Did Obama amplify pork for bundlers?

Barack Obama claims to be a reformer, and even accomplished one particular achievement with the Coburn-Obama bill creating a federal spending database to keep Senators and Representatives accountable for their pork.  Obama may wish he’d accomplished slightly less, as The Next Right has done some checking on Obama’s own earmarks, and found some very interesting connections between fundraising and pork.  The Adler Planetarium has found a lot more money since its trustees began bundling for Obama:

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Frank Clark, stands out amongst Obama supporters. On Sen. Obama’s website, Mr. Clark is listed as a bundler who raised in excess of $200,000 for the Senator’s Presidential campaign. In 2004, Mr. Clark donated $5,000 to the then State Senator Obama’s U.S. Senate bid. In 2005, Mr. Clark became the Chairman of the Board at Adler Planetarium, and in 2006 Sen. Obama earmarked $300,000 to the Planetarium. Then, in the same year that Mr. Clark’s involvement in the Obama campaign skyrocketed to raising an excess of $200,000, Sen. Obama’s earmark for the Adler Planetarium increased tenfold to $3,000,000.

Mr. Clark isn’t the only problematic donor. Two of the Vice Chairmen of the Board, Brian Cressey and Peter Thompson are also significant donors. Between donations from Mr. Thompson and the Cressey household, Sen. Obama received $13,800. The most significant donor here is Mr. Cressey. As a first time donor, Mr. Cressey gave the maximum possible individual donation in essentially one big check. What makes this even more troubling is that Mr. Cressey had never given to Sen. Obama before 2008, the year in which the Adler Planetarium’s earmark increased tenfold.

The fact that three ranking members of the Adler Planetarium’s Board donated huge sums of money (at least $200,000) is interesting by itself. The fact that these enormous contributions came in the same year that Sen. Obama increased their earmark by 900% is truly unsettling.

Unsettling, business as usual, or both? Barack Obama won momentum and eventually his party’s nomination by casting himself as something new, an outsider who could reform Washington. Unfortunately, as this shows, it looks like Obama feels right at home inside the Beltway. He’s already granting taxpayer money as spoils to his bundlers, and he’s only been in the Senate three years.

Of course, if voters really want change, they could elect John McCain. He doesn’t earmark funds at all. Obama offers nothing more than cheap sloganeering on top of a well-seasoned Chicago machine politician.

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