, CEO, claimed on the eve of the deadline to sign the MOU the document was completely different than what was originally proposed.
"Today marks the 156th anniversary of President Lincoln’s death by assassination," Mast said said to the committee. "That might have ended the war, but as historians know, it did not mark the end of hostility and that sounds sadly familiar to me."
In addition to disagreements with the MOU, ALPLM said it wanted transparency and wanted to know where all of the money the foundation was getting was going. According to Coultas, the museum calculated that for every dollar the foundation would raise, the museum would only get 7 cents of it. The foundation said that wasn’t true, and instead they give nearly 70 cents of the dollar to ALPLM.
Lawmakers in Thursday’s hearing said they were not satisfied and felt this was just a "he said, she said" issue. Rep. Terra Costa-Howard (D) recommended the ALPLM and the foundation get a mediator and leave lawmakers out of it.
"I am troubled by the fact that we as a legislative body are being asked to mediate this and I am still not quite sure what you want us to do – this does not belong in the Illinois House," she said.
Rep. Lamonte Robinson Jr. (D) recommended the committee come back on a later date for a hearing and both the ALPLM and the foundation work out their differences and come to an agreement.
April 15, 2021 at 10:07PM