Friday, July 29, 2011

Was Senator Barack Obama "close" to a Chicago nonprofit that's now under state & federal investigations? I've asked the White House.

UPDATE: On August 7, I received an e-mail from Deputy White House Press Secretary Jamie Smith informing me that she was checking on my inquiry (copied below) and would get back to me ASAP.

Last month, the Huffington Post published Save A Life Foundation Connection Delays (Gery Chico's) Appointment To State Board Of Ed by staff reporter Will Guzzardi that included:
(Chico) wasn't the only one to support SALF: politicians as formidable as Barack Obama and Arne Duncan were close to the group.
Arne Duncan & Carol Spizzirri, 9/2/06 (source)

Per my web page, for years Duncan was indeed close to SALF.

Reportedly he even called SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri "one of my heroes."

Based on the information published last November in the San Diego Reader, you'd think Duncan, now US Secretary of Education, might have set the bar higher.
Spizzirri was a darling of politicians and bureaucrats, although it was a matter of record that she had been convicted twice for shoplifting.
...(It) wasn’t until November of 2006 that ABC 7 News in Chicago, in the first of several broadcasts, exposed more of Spizzirri’s untruthful statements. She had told the station that she was a registered nurse. But the station reported that the institution from which she had claimed to receive her nursing degree had never given her one. A hospital in which she had claimed to be a transplant nurse said she had been a patient care assistant, which is akin to a candy striper.
After the announcer challenged her on the assertion that the accident was a hit-and-run, she walked out of the interview.
Here's that exit scene - take note of the man who leads her off camera.

What about Barack Obama? Was he "close" to SALF, which is reportedly under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General and apparently also by at least one federal agency?

To my knowledge, such a claim is unsupported by the record.

In the HuffPo article, clicking the link attached to his name takes you to this web page from SALF's now-defunct site.

Not much here except some hype about a phone call between Spizzirri and US Senator Obama, and this:
While in the Illinois legislature together, Obama and current Illinois Senate President Emil Jones were always supportive of SALF’s efforts to train Illinois schoolchildren in life-sustaining skills for free.
That's true about Sen. Jones (now retired), who's been called Obama's political "godfather."

For example, on its 2004 & 2005 IRS filings, SALF identified Jones as being on their board.

But that's Senator Jones, not his pupil.

Without question, the most intriguing (and potentially damning) allegation originates from Annabel Melongo, a former SALF employee who since April 2010 has been imprisoned in Cook County Jail on a $300,000 bond.

Annabel Melongo

The charge? Two counts of eavesdropping.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez - who, as reported by the NY Times, has a history of abusive prosecutions using the same dubious law - alleges Melongo committed the heinous act of uploading recordings of two mundane phone calls she had with a court clerk to her now-defunct website.

Tax watchdogs and political opponents may also start adding up the megabucks the spendthrift Alvarez and her co-operative judges are costing county taxpayers in pursuit of such pointless prosecutions.

To the discredit of Chicago media, Melongo's story has gone unreported except by a few bloggers, one of whom received a July 6, 2010 letter in which she wrote:
In my subpoenas, there was no direct email between Obama and Carol Spizzirri. However there’s a manager, Vince Davis, who told employees, through an email, about Obama sponsoring a bill to fuel $10 million or so, I don’t recall the exact amount, to the organization. That was the only and first time I ever saw Obama’s name mentioned in the SALF saga. The email in question was sent in response to employees panicking in the wake of the November 16, 2006 ABC investigative report.
If that turns to be true, then it’s a big story in itself.
Indeed. But I've twice asked Melongo to provide me with a copy of the alleged e-mail and twice she's refused.

In an attempt to separate fact from rumor, this week I tried to obtain some answers.

Kori Schulman

On Monday I phoned the White House switchboard, identified myself as a blogger and was steered to a woman named Kori Schulman. We had a pleasant chat during which she explained that my inquiry didn't fall into her job responsibility, but she courteously offered to forward my e-mail to an appropriate staffer in the White House press office.

My e-mail's copied below. In a future post, I'll let you know what happens.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants to ask Vince Davis for a copy of the alleged $10 million e-mail, here's his LinkedIn page.

Vince Davis

If Davis looks familiar, it may be because he's the guy who interrupted the ABC7 interview with Carol Spizzirri and escorted her off camera.

my 7/25/11 inquiry to the White House re: Barack Obama's relationship to the Save-A-Life Foundation

7/6/10 letter to blogger from inmate Annabel Melongo re: Save-A-Life Foundation, IL politicians, etc.