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WASHINGTON — The Barack Obama Foundation and Organizing for Action, spawned from President Barack Obama’s campaigns, disclosed its latest donations on Friday, with neither of the Chicago organizations reaping in giant contributions.

OFA does a much better job of disclosure than the foundation. OFA is straightforward, so you can usually figure out who gives what when. The foundation has a ridiculous quarterly disclosure system designed to obfuscate.

Two Obama legacy organizations. Two policies on disclosure and transparency.

One good. One bad.

The OFA, located in the West Loop, in the fourth quarter raised $1,288,411. The OFA lists on its website how much each donor over $250 gives by quarter and provides the city and state for a contributor. OFA, as a rule, believes it is in the public interest to avoid any confusion over a donor identity.

The biggest OFA donor for 2015 is Philip Munger, a major Democratic donor and philanthropist from New York who gave $2 million to OFA. The next largest contribution, $50,000 came from John Atkinson, the Willis Group Managing partner from suburban Burr Ridge who is a major Democratic donor, especially active in helping Illinois Democrats.

In May, I reported ”after raising $5.4 million in 2014, the Chicago-based Barack Obama foundation is scaling back its fundraising this year and dropping the use of an outside fundraising firm.” The foundation decided not to fundraise much off the announcement in May that the Obama Center will be built on the city’s South Side.

Instead, the big push for hundreds of millions of dollars to build and endow the center will come after Obama and first lady Michelle leave office next year. The foundation does not need all that much money now – its main expenses are for consultants and staff working on site and architect selection.

OPINION


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The disclosure on Friday covering the last quarter of 2015 suggests that the foundation’s total haul for that year will be about $2 million, most from existing contributors who either paid on pledges or just decided to throw more in the pot.

I can’t be more specific because the foundation lists names and broad ranges of giving – between $500,001 and $1 million; $250,001 to $500,000; $100,001 to $250,000, and $200 to $100,000.

Pretty crazy.

In the $500,001 to $1 million category: Most of the 2015 fresh cash came from folks who already have been giving to the foundation. That’s Scott Miller and Tim Gill, the founder of Quark Inc., and the couple’s Gill Foundation, based in Denver.

The Joyce Foundation, headquartered in Chicago, made a payment towards it pledged $1 million, with the first payment delivered in 2014. Ian Simmons through ImpactAssets Donor Advised Fund also sent in more cash. Simmons wife, former Chicagoan Liesel Pritzker, is the cousin of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

Others in the $200 to $100,000 range: Nicholas Alexos, a Chicago business executive, the Virginia-based Lawrence Z. and Jaqueline A. Stern Foundation, Alison and John Shulman, and Sheila Anderson.

The foundation files an IRS tax form 990 each year listing the donors and their precise contributions. The 990 for the 2014 tax year was released last May.

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