As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

HHS Sends $5.9 Million to Program Run by Obama Buddy

The Department of Health and Human Services last week announced it had awarded a $5.9 million grant to a University of Chicago Medical Center program tied to Michelle Obama and run by Eric Whitaker, one of President Obama’s closest friends.

The Urban Health Initiative, which received the award, was originally based on a smaller program launched during the last decade by Michelle Obama, who was an executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center before she departed to become first lady. The UHI is headed up by Obama basketball and golf buddy Whitaker, who has known the president since Obama’s days in law school and who also vacations with the first family.

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett also has ties to the UHI. Until resigning to go work at the White House, Jarrett was Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees. And in 2007, a PR firm run by former senior White House adviser and Obama political guru David Axelrod provided provided public relations strategy advice to the UHI, according to the Washington Post.

There is no specific evidence that any of those linked to the Obamas, or the Obamas themselves, influenced the HHS decision to grant the funding to the UHI. But the large award raises questions about appearance, given the number of Obama associates connected to the program and the involvement of the first lady with its founding.

The UHI won out over lots of competition. According to HHS, some 3,000 applications were received for a share on the $1 billion in 3-year grants available. Only 26 programs were included in the first batch of awards doled out.

An HHS spokesperson said that while “final determinations” were made by the HHS’s CMS Innovation Center Director, objective standards were used in selecting the awards and the White House was not “in any way” involved in the selection of grantees.

“Applications that met the basic eligibility requirements underwent a competitive, objective review,” the spokesperson said. “Independent health care expert review panels  from outside government and staff from all across the Department of Health and Human Services reviewed the applications for how well they met the criteria outlined in the grant solicitation, and made recommendations regarding funding . . . scoring was conducted by an independent panel of content experts that was organized by an experienced contractor.”

The awards have been politicized by the administration, which is touting them as part of its “We Can’t Wait” initiative to create jobs by executive action while the White House “waits” for the Republican-led House to act. The Innovation Center was established under Obamacare.

The Urban Health Initiative was founded to help link low-income patients to health providers in their communities.

According to HHS, UHI received the grant to help it, in partnership with other groups, increase patients’ access to health resources by developing an electronic database of health providers that links to electronic health records maintained by “local safety net providers.”

Last week’s award is not the first time money directed toward the UHI has raised red flags. In September, The Daily Caller reported that the private philanthropy of billionaire Obama supporter and donor George Kaiser had donated $10,000 to the UHI during 2009, the same year Kaiser secured the now-infamous $535 million government loan guarantee to failed solar panel maker Solyndra.

205 Responses to HHS Sends $5.9 Million to Program Run by Obama Buddy

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  2. Obama’s pal Eric Whitaker, his Tony Rezko tie
    By Lynn Sweet on October 28, 2008
    With the prospects of Barack Obama winning the White House pretty good, the Sun-Times Watchdog team took a look in the Tuesday paper about a potential Obama administration appointee, pal Eric Whitaker.

    By the Sun-Times Watchdog team
    Dr. Eric Whitaker and Sen. Barack Obama go way back.

    Their friendship began when they were graduate students at Harvard University. Now, Whitaker is one of Obama’s closest advisers.

    Whitaker, 43, of Chicago, often travels with the presidential hopeful on the campaign trail and has vacationed with him in Hawaii.

  3. Wow. The same Eric Whitaker that Obama asked to call Rev. Wright and plead with him to shut his mouth until after election day 2008?

    • Really? I knew someone did but did not know the name.
      New things come out each day that are new to me…learned this morning that Robin Roberts who did his “coming out” interview is not only bl a ck and close personal friend but is also Lesbian.
      One day soon I will stop being surprised…?

    • Heard Ed Klein, author of “The Amateur”, on Hannity’s radio show this afternoon and he reportedly has Rev. Wright on tape saying Eric Whitaker offered him $150K to shut up.

