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LYNN SWEET: Obama backers’ big bucks boost chance of presidential library in city

Updated: April 5, 2013 6:28AM



WASHINGTON — The Obama campaign released its final list of “bundlers” over the weekend — supporters who raised megabucks to re-elect President Barack Obama — and the abundance of Chicago money muscle, and lack of Hawaiian fund-raising juice, takes away any doubt that the Obama presidential library will end up in Chicago.

Of about 250 bundlers who raised more than $500,000 — counting couples or business associates as one unit — 21 were from Chicago or the suburbs and none were from Obama’s native state, which has been publicly angling for the library. The University of Chicago is waging a covert bid. See the list of Obama’s Illinois super-bundlers at the end of the column; the fourth-quarter list had no local surprises.

This wealthy and well-connected group has very deep pockets, and they are being tapped at present — the library ask will come later — to help bankroll the newly formed Organizing for Action, a nonprofit spawned by the Obama campaign to, in the short term, help push Obama’s second-term agenda on guns, immigration, the budget and climate change, to name a few issues.

The new group already has an office in Washington and another will be in Chicago, where Executive Director Jon Carson will be based.

While the goal is to create, as Carson has said, “the largest grassroots network in the history of politics,” OFA is following a fund-raising model the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 perfected and also wooing big money with offers of exclusive briefings and access to mingle with top figures in the Obama orbit, including the president.

The group is hosting a “Founders Summit” on March 13 at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, with a $50,000 price tag for the daylong event, according to the invitation I saw. A top donor told me that the ask went up in a conference call to $500,000 to land a spot on a “national advisory board.”

After the New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore first reported on OFA’s $500,000 pitch, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked last Monday about Obama administration officials — up to the president — helping to raise money for OFA.

“White House and administration officials will not be raising money for Organizing for Action, and they, while they may appear at appropriate OFA events in their official capacities — they will not be raising money,” Carney said, making a tortured distinction with absolutely no difference.

OBAMA TOP BUNDLERS: From Illinois, raising $500,000 plus for the Obama 2012 campaign are: Neil Bluhm; Wally Brewster and Bob Satawake; Steve Cohen; Les Coney; Kevin Conlon; James Crown; Fred Eychaner; Rajiv Fernando; Vicki and Bruce Heyman; Jill and John Levi; Lee Miller; Chaka Patterson; Penny Pritzker; Laura Ricketts; John Rogers Jr. and Mellody Hobson; Michael Sacks; Andy Schapiro and Tamar Newberger; Amy Singh; David Solow; Alan Solow; Grace Tsao-Wu.

ROBIN KELLY IN D.C.: Robin Kelly, who is poised to become a member of Congress — she won the Democratic primary for the seat vacated by former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and faces only nominal GOP opposition in the April general election — hits Washington Monday. She will attend the big American-Israel Public Affairs Committee conference dinner on Monday; a fund-raiser for freshmen Democratic House members on Tuesday, and a Congressional Black Caucus lunch on Wednesday.

The AIPAC keynoters on Monday will be Vice President Joe Biden, and via satellite, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama visits Israel later this month, the first foreign trip of his second term.



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