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Obama, Ayers, and the Politics of Intimidation

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Frank Pastore, from KKLA in Los Angeles, recently interviewed Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, about his research into Barack Obama. Kurtz wrote an article for the New York Post, “O’s Dangerous Pals,” detailing the relationship between Obama and Madeline Talbot, head of ACORN— the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.


Frank Pastore: [ACORN is] involved in election fraud and a number of other things, but in Chicago what Madeline Talbot was doing—and she is actually the person that specializes in doing this—was pressuring financial institutions to make loans to minorities with bad credit ratings, and pressuring financial institutions and banks to do this, or else they couldn’t merge, or do business, or expand, or whatever, so it was really a smack down. And then what happened is these banks were able then to bundle these and sell them to Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae sold them on the international markets and everything was honky dory as long as real estate values continued to go up. But if they flat lined, or began to turn (as they in fact did), then of course these loans defaulted and you ended up with a $700 billion bail out getting voted on in the House of Representatives.

You were involved a couple of weeks ago with something else on WGN radio in Chicago…. Why don’t you lay out what actually happened and your reaction to the whole thing?

Stanley Kurtz: I was scheduled to go on the Milt Rosenberg show, maybe the first or second day after I started looking at those documents in the archives at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and I spoke with a radio producer a few hours before I came out there. He told me that he had called the Obama campaign and had invited them to send a representative on to debate me. He said that they refused to send a representative and they demand that I not be allowed to go on the radio, and when Rosenberg and his people had said that they wouldn’t do that they asked for the name of the—I don’t know whoever was the head of the station was—so they called and demanded I not be allowed on the radio. I knew that when I went down there, but even so I just thought it was some strange oddity. I didn’t take it that seriously, and when I got there I heard from someone that they had already (this was a half hour before I went on) I heard that they had already received 7,000 phone calls demanding that I not be allowed onto the radio. At that point I was sitting in this big lobby at the Chicago Tribune building which is a very famous old building in Chicago, and the whole lining of the lobby is filled with beautiful things chiseled into the stone of about free speech and free press. So, I kind of read those, and took some of them down and used that later on the show. 


Pastore: Yeah, I’ll bet.

Kurtz: So, they took me into the show and they were just inundated with callers demanding that I not be allowed to speak basically. And Milt Rosenberg—you could see that he was very shocked really by this, and he called his producer down twice in the middle of the show to explain what was happening and they figured out this was coming out of the Obama campaign, and…

Pastore: That’s key. It wasn’t just the fact that Stanley Kurtz was going to be on the radio and then there’s this public outcry. It was coordinated and organized. How did you know that it came from the Obama campaign?

Kurtz: Well, the producer figured out—there is something called an Obama Action Wire and it, but I don’t remember all of the details, but I think it called me a “smear merchant,” and it called me a “right-wing hatchet man,” and that people should call up and demand that I not be allowed to speak on the radio. So that’s what they were doing. I have to say, I was a little bit taken back. Frankly, I thought it was also absurd, and I think I’d been born out in this.… At the time I really didn’t feel that upset. I felt that these people were making fools of themselves essentially. And Milt, you know, once he let some of them start talking to me they were just reading their talking points and they kept saying “he’s a liar,” and Milt would say, “What did he say that’s a lie?” and they couldn’t come up with anything. Some of them made some claims that what I said was a lie, but I had some documents right there with me that you know, “Ayers never sat on a board meeting.” I had a document right there that said that Bill Ayers was an ex-officio member of the board—that he was at a meeting with Obama. It was right there on the schedule. So, I just read the document. I felt at the time that they were just making fools of themselves, but you could see that the people in the studio were concerned. And I would have to say that at that point—I mean this is a famous old building and the studios have big windows that are open to the outside—we had to close the blinds. We were a little concerned….


Pastore: Let me ask you the things that they were concerned about. What is it that you have been finding in the University of Illinois archives regarding Barack Obama, his ties with William Ayers, and this Woods Foundation and other things?