    • Yes, he is. Whitaker and his wife go on every Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii vacation with the Obamas, and they’re at the White House for many long weekends (Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day), when he plays golf with BHO.

  4. Quid. Pro. Quo….

    Even lawyers who are no longer licensed know what that means.

    If you really “review”‘ all Obot lore…you find the SAME couple dozen names over and over and over again. So cozy in all their dealings.

  5. Thanks for putting the spotlight on this story, Keith Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. The timing is interesting because at the same time this story came out last week, it was reported that MO’s old job at the U of C was finally filled. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the woman’s name – but she was another FOB (Friend of Obama). It looks like BO is taking care of his cronies before the election – just in case. These last minute details can be so pesky!

  6. More examples of this corrupt administration. No one challenges this behavior, especially the media so they continue to practice this way without fear of reproach

  7. Author of this article wrote: “Michelle Obama, who was an executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center before she departed to become first lady”. I wish he added that Michelle left a position that didn’t exist before she took it and hasn’t been filled since she left. It must be a very important position that only Michelle could have handled. She is so smart

    • there’s so much more Barry, remember we have to do our own investigating, the lame street press will protect this president regardless of the injustices.

  8. History has shown that whenever a despotic leader fears that he will be overthrown, they will pillage the treasury for themselves, their families, and their friends. I would look for billions of dollars pouring out of the treasury over the next 6-7 months as Obama gets his “golden parachute” in place.

    I re-watched the movie “The Dark Knight” over the weekend, and I couldn’t help but think of our current president as the Joker. In the movie the Joker tells Two-face that he is an agent of chaos, and that is what Obama has been for the past three and a half years, an agent of chaos. He has attempted to everything on its head, simply for the sake of change.

    • “He has attempted to everything on its head, simply for the sake of change.” Should read, “He has attempted to turn everything on its head, simply for the sake of change.”


    • That may be why he’s been campaigning so hyperactively, turning off all fraud controls on his donor sites, and shaking down business owners with his pay to play tactics on governmental contracts. Rather than a golden parachute, I’d like to see him in prison stripes.

      Wouldn’t be surprised if the grifters have to be drug out of the WH kicking and screaming on Romney’s inauguration day. Also need to keep our eyes on the contents of their moving van to insure they don’t steal historic artifacts and graffiti the offices on their way out like the Clintons did.

      • @Susan “Wouldn’t be surprised if the grifters have to be drug out of the WH kicking and screaming on Romney’s inauguration day.”

        Every day that passes, it looks more & more like getting Obama out of the White House in November, ain’t gonna happen. I believe you are looking at the first American dictator. He will not quietly walk away from his life of luxury!

  9. @Ted,MI…

    Michelle Obama’s old position at U of C has been filled by another FOB (Friend of Obama)! Last week -. the same time the check went out to Eric Whittaker. Unfortunately, the link to the article has been pulled – no longer available! I cannot remember the woman’s name and I have searched for another link – but nothing comes up.

  10. Mechelle was rewarded with a $300000 salary. Never having to show up was a plus for her. Her one major accomplishment at this “job” was refusing healthcare to low end income people which left more $$ for those in charge. This is just another slush fund for the dems no differenent than Fannie/Freddie. The only thing tough about any of these bloaded, money grubbing agencies is to come up with names that sound so caring for those less fortunate.

  11. Aaaaaand lemme guess…Eric Whitaker, and his corporation, are going to be HUGE campaign contributors to the Obama Campaign now that they’re flush with taxpayer money. Am I right? Typical Chicago Thuglatics. Thanks to all you 52% that brought this scum into the oval office. It’ll take twenty years to remove the stench.

  12. Another incredibly blatant demonstration of cronyism, fraud and corruption that are all trademarks of the Establishment’s Liberal Socialistic combined DeeemonCrap-Repugnant welfare-WARfare New World-One World Govt-promoting Big Govt Party contaminating our govt here and now. The only solution and/or cure is the candidate with the DR. in front of his name. IMO U No Who Also—the only veteran. Also—the only one witha functioning brain.

