Why did Obama finally release his list of earmarks? Because he thought it would be a one-day story that would blow over?
Or maybe just to distract from the coverage of Jeremiah Wright?
Dan Riehl finds a request for $62 million for a project at the University of California; University of California employees donated more than $239,000 to Obama in the 2008 election cycle.
From the coverage of the New York Times:
His campaign’s list said the senator had secured $1.3 million of an $8 million request in 2006 for a high-explosive technology program for the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The list said the program was overseen by General Dynamics.
One of Mr. Obama’s top supporters, James S. Crown, serves on the board of General Dynamics, a military contractor. Mr. Crown is a member of Mr. Obama’s national finance committee.
Mr. Obama also secured $750,000 of a $3 million request for renovation of a space center named for Mr. Crown’s grandfather, Henry Crown, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
In addition to the University of Illinois, Mr. Obama secured several million dollars for a project at Chicago State University. Emil Jones Jr., the president of the Illinois State Senate and an early and powerful political benefactor of Mr. Obama’s, has been a dogged champion of Chicago State, and one of Senator Obama’s closest friends. A Chicago businessman, James Reynolds, sits on its board.
But Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, said these requests had all been considered worthwhile by the senator’s staff, and that Mr. Obama never discussed any of them with Mr. Crown, Mr. Jones or Mr. Reynolds.
For most lawmakers, this is business as usual. But it’s harder to convince people you’re going to come in and clean up Washington when you’ve been doling out earmarks to friends, supporters, and donors, just like everybody else.
By the way, regarding the $1 million request for the University of Chicago hospital:
Kelly M. Sullivan, the medical center’s vice president for communications and marketing, noted that Mr. Obama had also requested money for a number of other hospitals in Illinois, and she said any lobbying for the money had been handled by the hospital’s government-affairs officials.
“I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Michelle Obama was not part of our lobbying over the request, not in any way,” Ms. Sullivan said. She said the hospital’s lobbyists often seek help on their own from both of the state’s senators.
Perhaps this is lacking the audacity of hope and succumbing to cynicism and all of that, but I just don’t think that most people will believe that Barack Obama tried to steer a million dollars of taxpayer money to his wife’s employer and that it was never discussed between husband and wife. Public opinion just doesn’t give politicians the benefit of the doubt in circumstances like this.