Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Can Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald unseal the records of the Annenberg Challenge?

Chicago Annenberg Challenge Shutdown?
According to this article by Mr. Kurtz, there are 132 boxes, containing 947 files, sealed from the public and currently in the Richard J Dailey library of the University of Chicago. BO was the president of the Annenberg challenge. William Ayers de facto ran the program. Innitially Annenberg foundation donated 50 mln, to be used with 2:1 matching funds. Officially a total of 160 mln was raised. According to the research done by Prof Stanley Diamond of CA, due to fund swap it was 500 mln total. Mr. Fitzgerald has subpoenaed JB Pritzker. From what I recall Pritzkers were big donors of Annenberg challenge. Additionally BO was on the board of Joyce foundation that was also one of the donors for Annenberg challenge. I believe, he was on the board of Woods as well. From what I recall they were big donors as well. I hope Mr. Fitzgerald can get those records from U of Chicago before Mr. Pritzker's grand jury testimony and before those records somehow disappear, just like my case disappeared from the docket of the Supreme court. Was there any other connection between Mr. Pritzker and Obama? Penny Pritzker was the chair of Obama Campaign financing. I wonder if Superior bank, where she worked got TARP money? This ban supposedly was going under due to numerous subprime mortgages. Did they get lown guarantees from the Congress and Senate? We know it was around 7.7 trillion in loan guarantees given in general, how much of it was received by Superior Bank? Maybe Mr. Pritzker can tell which accounting firm did external audit of Annenberg Challenge foundation as well as Annenberg itself? Does stimulus package provide for any financial aid for their foundation or other foundations that donated to Annenberg challenge. Does Mr. Pritzker have an explanation, how could it happen that with 500 million donated to the organization, they had zero results. Student's academic achievement after 6 years of Annenberg were as poor as all the other schools in Chicago. So where did the money go?
It is of concern, because our elected officials just gave 900 Billion of our taxpayer dollars to Obama, the guy that sent 500 million down the drain while being the president of Annenberg Challenge.

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The question of who the donor is and/or who holds formal authority over access to the collection, is also critical. It’s notable that after trying to ascertain this information several times, I have still not received a proper reply. One obvious question is whether Bill Ayers and perhaps even Barack Obama himself may be connected to the donor. Obama began his CAC board chairmanship in early 1995, and stepped down from the chairmanship in late 1999, though he remained on the board until CAC phased itself out of existence in 2001. At that time, CAC handed over its remaining assets to a permanent new institution, the Chicago Public Education Fund. Obama served on this Fund’s “Leadership Council,” from 2001 through 2004, overlapping with council service by Bill Ayers’s father, Thomas, and Ayers’s brother, John. Bill Ayers, as noted, was a CAC founder, its guiding force, and co-chaired CAC’s powerful “collaborative.” CAC appears to have been housed at UIC because of Ayers’s connection to the school.

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So informally, and perhaps formally, it would appear that both Ayers and Obama may be closely connected to the donor of the CAC records. In fact, Ayers himself may be the donor. In raising her belated point about the absence of a signed deed of gift, Ann Weller indicated that she had been alerted to the fact by the donor, and would henceforth be working with the donor to provide access “within the next few weeks.” One can at least speculate that Weller might have been in touch with her UIC colleague, Bill Ayers, either because he actually holds formal authority as donor, or because he is granted de facto authority over the papers by whatever entity has formal control. One can also speculate that, as former CAC board chair, board member, and as an official of CAC’s successor organization, Barack Obama himself might have had, or may still have, some sort of formal or informal role in this process. Could this help explain why I have never received a clear answer to my question about the identity of the donor?

Obama and Annenberg
I expect to follow up this piece with an examination of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and what it suggests about Obama’s personal, financial, and ideological ties with Bill Ayers. I will also discuss what Obama’s CAC connection might suggest about Obama’s links to various radical groups, about the political character of his service at various foundations, and about his leadership record. I treated some of these issues in “Inside Obama’s Acorn,” and have just explored them, using new material, in an article in the current issue of National Review, entitled “Senator Stealth.” Further information on the Obama-Ayers connection can be found in “Barack Obama’s Lost Years.” Of course there is no substitute for access to the CAC records, but at over 60 pages, the extremely detailed “finding aid” to the CAC records by itself provides important new information that helps extend our understanding of Obama’s political past. I will shortly have more to say about what the finding aid reveals. And while there were no major revelations in it, the contents of the folder from the chancellor’s archive are also of some interest.

We already know a good deal about Obama’s service at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. That information paints a disturbing picture, and one sharply at odds with Obama’s claim that Bill Ayers was just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.” A number of bloggers, including, for example, Tom Maguire, at Just One Minute, have done excellent work on the CAC issue. (See here and here.) But the key reporting on the Obama-Ayers connection via the Chicago Annenberg Challenge has been done by Steve Diamond, at Global Labor and Politics. (See especially this important post of June 18, 2008.) Sad to say, the mainstream media has almost entirely ignored the issues so powerfully raised by Diamond, and discussed at length by various bloggers, even though Obama’s service at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge raises serious questions about the veracity of his account of his relationship with Ayers. Access to the CAC records promises to provide a treasure trove of documentary evidence fronting on this and many other critically important issues, from Obama’s policy views, to his political-ideological alliances, to his leadership abilities.

Access and Security
There will be time for substantive discussion later. The immediate concern is to swiftly gain public access to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, and to ensure the security of these documents in the meantime. Despite UIC library’s claim that it hopes to be able to provide access within the next few weeks, the apparently shifting and contradictory character of their reasons for denying access have left me with a low level of confidence in these assurances.

I intend to continue my efforts to examine the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, to take notes, and to order extensive photocopies, to be mailed to me and/or received personally by me, in a timely fashion. I call on the UIC library to take extraordinary steps to secure the documents until such time as this issue is resolved. The public needs clear assurances that none of the CAC records have been, or will be, damaged or removed. I call on UIC library to reveal the name of the donor of the CAC records and/or to specify the person, persons, or body that currently hold authority over these records. I also call on Barack Obama to voice support for the swift release of these records.

Libraries are designed, not to unduly restrict information, but to make it available to an interested public. This country is now mere months away from a momentous presidential election in which a central issue is the political background and character of a relatively young and unknown senator. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge records almost surely contain important information on Senator Obama’s political associations, policy views, ideological leanings, and leadership ability. His role as board chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge is the most important executive experience Obama has held to date. Given this, the public has an urgent right to know what is in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records.

If you agree, then please write to the president of the University of Illinois system, B. Joseph White. Ask him to take immediate public steps to insure the safety of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, to release the identity of the Collection’s donor, and above all to swiftly make the Collection available to me, and to the public at large. You can find an email link for White here. Telephone, fax, and mailing addresses for White’s offices can be found here.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.