    • The real damage is that the truth has been published above. Comments won’t change the facts so much as waste your time and make you angry.

  13. This is great reporting. Reading this, it looks like Keith did the digging and contacted HHS for comment, Great job. All news organizations should follow the Obamacare money in this way and maybe they can get some scoops, too.

  14. Only in the democrat run Chicago, could a patient-dumping scheme designed by Michelle Obama and run with Valarie Jarrett with cover from Axelrod get a federal grant!
    I feel bad for the future Dantae Adams, who was shoved out the emergency room door after having his lip torn off by a dog. His treatment at the University of Chicago Medical facility was a tetenus shot, antibiotics and tylenol.
    That’s the healthcare this administion not only supports, but devised.
    Of course this was in violation of the Emergency Medical Labor and Treatment Act (EMTALA), but hey, that was signed by a Republican!

  15. It is taking a private concern to charge nearly $6M to link low income citizens to health care products, when the States (in this case IL) are also receiving money to do the same exact thing?

    How do you spell, Fraud, Waste and Abuse?

    • I like to spell it as graft and corruption. Chicago politics is the Tammany Hall of the 21st century, and Obama is their Boss Tweed. Here’s hoping the modern day Boss Tweed ends up in prison for the rest of his life like his predecessor.

  16. And where are all of the Liberals? When Bush was in office, you complained endlessly that we went to war to enrich Bush & Chenney’s cronies. So where are the screaming Liberals now when it appears that the show is now on the other/Liberal foot? Amazing how silent the hypocrites are just now.

  17. Wouldn’t this money be better spent on the public hospitals who provide ER services to all ? All this tells me is that if a homeless or uninsured person gets hit by a car across the street from the Obama Hospital, he’ll be transported across town to a public ER “who can better serve” him? Of course, he can die along the way ……. so what they’re setting up is really a death panel :D

  18. This award is just so much bull**it. We’ll never see the results of this program. I’m guessing…lol…that NOTHING will come of it except siphoning the funds into various “pockets”.

  19. U of C medical center… named after the Pritzker family.. and Penny Pritzker was obama’s finanace advisor during his campaign.

    gosh, what a surprise.

  20. Just another example of the Liberal Laundering sCheme that is this administration. What’s $6 mil among friends?
    Our national coffer is getting pilfered daily by this thief and his gang.

  21. From website dated Sep 22, 2011:
    Liberty Alerts, Corruption Chronicles

    More than two months after a Chicago nurse got criminally charged for stealing half a million taxpayer dollars from minority outreach programs one media outlet has dared to reveal that a close friend, advisor and donor of President Obama’s is embroiled in the scandal.

    It’s the taboo portion of the story that’s been ignored by the mainstream media and conveniently omitted in government press releases announcing the June federal indictment a month after it was filed. The one-time director of the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (Margaret Davis) faces two decades in prison for defrauding various state grant programs out of approximately $500,000, according to federal authorities.

    What the feds haven’t revealed is that the state agency that gave Davis all the money, the Illinois Department of Public Health, was run by one of Obama’s closest pals, Dr. Eric Whitaker, when the cash was disbursed. We know this only because Chicago’s conservative-leaning newspaper has been digging around. This week it published a lengthy article connecting the dots between Whitaker and the corruption scheme.

    The state’s convicted felon governor (Rod Blagojevich) appointed Whitaker health director in 2003 after Obama, a state senator at the time, recommended him. During Whitaker’s four-year tenure, the agency spent millions of taxpayer dollars on highly questionable publicity campaigns to educate African-Americans and other minorities about common diseases in their communities, mainly AIDS.

    Nearly $600,000 of it went to Davis and her Black Nurses Association, which received an additional half a million dollars in state grants from other agencies. Whitaker referred to the indicted nurse as “the ultimate advocate for health care and human services” and even gave her a no-bid contract to train college nursing students in administrative areas.

