Obama commerce pick funded Ayers’ pet project

By Aaron Klein

A charity run by Penny Pritzker, President Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary, donated to an academic institution associated with Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

Pritzker’s family has further donated more than $1.5 million to the Chicago school, the Erikson Institute, which focuses on training people who work in early childhood development.

The institute was previously run by the mother of top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. In 2009, it was awarded just shy of $5 million from Obama’s so-called stimulus legislation.

From 1993 to 2002, Pritzker served as director of the Pritzker Cousins Foundation, which split into various family charities in 2002. In 2000, the foundation awarded $50,000 to the Erickson Institute.

The institute has also received major financial support from the Pritzker Family Foundation, run by Penny Pritzker’s brother, J.B. Pritzker. Documentation obtained by WND shows more than $1.5 million awarded to Erickson since 2008.

One of the three faculty founders is Barbara Taylor Bowman, the institute’s Irving B. Harris professor of child development. Bowman, who was president of the institute from 1994 to 2001, is the mother of Valerie Jarrett.

One of the Erikson Institute’s former trustees and members of the executive committee is the late Thomas Ayers, father of Bill Ayers.

Dohrn, Bill Ayers’ wife, also served on the Erikson board.

In his 1998 book, “A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court,” Bill Ayers calls Bowman a “neighbor and a friend.”

Obama and Bill Ayers once funded Erikson. The Erikson Institute was among the first 35 school partnerships awarded funds in December 1995 by the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Ayers was a founder of the Annenberg Challenge; Obama was hired in 1995 as the group’s first chairman.

Obama and Ayers worked on education together beginning in 1988 or earlier. That year, in response to a Chicago summit that documented the poor quality of education in the city, Chicago United, a group founded by Ayers’ father, formed a community advocacy coalition called the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools, or ABCs. Thomas Ayers was the chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison.

When he created his ABCs Coalition in June 1988, Thomas Ayers included Obama in the coalition. Obama at the time was director and lead organizer of the Developing Communities Project, or DCP, an institutionally based community organization on Chicago’s Far South Side. Obama’s first job in Chicago was his DCP position.

The contact for the ABCs Coalition, for which Obama served, was Bill Ayers himself, who at the time was at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.

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