LBJ Library photoThe LBJ Library in Austin
Rising costs of presidential libraries have led to massive fundraising campaigns for the increasingly large edifices. Here is a list of presidential libraries, locations, they year they opened, their initial costs and the cost adjusted for inflation.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum ,Hyde Park, NY. opened in 1940 at cost of $376,000. In 2007 dollars that would be $5.5 million.
- Truman Presidential Museum & Library, Independence, Mo. opened in 1957 at a cost of $1.7 million. In 2007 dollars that would be $12.8 million.
- The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene,Kas., opened in 1962 at a cost of $3 million. In 2007 dollars that would be $20.5 million.
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, Boston, Mass., opened in 1979 at a cost of $25 million, which in 2007 dollars would be $78 million.
- Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Austin, Texas, opened in 1971 at cost of $18 million, which in 2007 dollars would be $95 million.
- Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, Yorba Linda, Calif. opened in 1990 at a cost of $25 million, which in 2007 dollars would be $41.3 million. The library was brought under National Archive administration last year.
- Gerald R. Ford Library, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, Mich., opened in 1981 at a total cost of $15.2 million which in 2007 dollars would be $37.7 million
- Jimmy Carter Library & Museum, Atlanta, Ga., opened in 1986 at a cost of $25 million, which in 2007 dollars would be $47 million
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, Calif., opened in 1991, at a cost of $70 million, which in 2007 dollars would be $125 million.
- George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, College Station, Texas opened in 1997 at a cost of $80 million, which in today's dollars would be $104.7 million.
- William J. Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock, Ark., opened in 2004 at a cost of $160 million, which in today's dollars would be $180 million.
- George W. Bush Presidential Library, Dallas Texas, scheduled to open no later than 2016 with a estimated cost of $250 million.
Sources: Benjamin Hufbauer, author of ``Presidential Temples'' the Franklin Rooselt Library website, Gerald R. Ford Library website, and Richard Nixon library website.
-- By Bennett Roth
Costly libraries increase risk of fundraising scandal
Bush Library & MuseumGeorge Herbert Walker Bush chose Texas A&M as a home for his library -- at a fraction of the cost of his son's proposed edifice at SMU.
This is an extended version of Bennett Roth's story that first appeared in the Sunday Houston Chronicle.
When Franklin Roosevelt opened the first presidential library in 1940, the price tag for the relatively modest fieldstone structure on his Hyde Park estate came to $376,000 -- the equivalent of about $5.5 million in current dollars.
Today, as George W. Bush forges ahead with ambitious plans for a library, museum, and policy institute to be built in Dallas at his wife's alma mater, Southern Methodist University, the cost to build this homage to his presidency have risen nearly seventy-fold to a whopping $250 million.
As the costs for these complexes have dramatically escalated, so have the fund-raising pressures. With few rules laid down by Congress and no requirement to disclose the identity of donors, there are increasing opportunities for abuse by those soliciting funds and by those who might want favors in exchange for their multimillion-dollar gifts.
The case of Houston businessman Stephen Payne -- who suggested he could arrange access to White House officials in return for donations to Bush's presidential library -- underscores the weakness of a system that allows anonymous donations from Americans and foreigners alike, according to a leading watchdog group.
"This further shows why we need transparency in library contributions, for the same reason we have it in campaign contributions, so the public can see if there is a relationship between contributions and government action," said Melanie Sloan, the executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW has asked the Justice Department to investigate Payne, who was caught on tape suggesting that the family of a deposed president of a Central Asian country seeking to rehabilitate his reputation contribute to the Bush library.
In an interview with the Chronicle on Monday, Payne strongly denied any wrongdoing and said he was being framed by unethical journalists.
Since Roosevelt, presidents have raised funds privately for construction of their libraries to house their papers, which are taken over by the National Archives once they are completed.
Unlike political campaign contributions, there are no legal limits on the size of the individual donations to the private foundations which foot the bill for these presidential libraries. The foundations can also receive contributions from foreign entities, which are barred from giving to U.S. candidates running for office.
The Bush Presidential Library Foundation did not have fund-raising rules in place at the time of the Payne incident and is now finalizing those rules, said library spokesman Dan Bartlett, former Bush White House communications director.
LBJ Library & MuseumInside the LBJ Library.
