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Obama’s Closest Pal Is Part Of GJ Probe

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

President Obama golfs with Dr. Eric Whitaker in Asheville, N.C., on April 23. Obama says he talked to Tony Rezko about a state job for Whitaker in 2003.

One of Obama’s closest friends part of federal probe

RECORDS SOUGHT | Programs funded by state Health Dept. under Whitaker are targeted

BY DAVE McKINNEY, CHRIS FUSCO AND TIM NOVAK Staff Reporters

May 9, 2010

E-mails and other records of Dr. Eric Whitaker — one of President Obama’s best friends — have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The investigation involves "faith-based initiatives" and health-awareness campaigns funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health when Whitaker ran the agency for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to copies of subpoenas obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Notice how we are only hearing about this investigation because of a FOIA request. The US attorney’s office in Illinois did not announce it.

Obama has said he recommended Whitaker for that job, which Whitaker landed in April 2003. The president’s friend resigned in October 2007 to join Obama’s wife, Michelle, as an executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

On Friday, Whitaker defended his work as the state’s former top health official, saying he developed "new methods" to help "African-American and other minority communities" get better medical care.

"The faith-based outreach programs at issue in this inquiry were recognized during my tenure by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others as national models for increasing awareness and preparedness planning for minority populations," Whitaker said in a statement. "The programs were functioning well when I left the department in 2007."

All told, Gov. Quinn’s administration turned over copies of six subpoenas sent to four state agencies that show authorities have been seeking information about a variety of health-awareness grants and programs that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

One sent to the health department seeks "any and all records" involving "faith-based initiatives" on subjects including "emergency preparedness," "HIV/AIDS," "cervical/breast cancer" and "pandemic flu".

Five subpoenas came from a federal grand jury in Springfield, while the sixth came from a grand jury in Chicago. The most recent is dated March 30.

The U.S. attorney’s offices in Springfield and Chicago declined to comment, as did the White House.

Whitaker and his former chief of staff, Quin Golden, are named in a Nov. 23, 2009, subpoena in which authorities asked state officials to produce their "e-mail and other electronic storage accounts" from "January 2007 to present."

Notice that the US attorney’s office and the White House still refuse to comment on this investigation. Also, note that the subpoenas were sent out back in November of 2009.

Nothing in the subpoenas suggests Whitaker or Golden are targets of the investigation, and a spokesman for the two said they have not been subpoenaed personally or questioned by authorities. Like Whitaker, Golden left her state job to work for the University of Chicago.

Five of the subpoenas seek details about the Let’s Talk, Let’s Test Foundation, an AIDS-awareness group that the Sun-Times revealed last September was the subject of a federal criminal probe. In an interview for that story, Whitaker acknowledged he had reservations about awarding state money to that foundation, which state officials have since alleged improperly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on staff bonuses, football tickets and other items.

"They had the same credentials as the AIDS Foundation of Chicago when they started; it’s a nascent organization that needed support," Whitaker said last September. "Did I have concerns about giving money to a new organization? Sure."

But, Whitaker added, "If you look over the landscape of black-directed HIV organizations, there was no obvious alternative."

So, even though they were an admittedly dodgy operation, Mr. Whitaker felt obligated to grant them millions of dollars because they were “black-directed”?

That’s beautiful.

Whitaker, 45, of Chicago, met Obama when the two were in graduate school at Harvard. He often traveled with the president on the campaign trail and has vacationed with him in Hawaii.

In 2003, Obama — then an Illinois state senator, gave a "glowing" reference for Whitaker to Tony Rezko — the now-convicted political fixer who helped Blagojevich find people to run state agencies.

Obama has said that’s the only time he can recall talking to Rezko — who was a major campaign fund-raiser for him and for Blagojevich — about getting anyone a state job.

Of course, we now know this is untrue, and that Mr. Obama spoke to Mr. Blagojevich several times about having Valerie Jarrett get his vacated Illinois Senate seat.

"Somebody who I do remember talking directly to Tony about was Dr. Eric Whitaker," Obama told the Sun-Times in March 2008. "He and I played basketball together when he was getting his master’s in public health at Harvard, while I was in law school there. He had expressed an interest in that job. I did contact Tony, or Tony contacted me, and I gave him a glowing recommendation because I thought he was outstanding."

It would appear that Mr. Whitaker returned the favor and gave Michelle Obama a $273,618 a year job as vice president of community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. She also got a signing bonus, when she took on this vital ‘community outreach’ job.

A job so vital to the hospital that Mr. Whitaker did away with it, once Mrs. Obama resigned to become First Lady.

Martin Nesbitt, Valerie Jarrett, President Obama, Dr. Eric Whitaker

And, lest we forget, this is the same Eric Whitaker who, together with Michelle Obama, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, developed a program that turned poor people away from the University Of Chicago Hospital – to help their profit margin.

All in all, quite a handy friend.

(Thanks to Nuthingbettertodo for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, May 9th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Obama’s Closest Pal Is Part Of GJ Probe”

  1. nuthingbettertodo says:

    Is there room under the bus?

    One of Obama’s closest friends part of federal probe

    RECORDS SOUGHT | Programs funded by state Health Dept. under Whitaker are targeted

    May 9, 2010

    BY DAVE McKINNEY, CHRIS FUSCO AND TIM NOVAK Staff Reporters

    E-mails and other records of Dr. Eric Whitaker — one of President Obama’s best friends — have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

    The investigation involves “faith-based initiatives” and health-awareness campaigns funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health when Whitaker ran the agency for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to copies of subpoenas obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Act…

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/2250646,CST-NWS-whitaker09.article

  2. Why are these people not behind bars? (I mean the top dog and his “proud of our country now” wife)

  3. proreason says:

    Like our little boy king, Mr. Whitaker appears to live his life without any contact whatsoever with women.

    No mention of a Mrs. Whitaker. No pictures of him with a woman other than Thuderbutt or Valerie Jarrett (but there are only a few hundred thousand pictures on the internet of him).

    It’s passing strange that he should share this in common with the boy king, isn’t it?

    On the other hand, if you take a look at the picture Steve has provided, it’s doesn’t really seem strange at all.

  4. OxyCon says:

    Since everyone likes to give political scandals their own cool sounding names, I’m calling this one “Blackwater” in honor of Whitaker’s fondness for “Black-directed organizations”.


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