Kurtz: They worked together at Woods of course, but this is the foundation that I was researching on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. And it was really created and founded by Bill Ayers and Obama and Ayers jointly ran it. Obama was the Chairman of the Board and Bill Ayers was the head of the other key body there called the Collaborative. But especially during that first year Ayers was an ex-officio member of the board. He sat at board meetings. Obama came over and made presentations before the Collaborative that Ayers was the chairman of. They even worked together in a small group of four people to create the by-laws and form this organization. So, obviously Ayers was more than just a guy who lived in Obama’s neighborhood. But I think the most important thing was not just that they interacted with each other, but that for years that Barack Obama was actually funding Bill Ayers’ radical education activities.

Pastore: I thought it was the other way around.

Kurtz: Oh, no. Barack Obama was chairman of the board. And the board was responsible for doling out the money.  So Bill Ayers’—his own personal educational projects—were actually funded by the foundation. That’s why the Obama campaign says in reply to me “Well, look they were only at board meetings in 1995,” but the reason Ayers had to get off the board after 1995 was because he was getting money from the board…


Pastore: Wow.

Kurtz: And the thing is that Obama and the board kept most of the financial decisions that were made in that first year in place. They may have made a technical separation, but the money kept being funneled to Ayers and his allies.

Pastore: So let me get this right: Barack Obama is the chairman of some board whose responsibilities…or it chooses to distribute money wherever it wants. And it’s funding William Ayers.

Kurtz: Oh, absolutely. And by the way this is 1995. That’s the same year that that report came out … The one that started funneling even more money to Madeline Talbot. By the way, Madeline Talbot got more money from Obama and Annenberg too. Basically, Obama set up the situation at Annenberg so it was supposed to help the schools. They spent about $100 or $150 million to help Chicago schools, but all the studies show that there was no improvement in the schools. What they did was instead of giving money directly to the school, they created a system (Obama and Ayers) where they would give money to what was called “external partners.” And these external partners would work with the schools. Well, who were these external partners? Well, they were community organizer groups like ACORN and the Developing Communities Project. So, what Obama was doing in 1995—which is the same year he started running for office—is channel a lot of money to community organizers and to Bill Ayers, and they ended up helping him later in his political campaigns.

Pastore: How did he get to this place?—where he had access to hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. I mean how does one become invited to become chairman of the board of the Annenberg Foundation?


Kurtz: Well, that’s a great question that I wish I could get the Obama campaign to answer more completely more than what I think they have. When Barack Obama in 1995 was chosen to be chairman of the board of this foundation with many, many millions of dollars, he was pretty much a wet-behind-the-ears lawyer, and ordinarily you would never be put in that sort of position.

Now the Obama campaign claims that his name was suggested by a couple of other foundation presidents who were on a committee there, and that may or not be true. But the truth is that Bill Ayers was the most powerful person on that foundation and he was on that committee that selected the board members. It is extremely unlikely that Obama would have been chosen without Ayers’ say so. And I also published recently an e-mail message I got as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. You can read that message a couple of ways, but I think the most plausible reading is that the fellow who sent it—who used to the executive director of this foundation—was basically admitting to some people that he had been avoiding reporters’ questions about the full story about how Obama got chosen. I wish the press would follow it up, but at least it begins to look as though there might have been a cover up there about Ayers’ rule and choosing Obama in that—to be head of that foundation.

Pastore: You had said that Madeline Talbot who is the head of Chicago ACORN had selected Barack Obama to train her personal staff before he was a lawyer.

Kurtz: Yes, that’s right.


Pastore: What was he really good at before he was a lawyer—in order to train her staff?

Kurtz: Well, he’s … we all know what he’s good at: He’s a very smooth, articulate, intelligent person who makes a very fine presentation and knows how to appear even-handed, even reasonable, as he supports and does some pretty radical, liberal things. That talent was spotted out and Talbot thought to herself, “I want this guy to be training my organizers.”

Pastore: Alright … so you are hot on researching this guy and getting the information out to the American public. There’s got to be attempts to silence you beyond just the Obama campaign. How are you dealing with all of this?

Kurtz: Oh, I’m having a ball. I’m having a ball, but—yeah, I mean it could be people writing insulting things on the Internet and people write you letters that are angry. But that’s par for the course.

Pastore: So are you a right wing hatchet man?

Kurtz: I was actually a lumber jack working for Sarah Palin up in Alaska.

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