Nixon Library to use public money to house archives in shift from what US Archivist envisioned

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Under the presidential library system, libraries receive operating subsidies from the government but are built through private donations, sometimes with help from state and local governments. The Nixon project marks the first time that Uncle Sam is providing funds for new construction before it pays any operating expenses. As recently as last March, Allen Weinstein, head of the National Archives, told library officials in a letter,"The Nixon Foundation is responsible for securing funds for the archival storage addition." The Rev. John H. Taylor, the foundation's executive director, said in a telephone interview that Archives officials"knew when they wrote that letter that we'd be going after federal funding. We had never envisioned any other approach."

Stanley I. Kutler, a University of Wisconsin historian, said the construction money is a return on an investment the foundation made in some of Washington's most expensive lobbyists three years ago in a bid to acquire Nixon's records and win acceptance into the presidential library system. Senior partners Gerald F. Warburg and Gregg L. Hartley of Cassidy & Associates Inc. led the team of four lobbyists, collecting at least $460,000 in fees for their efforts, according to disclosure reports filed with Congress. Warburg worked for then-Senate Democratic Whip Alan Cranston (Calif.), and Hartley is a former chief of staff to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)."This is all lobbyist-driven," Kutler said."The truth is that all presidential libraries have been built with presidentially raised private funds. What is so ironic here is that Richard Nixon bragged that his library was even more different, because not only did he raise the money, but he kept the feds out."

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