University of Chicago Medical Center top executive Dr. Eric Whitaker is a busy, busy man.
Here’s a rundown of his schedule since his Chicago pal Barack Obama moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
*Golfed with Obama on his December 2008 Hawaii vacation;
*Played hoops with Obama during a three-day getaway to Chicago in February 2009;
*Attended the Obamas’ first state dinner in November 2009;
*Traveled with Obama to Norway in December 2009 for Nobel Peace Prize ceremony;
*Golfed with Obama on his December 2009 Hawaii vacation;
*Golfed with Obama on his 2009 vacation to Martha’s Vineyard;
*Golfed with the prez at Andrews Air Force Base during his vacation two weeks ago;
*Golfed with Obama on his 2010 Martha’s Vineyard vacay this weekend.
When he does have time to actually do work related to the medical field, it’s to lobby on behalf of Obamacare, natch.
Perhaps Obama’s playmate should be paying more attention at home.
As the Sun-Times reported in May:
E-mails and other records of Dr. Eric Whitaker — one of President Obama’s best friends — have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
The investigation involves “faith-based initiatives” and health-awareness campaigns funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health when Whitaker ran the agency for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to copies of subpoenas obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
Obama has said he recommended Whitaker for that job, which Whitaker landed in April 2003. The president’s friend resigned in October 2007 to join Obama’s wife, Michelle, as an executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
On Friday, Whitaker defended his work as the state’s former top health official, saying he developed “new methods” to help “African-American and other minority communities” get better medical care.
Longtime readers will recall that Whitaker took over First Lady Michelle Obama’s patient-dumping, crony-rewarding scheme at the University of Chicago Medical Center dressed up as a minority health initiative.
Background on the Obama-Whitaker-Rezko connection here. Refresher:
Whitaker’s agency also got caught up in scandal. He oversaw the budget of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, which approves medical construction projects. Rezko and his associates controlled that board, which they used to solicit kickbacks and payoffs, according to testimony at Rezko’s trial.
Rezko was convicted. Whitaker, who said he wasn’t involved in the board’s day-to-day operations, was never accused of any wrongdoing.
“During my time as director of IDPH, I received four or five calls from Tony Rezko seeking my support for and attendance at the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital charity event,” Whitaker said. “After my employment interview, I never had a conversation with Mr. Rezko about the” health department or the planning board.
Whitaker left the state payroll a year ago and joined Obama’s wife Michelle as a high-ranking executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center. When he was hired, U. of C. was seeking permission to expand its children’s hospital — one of five expansions the university sought from the state while Whitaker was health director. All were approved by the planning board. Whitaker and the U. of C. said he had nothing to do with those approvals.
“Whether and to what extent Dr. Whitaker had anything to do with the [approval] process while at IDPH was and is totally irrelevant to his hiring by or his work at the Medical Center,” wrote Susan S. Sher, a medical center attorney.
Sher is now Michelle Obama’s White House chief of staff.
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