Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Political Museum Creep

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Political Museum Creep

Article excerpt

Never mind urban sprawl. What about political memorabilia sprawl? The subject arises because of a quiet but prickly battle over artifacts that have migrated from the Capitol and House office buildings to assorted libraries and museums devoted to former speakers of the House.

There's a muddle over whether government property - including a Greek urn appraised at $2 million, assorted chandeliers, desks, a speaker's marble podium - belongs to the Congress (read taxpayers) or to the men who once wielded the speaker's gavel. A 1992 law ended the practice of lending items for ex-speakers to use in their home offices. Possession decided decades back is cloudy. The late Sam Rayburn, widely-respected, was given or lent the above-mentioned urn, a historic chandelier, and the podium for his library in Texas. Living, retired speakers Tom Foley and Jim Wright are trying to negotiate retention of all or parts of the furnishings that exited with them to their offices at local universities. …

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