    Similar minority programs, many of them “faith-based,” also received big chunks of taxpayer dollars from Whitaker’s agency while he was in charge. Among them is a defunct AIDS awareness program that has been sued by the Illinois Attorney General’s office for misspending $523,546. Whitaker claims that thousands of grants were distributed when he ran the agency and he “couldn’t have known about the transgressions such as the alleged embezzlement related to a contract with the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association.”

    He seems to have little worries as he enjoys his lucrative, private-sector job. In 2007 Whitaker resigned to join Michelle Obama at the University of Chicago Medical Center where he makes more than $670,000 a year as executive vice president for strategic affiliations and associate dean for community-based research.

    • I wonder what… “where he makes more than $670,000 a year as executive vice president for strategic affiliations and associate dean for community-based research.” really means? Sounds like a really mysterious way to say “community organizer” in the health field (?)

    • “The state’s convicted felon governor (Rod Blagojevich) appointed Whitaker health director in 2003 after Obama, a state senator at the time, recommended him.”

      You don’t have to read this sentence more than once to realize what was going on, Chicago style.

  22. As an example, one of many, Obammy has taken money from NASA to give it to a bunch of ne’er-do-wells to buy votes. The state seals part of our life and then doles it out like water. Get rid of these socialist democrat aholes before they hoist the swastika over the country.

  23. Actually Denise this money would be better used giving it back to the taxpayers who fund this mess or apply it against our monster defecit and debt.
    If this were a Republican President the media would be going bezerk right now this story would be front page headline news. Since it is Obama it is buried in the back of the paper.

  24. More…this is from Citizen Wells:

    Rezko Trial email exchange between David Wilhelm Susan Lichtenstein mentions Obama, More Obama corruption connections revealed, Thomas Balanoff, Dr. Whitaker, and of course Stuart Levine
    Posted on April 15, 2012 | 21 Comments

    Rezko Trial email exchange between David Wilhelm Susan Lichtenstein mentions Obama, More Obama corruption connections revealed, Thomas Balanoff, Dr. Whitaker, and of course Stuart Levine

    “Why did the Illinois Senate Health & Human Services Committee, with Obama as chairman, create and push Bill 1332, “Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act,” early in 2003, which reduced the number of members on the Board from 15 to 9, just prior to rigging by Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich?”…Citizen Wells

    “Why has David Wilhelm supported and protected Obama?”…Citizen Wells

    “I believe I’m more pristine on Rezko than him.”…Rod Blagojevich

    Many of you following Barack Obama’s corruption ties in Chicago during and after the Tony Rezko trial have read exerpts from the email exchanges between Susan Lichtenstein, the former general counsel to Governor Rod Blagojevich and David Wilhelm and others. You have read about Obama’s role as chairman of the IL Senate committee in reducing the number of members of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board from 15 to 9, which allowed it to be rigged with 5 votes. Some of you are aware that Obama was involved in recommendations for the board. More of you now are aware of the ties between Obama and David Wilhelm.

    How many of you have actually seen the email exchanges?

    How many of you are aware of the involvement by Dr. Eric Whitaker and the recommendation of Thomas Balanoff of the SEIU for the board?

    Dr. Eric Whitaker

    From Citizen Wells May 25, 2010.

    “From the Examiner May 25, 2010.

    “In yet another scandal-waiting-to-happen linked to the Obama White House, a close friend, advisor and donor of the president’s is being investigated by federal officials for allegedly misusing public funds on faith-based minority outreach programs while he ran the State of Illinois’ health department.

    With Obama pal Dr. Eric Whitaker at the helm, Illinois spent millions of taxpayer dollars on highly questionable publicity campaigns to educate African-American and other minorities about common diseases such as AIDS and Herpes in their communities.

    Dr. Whitaker was the powerful director of the Illinois Department of Public Health from 2003 to 2007, thanks to a recommendation from his good friend Obama who at the time was a state senator, claims public-interest law group Judicial Watch..