Bartlett said the foundation also is finalizing the list of those who will be helping to raise the money. But he said the said that foundation has already adopted a policy of not accepting donations from foreigners while Bush is in office.
The library has distanced itself from Payne, saying he was not authorized to do any fund-raising for the foundation.
"The president is going to be very adamant about those who are going to be fund-raising for the foundation, very clear that we will follow the law and highest ethical standards when asking for money,'' said Bartlett.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that Bush has asked that members of his foundation not tell him the identity of anyone who has written a check or decided not to write a check until after he is no longer president.
She added that "no one is allowed to try to say that there would be official action done under this administration in connection to any contribution that they may or may not make to the library.''
To head his library foundation, the President has tapped Don Evans, his longtime friend from Midland who also served as Commerce Secretary during Bush's first term.
Construction on the library complex is expected to be completed in five years. While the construction costs are estimated to be $250 million, Bartlett said the foundation may need to raise as much as an additional $250 million to cover some operations and an endowment.
But the public may not find out who has written those checks.
The library foundation, as a non-profit, must file a financial statement that includes its donors with the Internal Revenue Service. However, the IRS does not make public the individual contributors, only the overall annual income. The Bush library foundation in 2006, the latest year such filings are available, reported income of $2.7 million and expenses of $60,000. It has not released the sources of that income.
Lawmakers have been trying to increase disclosure of library fund-raising, prompted in part by media reports of foreign donations from Middle Eastern countries, including large contributions by the royal family of Saudi Arabia to the libraries of former President Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
Bill Clinton also came under fire when it was revealed that Denise Rich, ex-wife of a man whom the former president had pardoned, Marc Rich, had given $450,000 toward his $165 million library in Little Rock.
Last year the House approved a measure sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif,, that would require quarterly disclosures of library contributions of $200 or more. The disclosure would begin while the president is in office and continue until the federal government takes over the library, with a minimum disclosure period of four years after the end of the president's term.
Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, recently launched an investigation of Payne's alleged solicitation for the Bush library. In a letter to Payne, Waxman said congressional efforts to force more disclosure of library donations were meant to prevent abuses such as secret donations from companies and foreign interests that seek to influence government action.
While approved overwhelmingly in the House the library disclosure bill has been held up in the Senate, because of the objections from Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who said it is unfair to change rules on Bush so close to the end of his term.
"This administration has complied with the existing procedures,'' Stevens said on the Senate floor earlier this year.``Changing them now would put a greater burden on them than any other past administrations which already finished collecting the majority of donations to their library.''
Stevens has proposed that new disclosure rules go into effect with the next president.
During the recent primaries when Hillary Clinton was being attacked for her husband's unwillingness to make public his library supporters, her opponent Barack Obama, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, called on all presidential libraries to disclose their donors.
The expanded scope and extravagance of these libraries over the years has put more pressure on presidents to run aggressive fund-raising efforts, according to Benjamin Hufbauer, associate professor of art history at the University of Louisville and author of book on presidential libraries entitled ``Presidential Temples.''
"We are talking about massive capital campaigns,'' said Hufbauer, who favors more public disclosure of library donations.
Over the years these library complexes have grown grander, said Hufbauer. He noted that the LBJ Library in Austin, which opened in 1971 at a cost of $18 million included some rich amenities. He said that the former Texas president was "fond of high pressure European showerheads,'' that he included in the library bathrooms that are not on the public tour.
The Reagan library in California recently opened a new pavilion housing a retired Air Force One plane while the Clinton library in Little Rock has private penthouse for the ex-president.
The libraries have also sparked controversy. A number of SMU faculty have protested the creation of a Bush policy institute on campus that they contend would be viewed as partisan and linked to an unpopular president.
George Edwards, a professor of political science at Texas A&M University, said that conflict of interest issues usually arise for presidents who are elected to second terms and start planning for their libraries before they leave office.
The elder Bush's library at Texas A&M, which cost $80 million to build, received large foreign donations from the Saudi family and Kuwait. But Edwards said that Bush was not actively planning for the facility while he was in office because he expected to win a second term.
Edwards, who helped in the effort to bring the Bush library to Texas A&M but was not part of the fund-raising effort, said the foreign donations were more a result of "the huge gratitude towards the president's previous policy,'' which included taking on Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War.
However, Edwards said that it is "probably wise for all presidents to make it clear publicly that noone giving to a library can expect anything in return.''