Star-studded Obama fundraiser in Chicago

October 10, 2008 4:44:25 PM PDT
In the race for the White House, a two-day fundraising event for Democrat Barack Obama began Friday. Oprah Winfrey is among those attending the private women's conference and fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, which is expected to generate several million dollars.

The Obama campaign is shattering every fundraising and voter registration record in American and presidential campaign history, and that is a huge benefit to Barack Obama politically. But along the way, it is also sparking some allegations and investigations of illegalities in both of those key areas, and that is casting a dark cloud over the very creative star-studded big bucks fundraising and voter outreach effort in Chicago over the weekend.

The megawatt star power of Oprah Winfrey was one of the attractions for more than1,000 women from around the country who were in Chicago for the conference and fundraiser that was expected to feature speeches by the talk show host, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama and Senator Obama himself.

"This is purely about Obama, and it's about women coming together and going for the person who's going to represent us and be our voice," said Obama supporter Fancy Samantha.

"[It's about] our right to choice and women's freedom. Not just these, but also education, health care. These are issues that are deeply important to women," said Madhavi Sunder, also an Obama supporter.

"Obama and Biden have a stronger track record on women's health issues. McCain and Palin do not. Equal pay, Obama has a track record of supporting it," another Obama supporter said.

The conference and fundraiser takes place during the same week that Republican Party officials accused the Obama campaign in a federal election complaint of illegal fundraising activities involving foreign nationals and allegedly fictitious donors.

"If we find out any money came in that wasn't supposed to come in, we return it, and this campaign has an extraordinary reputation for how well we've handled and managed our finances," Obama campaign adviser Valerie Jarrett said. "Is it going to slip through now and again? Of course, but we have checks and balances in place to catch it."

Jarrett also downplayed the multiple criminal investigations in Indiana and several other states of alleged voter registration fraud on behalf of Barack Obama by the activist community organization ACORN, which was one of Obama's former law clients.

ACORN has not received one penny from this campaign. And we've had a grassroots campaign. We have volunteers who are working throughout the country. We have a grassroots organization where we haven't had to depend on funding local organizations. We're doing the work ourselves," Jarrett said.

Jarrett said many of the allegations are diversionary tactics by the McCain campaign. The McCain campaign says, however, that they are legitimate issues to raise.

As for the fundraising weekend, anyone who contributed $28,500 to the event has earned the right to attend a private fundraiser Friday night with Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. It's hard to imagine anyone can afford to attend that one, but organizers are saying there will be plenty of people.


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