Obama Foundation staying out of Illinois library funding fray

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WASHINGTON–The Barack Obama Foundation, overseeing the development and fundraising for President Barack Obama’s future library and museum is staying out the controversial State of Illinois funding fray triggered when Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan D-Chicago, in a bid to make sure the facility is located in Chicago, jammed through a committee his proposal for the cash-strapped state to provide $100 million in construction funding. The move was so audacious, even for Madigan, that Republicans–who skipped the hearing where the vote happened–forced a do-over vote, which is happening today.

A foundation spokesman said, “Until the Foundation receives and evaluates proposals, the Foundation does not have the ability to comment or speculate as to any specific matter that is being pursued by unrelated parties.”

Madigan told me he never talked to Foundation co-chair Marty Nesbitt and that spokesman told me Madigan never consulted with anyone at the Foundation.

Meanwhile, on the fundraising front, I reported earlier this month that fundraising started and that Nesbitt said most of the money will be raised about Obama leaves office. “The bulk of the fundraising really won’t take place until after the president finishes his term (at) which time he will be involved in the fundraising, and then we will raise whatever we need to build the library,” Nesbitt told me.The foundation will disclose the names of the initial donors and the amounts they contributed to the public after the end of the second quarter, which wraps up on June 30.

Crain’s Chicago Business Greg Hinz broke the news that donors for now are being asked to contribute no more than $1 million. I’ve been told that the foundation just doesn’t need that much money to run at this stage and did not want to let donors off the hook so early in the game–before they can hear the sales pitch from Obama and perhaps First Lady Michelle that is down the road.

That foundation spokesman told me, “the funding requirements for the Foundation for the duration of the President’s term are likely to be relatively limited, as is the Foundation’s budget during this period. The Foundation is not seeking contributions of more than $1 million from any single potential individual at this time.”

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