Justice Department to treat Obama’s close friend as a ‘hostile witness’ in fraud case

posted at 10:01 am on December 3, 2014 by Noah Rothman

Dr. Eric Whitaker, a former director of the Illinois Department of Public Health under Gov. Rod Blagojevich, first began to establish a relationship with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama when he worked with the first lady at the University of Chicago Medical Center. They became close, and the future first family could be regularly seen spending leisure time with Whitaker.

Writing in Chicago Magazine in 2013, Carol Felsenthal observed in a clever column that President Barack Obama’s close friend and golf partner “hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.” She noted that this line appeared in virtually every account of the many underhanded affairs with which Whitaker had been closely, but not directly, associated.

Felsenthal observed that a 2011 Chicago Sun-Times investigation revealed that “a range of ‘faith-based initiatives’ and health-outreach programs that were overseen by Dr. Eric Whitaker” were scandalized when they were drained of funds which had been reserved for the needy.

The next day, the Sun-Times’ Fusco and McKinney wrote about an AIDS-awareness program, the nonprofit Working for Togetherness—under the control of the Illinois Department of Public Health then headed by Whitaker—aimed at reaching people in “poor African-American neighborhoods.” In 2004, Fusco and McKinney wrote, “Whitaker’s department and the Illinois Department of Human Services gave Working for Togetherness $150,000 to raise awareness about AIDS in African-American communities by driving around and providing HIV test kits and information.” The attention-grabbing vehicle was a used $45,196 red, fully loaded, and “blinged” Hummer—featuring “game consoles, custom sound, television, DVD, public address, custom paints and tire rims”—bought, at least partly, with state funds.

“Prosecutors allege that of the $1 million in grants [a former director of the National Black Nurses Association Margaret A. Davis] received under Whitaker and other state-agency directors, she siphoned off $500,000 for her personal use,” read a 2013 memo from the Illinois Central District U.S. Attorney’s office revealing that Davis had plead guilty to mail fraud and defrauding state grant programs.

While Michelle Obama was still working at the University of Chicago Medical Center, the convicted fraudster Quinshaunta Golden, Whitaker’s former chief of staff at the Illinois Department of Public Health, also came to work at that hospital. Federal investigators soon discovered that Golden was involved in a kickback scheme that siphoned $433,000 out of public funds and from which Golden had benefited. “It allegedly kept flowing until October 2008,” The Chicago Tribune reported. “By that time, Golden and Whitaker had left state government to work together at the University of Chicago Medical Center.”

“There was no indication in the indictment that Whitaker knew of the wrongdoing,” The Tribune report added.

Now, despite having joined Obama on the golf course and courtside on multiple occasions, Obama’s Justice Department is seeking to treat Whitaker as a “hostile witness” due to his refusal to cooperate in the ongoing trial of Leon Dingle Jr., a Chicago businessman accused of stealing $3 million in taxpayer-funded state grants.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported:

Federal prosecutors filed the hostile-witness motion Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, where Dingle is on trial. They cited three instances in which they said state grant money awarded to Dingle ended up benefiting Whitaker, who hasn’t been charged with any crime.

The motion comes after Whitaker backed off a deal he struck in 2012 to cooperate with authorities investigating fraud involving grants from the Illinois Department of Public Health, which he headed under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

He stopped cooperating after being asked about his relationship with Quinshaunta R. Golden, who was his chief of staff at the state agency and oversaw the awarding of millions of dollars in state grants and contracts to Dingle, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors had questioned Whitaker about whether he’d had a “sexual relationship” with Golden, a lawyer for Dingle revealed at an Oct. 1 pretrial hearing.

In their 13-page motion, prosecutors said Whitaker is “a witness clearly hostile to the government” not only for refusing to cooperate, but also because of his ties to Dingle.

“Whitaker and Golden oversaw the awarding of about $4 million in state grants to Dingle between 2003 and September 2007. Dingle got another $7 million under Whitaker’s successor, Dr. Damon Arnold,” The Sun-Times report continued.

For never having done anything wrong, Eric Whitaker sure knows a lot of criminals and fraudsters. It seems he had no compunction about associating with these individuals closely while he was also spending a lot of time with the President of the United States. Chicago politics was always rather unsavory, but this is a mess. And it could get messier.

If only major newspaper’s weren’t busy assigning foreign affairs reporters to comb through the college musings of fired GOP staffer Elizabeth Lauten after she offended the media in a Facebook post critical of the president’s daughters, the national press might look into something like this.

This post has been updated since its original publication.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

convicted fraudster Quinshaunta Golden

ROFL

Imagine walking around with that tag.

Bishop on December 3, 2014 at 10:05 AM

For never having done anything wrong, Eric Whitaker sure knows a lot of criminals and fraudsters.

Counting the Obamas or not?

But it is easy to see how he became a friend of Barry and Mooch. Patient dumping builds strong bonds among the practitioners.

Happy Nomad on December 3, 2014 at 10:09 AM

I miss Mike Royko:

We must try to preserve the purity of Chicagoese and defend against efforts to cheapen one of the world’s most beautiful languages.

If we don’t, soon people won’t understand what a simple Chicago sentence, such as this, means:

“So this beef comes in from a goo-goo that I asked him to make the drop, but just when it looked like I was gonna be vised, my Chinaman clouted for me downtown and it was all squared.”

Which, in a foreign language, would mean: A complaint was made by a do-gooder that I solicited a bribe from him, but just when it appeared that I would be fired, my sponsor intervened in my behalf, and the complaint was suppressed in City Hall.

cbenoistd on December 3, 2014 at 10:10 AM

“Close friend” becomes “guy in the neighborhood” in 3, 2, 1 …

LashRambo on December 3, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Birds of a feather………….

