A new report from the Illinois Auditor General found problems at the Springfield attraction that tells the story of Lincoln and maintains numerous historic items. Auditor General Frank Mautino’s report, which spans a two year period ending last June, suggested corrections and improvements in 15 areas.
The most glaring of the findings was one that drew considerable attention in 2019 after an Executive Inspector General’s report. It found former ALPLM Director Alan Lowe improperly loaned the state's copy of the Gettysburg Address to talk show host Glenn Beck and his company Mercury One. The document was sent to Texas for what was described as a temporary "pop-up" museum. Lowe and former ALPLM COO Michael Little were also given a free trip to Texas. Little later resigned under scrutiny of the incident and began working for Mercury One.
The audit said that the Museum did not follow policy for loaning out items from the agency. ALPM would not comment directly after the audit was released. In an email, spokesman Chris Wills referred to a statement when the inspector general’s report was initially released.
“The Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation and other Lincoln artifacts are priceless pieces to the people of Illinois, and it is essential to safeguard them for future generations to cherish," the statement said. "The Governor took swift action to address the troubling findings in this report. We look forward to working with newly installed board, along with the team of museum professionals, historians and librarians at the ALPLM to ensure that the institution is meeting our high standards.”
State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) was not surprised by the findings. However, he said that the Museum seems to be on better footing with new leadership in the past year.
“I do think that the museum is really heading in a good direction. Obviously with director Lowe leaving and around the circumstances that he left, was a real issue for the museum. I was really happy to see the museum board finally get up and going with their first meeting,” he said.
The audit also found that the agency failed to exercise proper controls and oversight of numerous financial procedures, ranging from poor tracking of rental and parking fees to handling of petty cash. The audit also showed a missing television at the ALPLM.
“Thorough oversight of tax dollars is vitally important, and this audit identifies some useful procedures that were not put in place when the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was turned into a stand-alone agency in 2017. Some of these procedures have already been adopted in the year since the audit took place. Others are being addressed by the ALPLM's new management team and new Board of Trustees. We thank the auditors for their hard work in helping us tighten our oversight process,” said the written statement from ALPLM.
Butler is hopeful that some of the issues are behind the ALPM now, “and hopefully have a good working relationship with the foundation moving forward to raise funds and, you know, I think it's a good opportunity for charting a new direction."