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Foundation Nears Goal to Build Reagan Library

November 19, 1988|TRACEY KAPLAN | Times Staff Writer

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has raised more than two-thirds of the $43 million needed to build the Reagan library in eastern Ventura County, according to federal tax records obtained by The Times.

The foundation received nearly $14 million between 1985 and 1987 and obtained pledges for another $20 million. Tax records for 1988 are not yet available.

Construction of the library, which will be the largest and most expensive of the eight presidential libraries, is scheduled to begin next week on a 100-acre site near Simi Valley after a ground-breaking ceremony Monday attended by the President and First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Foundation officials refused to identify any donors, many of whom gave in response to a $2.5-million direct-mail and telemarketing campaign.

William French Smith, former U.S. attorney general and one of several long-time Reagan associates and friends who serve as foundation trustees, said he would not divulge the identity of any donors without obtaining their permission first. French declined to seek permission from donors to release their names, and said some, but not all, had requested anonymity.

Smith said the fund-raising effort was going "pretty well, but we'd like it to go better." Smith said the foundation will continue seeking donations after the library is paid for because it wants to establish an endowment, the purpose of which has not been determined. Smith would not disclose the amount of money sought for the endowment.

The foundation will not pay for running the library. The National Archives and Records Administration, which operates the other presidential libraries with taxpayers' money and, in some cases, admission fees, will run the Reagan library on an annual budget of about $1.5 million, said C. Ronald Kimberling, the foundation's executive director.

Robert Higdon, the foundation's director of finance, said in September that the foundation had received private donations to build the library from more than 100,000 contributors during the last three years. But he declined to comment this week on the fund-raising, other than to say that "it is going well."

Tax records obtained by The Times show that the foundation, a public, nonprofit tax-exempt organization, has been raising money since 1985. By the end of 1987, it listed assets of about $32.9 million, an increase of about $25 million from the year before.

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