Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has released a list of $740 million in earmark requests he made in the past three years, and it includes $1 million for the hospital where his wife Michelle is a vice president.
The request for $1 million for the University of Chicago Medical Center was to help pay for construction of a new pavilion.
“I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Michelle Obama was not part of our lobbying over the request, not in any way,” Kelly Sullivan, another vice president at the medical center, told the New York Times.
In any case, the 2006 request for the hospital was not approved by the Senate, as was about $7 out of every $10 the Illinois senator asked for in earmarks.
Bud he did manage to secure $1.3 million for a high-explosive technology program for the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The program was overseen by General Dynamics, and one of Obama’s top supporters, James Crown — a member of Obama’s national finance committee — serves on the board of General Dynamics.
Obama also secured a $750,000 earmark for renovation of a space center named for Crown’s grandfather, Henry Crown, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
And Obama secured several million dollars for a project at Chicago State University. Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones Jr., a close personal friend of Obama and one of his benefactors, has been a strong supporter of Chicago State, according to the Times.
Other earmarks sought and secured by Obama include more than $10 million for a military arsenal in Rock Island, several million dollars for research on soybean disease and livestock genes, and $100,000 for after-school programs at the Chicago Jesuit Academy.
Michelle Obama is on leave from her job while her husband campaigns for president, but after Barack was elected to congress, she received a big raise.
USA Today reports that officials at the University of Chicago Hospitals told the Chicago Tribune that Michelle is "worth her weight in gold."
"She's terrific," added Michael Riordan, who was president of the hospital in March 2005, when Michelle Obama was promoted to vice president for external affairs and had her annual salary increased from $121,910 to $316,962.
Hospitals spokesman John Easton told the Tribune that Michelle Obama's salary is in line with those of the 16 other vice presidents at the not-for-profit medical center.
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