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Ray LaHood Resigns From ALPLM Board After Non-Prosecution Agreement Becomes Public

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Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Peoria congressman Ray LaHood

PEORIA – Ray LaHood is no longer the chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Trustees.

Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for Gov. JB Pritzker, said he accepted LaHood’s resignation on Monday morning. Bittner said the museum “is in a far stronger position” than it was a few years ago.

“Governor Pritzker is grateful for Mr. LaHood’s service, and especially his vision in attracting an outstanding and historic new executive director: Christina Shutt,” said Bittner in a prepared statement. “His stewardship of the museum during this pandemic also preserved this remarkable Illinois gem.”

LaHood was named chairman of the ALPLM board in September 2019.

This marks the second recent high-profile split for the ALPLM in a week. Last Thursday, the museum cut ties with its private foundation that handled fundraising. That separation came after years of strife, including controversy over the questionable provenance of a stovepipe hat purchased by the foundation in 2007 as the keynote item of a $25 million trove of Lincoln artifacts.

Former ALPLM director Alan Lowe was fired by Pritzker in 2019 after loaning a copy of the Gettysburg Address to conservative pundit Glenn Beck for $50,000.

LaHood’s own troubles aren’t related to his tenure as chairman of the library board.  The former Republican congressman paid a $40,000 fine to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2019 to settle a federal investigation into his failure to disclose on two government ethics forms a $50,000 loan from an associate of Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury.

The loan dated to 2012, when LaHood was still the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. LaHood reportedly also made misleading statements to FBI special agents investigating Chagoury and his associates about the terms of the loan, and his knowledge of where the money came from.

LaHood also repaid the original loan and cooperated with federal investigators as part of a government non-prosecution agreement.

A Bradley University spokesperson said last week that LaHood still serves on its board of trustees, and  LaHood, a 1971 graduate of Bradley University, was still listed as a board trustee on the university website as of Monday afternoon.

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