President Barack Obama's post-presidency plans come with a hefty price tag that could exceed $1 billion, The New York Times is reporting.
Advisers mapping out life after the White House for the president and first lady Michelle Obama are preparing fundraising strategies to raise at least $800 million for the Obama Library and foundation.
That number, according to The Times, is the minimum for an Obama endowment. Obama's lofty plans for a high-tech, digital-first library and worldwide foundation could exceed $1 billion, twice the amount raised by President George W. Bush.
The Times story speculates that Obama’s visit to a federal prison and his eulogy for one of the Charleston church massacre victims indicate the president will focus on criminal justice reform and race relations. He may also pursue diplomatic endeavors with Iran and Cuba.
"His focus is on finishing this job completely, thoroughly," Obama-confidante Valerie Jarrett told The Times.
Oddly, the library, to be built on Chicago's south side, will have an office for the president he likely will rarely use.
The Obamas are expected to stay in Washington until their younger daughter Sasha, 14, finishes school there. Obama also is expected to have an office on the campus of Columbia University in New York City, according to The Times.
A voracious fundraiser, Obama pledged not to actively raise money for his post-presidency plans while still in the White House.
Still, money has been donated — about $5.4 million.
Among the largest donors
were Chicago publisher Fred Eychaner, who gave $1 million, followed by Chicago hedge fund operator Michael Sacks and his wife, Cari, who gave $666,666.
And the Obamas held a dinner at the White House recently for potential donors, though donations were not actively solicited.
Still, the fact that the president will be raising for his library elevates concerns of potential conflicts during his final months in office.
"Is this a problem? Absolutely," Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, told McClatchy's Washington bureau. "Even if he doesn’t solicit himself, (donors) are seeing all kinds of signals that this is a priority for him. It’s all a wink and a nod. ... It buys access."
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