WASHINGTON – New donors to the Obama Foundation disclosed on Friday include the University of Chicago and foundations connected to film director Steven Spielberg and Disney CEO Robert Iger.
This is the first cash gift the U. of C. has contributed to the Obama Foundation, coming years after the school led the charge to get the Obama Center located near its South Side campus.
The U. of C. donated between $100,001 and $250,000 according to the foundation – though the number is really no more than $200,000.
“The University of Chicago is matching a portion of the Obama Foundation’s activities in community engagement up to $200,000, including its efforts to ensure that the Obama Presidential Center provides broad economic benefits for the South Side and the Chicago region,” a spokesman for the school told the Sun-Times.
The foundation is headquartered in a Hyde Park building in space provided for free by the university.
The Iger Bay Foundation donated at least $1 million.
Willow Bay, Iger’s wife, is the Dean of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. There had been speculation about Iger running for president in 2020 up until Decmber, when Disney acquired 21st Century Fox.
Iger last June stepped down from President Donald Trump’s business advisory council to protest Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate pact.
Spielberg has long been close to former President Barack Obama. His Wunderkinder Foundation gave between $10,000 to $100,000. Spielberg was at the February unveiling of the official portraits of Obama and former first lady Michelle at the National Portrait Gallery.
Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw, were among the donors for the portraits.
The Glenview-based Illinois Tool Works, another new donor, gave between $250,001 to $500,000.
I can only give you the range of the gifts because that’s how the Obama Foundation insists on providing the information each quarter. Revealing only a range – and I have made this criticism before, but I persist – is not consumer friendly.
However, the Obama Foundation voluntarily discloses it contributors every quarter; so knowing more is always better. The foundation usually provides donor giving details in its May annual IRS filing which covers contributions for the previous year.
To date, there are 47 donors who have contributed at least $1 million.
For a complete list of donors, go to Obama.org/contributors.
The foundation has to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to build the Obama Center in Jackson Park and bankroll programming ongoing for more than a year.
The foundation goes before the Chicago Plan Commission in May to seek needed permissions for the museum, office, sport and conference complex, which may house not a presidential library, but a Chicago Public Library branch. A federal review of the project is also ongoing and will take months more to complete.