Documents obtained by The Daily Caller show that President Barack Obama’s close friend Eric Whitaker, who runs the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Urban Health Initiative, spoke at Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Chicago-area church in 2006.
Whitaker was a speaker at Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ during a Sept. 17, 2006 “Health Care Justice Forum,” according to a church bulletin TheDC obtained. The bulletin is no longer on the church’s website.
Whitaker made headline news Monday when New York Times bestselling author Edward Klein alleged during a radio interview with Sean Hannity that Whitaker offered Wright $150,000 to stay silent during Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Wright, an infamous weight on Obama’s campaign, refused Whitaker’s offer, according to Klein. He documented the episode in his book “The Amateur.”
Before becoming affiliated with the University of Chicago, Whitaker was director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Then-Sen. Barack Obama helped him get that job: According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama called former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s political fixer, Tony Rezko, to recommend hi.. Today, Rezko is serving a prison sentence for his illegal activities on Blagojevich’s behalf.
“Somebody who I do remember talking directly to Tony about was Dr. Eric Whitaker,” Obama said when questioned about his potential involvement with Blagojevich’s crimes. “He and I played basketball together when he was getting his master’s in public health at Harvard, while I was in law school there. He had expressed an interest in that job. I did contact Tony, or Tony contacted me, and I gave him a glowing recommendation because I thought he was outstanding.”
When Whitaker spoke at Wright’s church in 2006, he was doing so in his capacity as Illinois’ top public health official. The event was called “Health Care Justice: God’s Requirement.” (RELATED: Longtime Obama pal Whitaker keeps popping up)
Shortly after that speech, longtime Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett recruited Whitaker to be executive vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was the board chairwoman. Michelle Obama also held a leadership post at there, and helped create the Center’s Urban Health Initiative. According to The Washington Post, David Axelrod, another Obama confidante, worked with the center as well.
When the Obamas moved to Washington in 2009, Whitaker took over Mrs. Obama’s leadership of the Urban Health Initiative.
The program — one that Obama’s inner circle says helps to ensure low-income and minority patients don’t overcrowd emergency rooms when their conditions don’t warrant emergency room treatment — is just a glorified “patient dumping” scheme, according to Dr. Nick Jouriles, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.