Bill Clinton picked for Lincoln prize? Really?

Springfield attorney Jon Gray Noll sent the following letter to Wayne Whalen, board chair of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

We are writing you in your capacity as chair of the board of directors concerning the recent selection by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation of William Jefferson Clinton as the recipient of the 2013 Lincoln Leadership Prize.

It is our understanding that the foundation awards this prize to individuals who manifest:
  1. Great strength of character;
  2. Individual conscience; and
  3. An unwavering commitment to the defining principles of democracy.
Prior recipients include former Polish President Lech Walesa, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Astronaut James A. Lovell Jr., and the late television journalist Tim Russert. Each of those selections was excellent and very appropriate based on the criteria for the award.

We cannot say the same as to your recent selection of William Jefferson Clinton. If this writer’s memory serves him well, Mr. Clinton:
  1. Committed perjury and obstruction of justice as to the Monica Lewinsky investigation (1998);
  2. Was impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice (1998);
  3. Forfeited his state law license for five years pursuant to enforcement action by the Supreme Court of Arkansas for his deportment that violated the Rules of Professional Conduct (2001);
  4. Paid a $25,000 fine imposed by the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Ark., for his unethical behavior (2001);
  5. Paid a civil contempt penalty of more than $90,000 to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas for violation of the court’s orders (1999);
  6. Paid more than $850,000 in settlement in the case of Paula Jones v. William Jefferson Clinton (1998);
  7. Surrendered his license to practice before the United States Supreme Court in lieu of disbarment proceedings and potential financial penalties (2001) and;
  8. Lied to the American people directly and through his cabinet officers as to his involvement (1998).
If my statement of the facts that President Clinton has displayed a pattern of ethical challenges is incorrect, please feel free to inform me accordingly.

Certainly no one would argue that Mr. Clinton has an unwavering commitment to the defining principles of democracy. Personally, this writer had no problems with his performance as president. Undoubtedly, he would be an enjoyable person with whom to share a glass of wine or a bottle of beer and discuss his experiences in the White House.

However, as to his strength of character and individual conscience, he is totally and completely lacking. History unequivocally proves that truth.

Given the foundation’s selection of Mr. Clinton for this notable distinction, who can we expect the foundation to select in the future? Rod Blagojevich; Lance Armstrong; or Jesse Jackson Jr.?

We trust you are familiar with these people. Understanding the criteria upon which the foundation selected Mr. Clinton, there could be no question that our dubious candidates would appear to fall well within the parameters for selection that the foundation has established.

With the upcoming dinner honoring Mr. Clinton, we certainly hope that the quality and character of Abraham Lincoln will be revisited when presenting Mr. Clinton the Leadership Prize. When one examines and studies the character traits, honesty and integrity of Abraham Lincoln there is only one person in the world who can match that level of quality of character – William Jefferson Clinton. There, according to the Foundation, is no question about that. But, then again, it might depend what the meaning of “is” is.

By this letter, we are not seeking to criticize individuals like yourself who provide volunteer services to our community. We sincerely appreciate the time, energy and efforts you and the others make on behalf of the Foundation.

Very truly yours,
Jon Gray Noll

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