GarandFan on December 3, 2014 at 10:12 AM

“Close friend” becomes “guy in the neighborhood” in 3, 2, 1 …

LashRambo on December 3, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Yep, quicker than the First Yeti can make a whole lobster disappear without even lubricating it in drawn butter.

Happy Nomad on December 3, 2014 at 10:18 AM

While Michelle Obama was still working at the University of Chicago Medical Center, the convicted fraudster Quinshaunta Golden, Whitaker’s former chief of staff at the Illinois Department of Public Health, also came to work at that hospital. Federal investigators soon discovered that Golden was involved in a kickback scheme that siphoned $433,000 out of public funds and from which Golden had benefited.

Hmmm, is this the case that cost Michelle Obama her law license???

oscarwilde on December 3, 2014 at 10:21 AM

President Barack Obama’s close friend and golf partner “hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.”

Because Dear Liar would hate it if a golf partner was accused of any wrongdoing. And he has access to your tax records. . .

rbj on December 3, 2014 at 10:23 AM

‘Judge me by the people with whom I surround myself.’

– Barack Obama, 2008

OK.

Resist We Much on December 3, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Hmmm, is this the case that cost Michelle Obama her law license???

timing sounds about right, didn’t both Obamas relinquish their licenses prior to Obama making his announcement to run in late 2007?

DanMan on December 3, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Hmmm, is this the case that cost Michelle Obama her law license???

timing sounds about right, didn’t both Obamas relinquish their licenses prior to Obama making his announcement to run in late 2007?

DanMan on December 3, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Relinquish, no. Had revoked yes. They then had the reasons for the revocation sealed, just like all of their other public records. Then they filed for expungement of charges.

oscarwilde on December 3, 2014 at 10:37 AM

‘Judge me by the people with whom I surround myself.’

– Barack Obama, 2008

OK.

Resist We Much on December 3, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Obama Friend, HRC Founder Terry Bean Arrested on Sex Crimes Charges

Flora Duh on December 3, 2014 at 10:39 AM

a former director of the National Black Nurses Association

Another great role model for the black “community” (as Deval Patrick would say)…

Pelosi Schmelosi on December 3, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Because Dear Liar would hate it if a golf partner was accused of any wrongdoing. And he has access to your tax records. . .

rbj on December 3, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Obama golf foursome includes prostitute-mongering childhood friend

Flora Duh on December 3, 2014 at 10:43 AM

A former director of the Illinois Department of Public Health under Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Dr. Eric Whitaker began to be seen together with future President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama when he worked with the first lady at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

First paragraph and it goes downhill from there.

Stopped reading halfway through as it suddenly became obvious this was one of Noah’s gems. Just could not get through all the errors.

Too bad, it looked more interesting than his usual drivel.

gh on December 3, 2014 at 10:46 AM

convicted fraudster Quinshaunta Golden

ROFL

Imagine walking around with that tag.

Bishop on December 3, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Still better than Dr. Harry Beaver, gynecologist.

The Rogue Tomato on December 3, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Funny how just about every “friend” of al-Obama either smells of un-American, pro-islamic racist politics, or the the stink of more routine, criminal financial hanky-panky. But the top dog always skates just beyond reach – almost like every Harvard lawyer since the institution became the Western branch of Moscow University.

That is probably due to the massive infiltration of what used to be a justice system by Communist alumni from the entire Ivy League.

dockywocky on December 3, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Funny how just about every “friend” of al-Obama either smells of un-American, pro-islamic racist politics, or the the stink of more routine, criminal financial hanky-panky.

…it’s called Illinois…most corrupt state in the Nation…

Pelosi Schmelosi on December 3, 2014 at 10:55 AM

‘Judge me by the people with whom I surround myself.’

– Barack Obama, 2008

OK.

Resist We Much on December 3, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Done and done! And, I’ve got to admit, I’m not too surprised with the judgment I’ve made.

Happy Nomad on December 3, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Whitaker is a piker compared to the Fraudster-in-Cheef.

vnvet on December 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM

That’s the purpose of all these Obama government programs, isn’t it? Spreading the money around to the faithful?

If the GOP had any guts they would vote against the $200 million he wants to improve community relations with the police. It’s going to buy his pals some Hummers, and that’s it.

PattyJ on December 3, 2014 at 11:15 AM

The harassment of Lauten is astounding for a free country. The reason Obama wants to shut down Gitmo is so he can use it as a Gulag. If only it had cold, frigid temps it would be perfect!

Herb on December 3, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Tangled web.

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.

Bmore on December 3, 2014 at 11:50 AM

I wonder what his connections are to Tony Rezko.

Another Drew on December 3, 2014 at 1:36 PM

That’s the purpose of all these Obama government programs, isn’t it? Spreading the money around to the faithful?

If the GOP had any guts they would vote against the $200 million he wants to improve community relations with the police. It’s going to buy his pals some Hummers, and that’s it.

PattyJ on December 3, 2014 at 11:15 AM

That’s the purpose of just about every government program; even if they don’t start out that way,they get there pretty fast.
Obama just runs the machine full-bore, because he knows he only has a couple of years to work in.

AesopFan on December 3, 2014 at 3:51 PM

If only major newspaper’s weren’t busy assigning foreign affairs reporters to comb through the college musings of fired GOP staffer Elizabeth Lauten after she offended the media in a Facebook post critical of the president’s daughters, the national press might look into something like this.

No one around here has the right to sneer about other media outlets’ choice of stories so long as Hot Air refuses to cover the murder of Zemir Begic and has an embargo on any stories involving black-on-white crime.

No one.

novaculus on December 3, 2014 at 5:21 PM