Officials Question Society Sponsoring Lincoln Statue

Article excerpt


The organization seeking to seat a life-sized statue of Abraham Lincoln in Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, is misrepresenting itself as a nonprofit enterprise, the Virginia Corporation Commission said.

The United States Historical Society, which in December announced plans to donate and install a bronze statue of Lincoln and his son Tad to commemorate their visit to Richmond two days after the city fell to Union troops in 1865, said in its literature that operating as a nonprofit organization.

An initial uproar against the proposal focused on the propriety of a statue of Lincoln in a Southern state. Recently, however, attention has shifted to the financial dealings of the historical society and its chairman, Robert H. Kline.

The organization advertised the sale of 750 "limited edition" bronze miniatures of the statue, which would sell for $875 each, plus a $25 fee for shipping and handling.

However, the name United States Historical Society is a fictitious appellative owned by a company named FKAO Inc., a for-profit corporation based in Richmond, according to documents obtained by The Washington Times from the Corporation Commission.

The findings confirm suspicions articulated by Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., Virginia Republican, who sent a letter to Fran Mainella, director of the National Park Service, asking her to investigate the matter.

Mr. Goode said he was concerned that the similarly named U.S. Historical Society - a true nonprofit organization that markets historical replicas - is directing payment to its for-profit sister, the United States Historical Society, which exists only in name and is owned by the for-profit corporation, FKAO Inc.

"Will these statuettes represent history or the perpetuation of a fraud on unsuspecting donors around the United States?"

Mr. Goode wrote in his letter to the Park Service, expressing his suspicion that people would purchase the statuettes in the belief that they were supporting a nonprofit enterprise.

Mr. Kline, a Richmond businessman, is chairman of both the U.S. Historical Society and the United States Historical Society.

He is also president of FKAO Inc. FKAO Inc. has changed its name six times since its incorporation as an advertising agency in 1965. …