WASHINGTON – New million-dollar-plus donors to the Obama Foundation disclosed on Monday include former Microsoft president John Shirley and his wife, Kimberly, and the foundation run by the family of billionaire Chicago real estate tycoon Neil Bluhm, a major fundraiser for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
Also moving up to the million-dollar-plus contributor category is Levi Strauss heir John Goldman and his wife, Marcia; like Bluhm, they also raised a lot of money for Obama’s White House bids.
In 2014, Obama named Goldman to the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The foundation run by Golden State Warriors basketball great Stephen Curry and his wife Ayesha donated between $10,000 to $100,000; the money comes from the auction earlier this year of a set of Curry’s customized basketball shoes.
Curry earmarked the auction money for a program run by the Obama Foundation, My Brothers Keeper Alliance, devoted to helping at-risk young men of color.
In February, Curry auctioned off customized Curry 4 sneakers with the MBK and Foundation logos. Curry, long associated with MBKA – the original version was launched during the Obama presidency — raised $28,000 for the MBKA, the Obama Foundation announced earlier this year.
The National Basketball Association pledged to match the gift.
In all, there were 11 new contributors in the last three months.
New donors for the third quarter giving in the range of $250,001 to $500,000 include former Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides; photographer Felice Frankel and Juggernaut founder and managing partner John Shulman and his wife, Alison, friends of the Obamas.
Foundation fundraising for the third quarter was marked by no significant corporate contributions, a departure from prior quarters.
I don’t read much into the lack of corporate gifts for a single quarter since I hear there are substantial corporate gifts in the pipeline. They just take time to solidify, since usually the corporate honchos insist on some face time with Obama.
The Obama Foundation, like many institutions — from hospitals to museums — will use naming rights to woo jumbo donors. The price list can’t be finalized until the design is done, and the former president and first lady want to approve every detail.
In 2017, the foundation had its best fundraising year, bringing in $232.6 million.
That was revealed in its first-ever annual report, published in August.
I can’t tell you how much was raised last quarter because the Obama Foundation insists on revealing only a range of a donation or written pledge commitment. So a gift listed as “$1 million plus” is likely to be for much more.
I know this because the foundation disclosed last month in its latest annual IRS filing, covering 2017, four separate donations of $25 million each; two gifts of $24 million each and other hefty multi-million dollar contributions or written pledges.
In an unfortunate change of policy, the foundation as of the 990 IRS document filed last month has stopped disclosing the names of its major donors.
The foundation now has a split reporting system, which is neither totally transparent nor consumer-friendly.
Each quarter, names of donors are posted on the foundation website — and that’s it, literally. Just the names, no other ID, such as city of residence, and the range of giving: $1 million plus; $750,001 to $999,999; $500,001 to $750,000 and so forth.
Each year, the mega donations will be disclosed on the 990 IRS filing – but without names attached.
City Hall is demanding the Foundation fund an endowment covering the building costs for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park as part of the deal the City Council will vote on in November.