    The federal investigation into Whitaker’s minority health programs has been kept under wraps by the Obama Administration but a Chicago newspaper revealed details after obtaining records under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. However, the leftist President’s sycophants within the national news media continue to cover up misdeeds of “all the President’s men — and women.”

    Federal grand jury subpoenas obtained by Chicago’s local newspaper disclose that the investigation involves “faith-based initiatives” and health-awareness campaigns funded by the Health Department when Whitaker ran the health agency for the criminally indicted former Illinois Governor-turned court jester Rod Blagojevich.”

    “A member of Obama’s tight-knit circle of friends from Chicago’s Hyde Park, Whitaker resigned as Illinois health chief in 2007 to join Michelle Obama as an executive at the University of Chicago.

    In 2008, according to Judicial Watch, Whitaker was a fixture within Obama’s presidential campaign and was considered a valued advisor who also helped the then-senator relieve stress with pickup basketball games during campaign stops.

    Whitaker and Obama have remained close since meeting during graduate school at Harvard and the doctor has donated money — along with radicals such as Bill Ayers — to Obama’s political campaigns.”

    Read more:

    This article was sent to me by a patriot on my email list. However, this is not the first time that Dr. Whitaker’s name has surfaced.

    From Citizen Wells September 1, 2008.

    “From a Chicago Sun-Times article dated August 23, 2008 about
    University of Chicago Medical Center. This is where Michelle Obama
    worked as a $317,000 a year vice president. This also is the hospital that nearly tripled her salary in 2004, just after Barack Obama was elected to the US Senate.
    “Michelle Obama — currently on unpaid leave from her $317,000-a-year job as a vice president of the prestigious hospital”

    “Obama’s top political strategist, David Axelrod, co-owns the firm, ASK Public Strategies, that was hired by the hospital last year to sell the program — called the Urban Health Initiative — to the community as a better alternative for poor patients. Obama’s wife and Valerie Jarrett, an Obama friend and adviser who chairs the medical center’s board, backed the Axelrod firm’s hiring, hospital officials said.”

    “Another Obama adviser and close friend, Dr. Eric Whitaker, took over the Urban Health Initiative when he was hired at U. of C. in October 2007. Whitaker previously had been director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Obama has said he recommended Whitaker for the state job, giving his name to Tony Rezko, who helped Gov. Blagojevich assemble his Cabinet. Rezko, a former fund-raiser for Obama and Blagojevich, was convicted in June on federal corruption charges tied to state deals.”””

  25. The more we are exposed to this guy the more I see a need to take a national shower to scrub the corruption off of us. This administration has corrupted everything from HHS to Intelligence

  26. 5.9 mil goes to his friend, and just watch, 3 mil will be returned to his re-election campaign. Just one of many scams to put money back into his re-election. Scum Obama.

  27. implies Jarrett’s pro-Solyndra position was a result of her “Chicago connections” and

    especially her close ties to the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which controlled 35.7 percent of Solyndra. The foundation had made a sizable donation to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Jarrett once served as chairwoman and where one of Obama’s best friends, Eric Whitaker, is currently executive vice president. Billionaire George Kaiser, one of Obama’s top 2008 campaign fundraising bundlers, visited the White House no fewer than sixteen times, and Jarrett herself met at least three times with Solyndra lobbyists, who pushed for government assistance.

    Read more:

    Keith please look into this, it is so fishy!

  28. I wonder does the hospital that mooochelle worked for still send the poor to other hospitals??? And lets not forget she is one that came up with that.

    Gee I thought the demoRats cared about the poor, Guess it must be other demoRats.

  29. You want to see how it works? Start by doing a search on “Johnny Fairman”. Hospital administrator, with a questionable history. Find his track from Harris County Hospital District in Houston, to Washington at DC General, and onward, and check out his link to Cook County and a mysterious brother who was part of that system. Cronyism is alive and well.

    Good hunting. It is MOST enlightening.