Obama Hit for Grants

By Brett Lieberman

Published October 08, 2008, issue of October 17, 2008.
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The latest Republican attack line on Barack Obama involves a rabbi who is a relative of the Obama family.

The Republican National Committee is circulating a news release October 7, calling the Democratic presidential nominee to task for awarding $75,000 in grants to a social services agency led by Rabbi Capers Funnye, a black rabbi in Chicago who is also the first cousin once removed of Barack Obama’s wife.

The grants — $50,000 for adult literacy and counseling services, and $25,000 for youth services — went to a group called the Blue Gargoyle in 1999 and 2000, when Obama was an Illinois state senator and Funnye was the group’s executive director, The Associated Press reported.

Both Funnye, chief rabbi of the Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in southwest Chicago, and the Obama campaign, denied that Obama or the group acted improperly in securing the grants.

“State Senator Obama joined other legislators in securing funding for a well-established social services agency in his district that provided job training, employment counseling, and alternative education programs to approximately 1,200 Chicago residents each year,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told AP.

But in the October 7 press release, the RNC accused Obama of hypocrisy, claiming that he attacked special interest politics while showing “No Shame in Doing Favors for Friends & Family”.

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