The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library can’t account for more than 80,000 valuable mementos of Reagan’s White House years — and many items may have been stolen, a new audit reveals.
“We have been told by sources that a person who had access capability removed holdings,” National Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfeld said.
“But we can’t lock in as to what those may be,” he explained, due to the Simi Valley, Calif., facility’s sloppy record-keeping.
About six months ago, an archivist was accused of stealing from the library’s memorabilia collection and was fired, a volunteer at the library told the Los Angeles Times.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, pushed for the audit of presidential libraries.
“This report is a wake-up,” he said. “These papers, records and other items have historical value and should be safeguarded for the education and benefit of future generations of Americans.”
Most gifts given to presidents become the property of the American people and are often stored in the presidential libraries’ museum collections. The Reagan library, for example, has displayed many of the ornamental Western belt buckles given to Reagan by admirers who knew of his fondness for his ranch, the Times reported.
The audit discovered that the Reagan library could not properly account for more than 80,000 of the some 100,000 artifacts and “may have experienced loss or pilferage the scope of which will likely never be known.”
The audit concluded that “adequate management controls were neither implemented nor properly monitored.”
The library has begun a large-scale inventory project that could take years to complete.
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