Missouri lawmakers question artifacts loan to Bass Pro CEO

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TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 05: Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris speaks during a press conference for Stewart-Haas Racing announcing that Bass Pro Shops will sponsor Tony Stewart?s #14 car for 18 races in 2013, including the season-opening Daytona 500, in the media center at Talladega Superspeedway on October 5, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Stewart-Haas Racing)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) –┬áMissouri lawmakers are questioning whether the decision by state Departments of Natural Resources and Conservation officials to loan public artifacts to a private museum owned by the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops amounted to pay-to-play.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Johnny Morris owns Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum in Branson. Morris requested to borrow some of the artifacts from a Missouri State Museum facility for his own museum and later made a $50,000 donation to the state parks foundation.

State parks director Bill Bryan told a House of Representatives panel Thursday that the loan was a private-public partnership. Bryan denies Morris’ donation had anything to do with the loan.

Some panel members say they will look into how the foundation is spending the money Morris contributed.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com