SEPTEMBER 22, 2011
More than two months after a Chicago nurse got criminally charged for stealing half a million taxpayer dollars from minority outreach programs one media outlet has dared to reveal that a close friend, advisor and donor of President Obama’s is embroiled in the scandal.It’s the taboo portion of the story that’s been ignored by the mainstream media and conveniently omitted in government press releases announcing the June federal indictment a month after it was filed. The one-time director of the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association (Margaret Davis) faces two decades in prison for defrauding various state grant programs out of approximately $500,000, according to federal authorities.What the feds haven’t revealed is that the state agency that gave Davis all the money, the Illinois Department of Public Health, was run by one of Obama’s closest pals, Dr. Eric Whitaker, when the cash was disbursed. We know this only because Chicago’s conservative-leaning newspaper has been digging around. This week it published a lengthy article connecting the dots between Whitaker and the corruption scheme.The state’s convicted felon governor (Rod Blagojevich) appointed Whitaker health director in 2003 after Obama, a state senator at the time, recommended him. During Whitaker’s four-year tenure, the agency spentmillions of taxpayer dollars on highly questionable publicity campaigns to educate African-Americans and other minorities about common diseases in their communities, mainly AIDS.Nearly $600,000 of it went to Davis and her Black Nurses Association, which received an additional half a million dollars in state grants from other agencies. Whitaker referred to the indicted nurse as “the ultimate advocate for health care and human services” and even gave her a no-bid contract to train college nursing students in administrative areas.Similar minority programs, many of them “faith-based,” also received big chunks of taxpayer dollars from Whitaker’s agency while he was in charge. Among them is a defunct AIDS awareness program that has been sued by the Illinois Attorney General’s office for misspending $523,546. Whitaker claims that thousands of grants were distributed when he ran the agency and he “couldn’t have known about the transgressions such as the alleged embezzlement related to a contract with the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association.”He seems to have little worries as he enjoys his lucrative, private-sector job. In 2007 Whitaker resigned to join Michelle Obama at the University of Chicago Medical Center where he makes more than $670,000 a year as executive vice president for strategic affiliations and associate dean for community-based research.
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