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LaHood resigns Lincoln Museum job after loan fine disclosure

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Former Illinois congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has resigned as chairman of the board of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, officials announced Monday.

The move comes days after federal prosecutors in California revealed LaHood paid a fine in 2019 for failing to disclose a $50,000 loan from a foreign national while a member President Barack Obama’s cabinet.

A spokeswoman says Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who appointed LaHood to the post, accepted his resignation.

“Gov. Pritzker is grateful for Mr. LaHood’s service, and especially his vision in attracting an outstanding and historic new executive director: Christina Shutt. His stewardship of the museum during this pandemic also preserved this remarkable Illinois gem,” Emily Bittner said in a statement.

Federal prosecutors last week revealed LaHood paid a $40,000 fine for failing to disclose a loan from Lebanese-Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury. LaHood, denied to FBI agents he received a $50,000 loan from Chagoury through an intermediary until he was shown a copy of the check. He also didn’t tell agents he knew Chagoury was the ultimate source of the loan.

The loan was uncovered during an investigation of Chagoury that was unrelated to LaHood, authorities said. LaHood, who was transportation secretary from 2009 to 2013, was suffering financial difficulties at the time of the loan.

In an agreement with federal prosecutors, LaHood agreed to repay Chagoury and pay the fine.

Prosecutors said they agreed not to prosecute LaHood because of his “willingness to acknowledge and accept responsibility” for his actions, his cooperation with the government, the nature of the offense and “LaHood’s substantial mitigating factors.”

LaHood has declined to comment on the case against him.

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