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Barack Obama hosts $2,000 per person fundraiser at AFT convention hotel while continuing to snub union members who first brought him to office in Illinois

CHICAGO. REGENCY HYATT HOTEL. JULY 11, 2008. At 7:00 p.m. on July 11, 2008, U.S. Senator Barack Obama was hosting a $2,000-a-plate fundraiser at Chicago's Regency Hyatt Hotel, one of the two main hotels for the national convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). While thousands of teachers were kept away from the event by Obama's staff and event planners, Obama posed for photographs (reportedly at $1,000 per photograph) with some of Chicago's wealthier citizens. On July 11, 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama chose to do a fundraiser with some of the wealthiest people in Chicago at the Regency Hyatt Hotel. At the same time, Obama was refusing to appear before the convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and speak directly to the more than 3,000 delegates to the AFT convention (he spoke on Sunday, July 13, via satellite). The teachers' convention was taking place at the same time at the same hotel where Obama did his fundraiser, but teachers were not invited. On the night of July 11, 2008, Obama was posing for photographs at Chicago's Regency Hyatt Hotel with Chicago's wealthy supporters at a cost of $1,000 per picture (and $2,000 donation for admission) at the same hotel where thousands of the delegates to the AFT convention were staying.

Obama didn't always demand two thousand dollars for a handshake or a thousand dollars for a photograph. Nor did he always snub labor unions as "special interests" as he began doing by July 2008. The photograph here was taken less than two years ago in Chicago. On the eve of the November 2006 election, U.S. Senator Barack Obama appeared at a "Labor for Stroger" rally at Chicago's Plumbers Union hall (1340 W. Washington). At the rally, Obama urged Chicago and Cook County voters to elect Todd Stroger (standing in the photograph above behind U.S. Senator Dick Durbin to Obama's left) as President of the Cook County Board. Also on stage with Obama during the "Labor for Stroger" event (above) were Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (obscured behind Senator Durbin), Daley's brother John (a commissioner of Cook County and ward committeeman of the powerful 11th Ward in Chicago), and dozens of other powerful Democratic Party politicians and union leaders. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.


Obama's fundraising event took place in the Regency Hyatt Hotel while AFT delegates were having a party one mile away at the AFT convention site at Navy Pier. The Hyatt hotels are owned by the Pritzker family of Chicago, one of the nation's wealthiest families. Chicago's Penny Pritzker currently serves as Obama's chief fundraiser.

When asked about the fundraiser, Obama's staff members told this reporter that the fundraising event cost $2,000 per plate ("If you eat...") and $1,000 for a photograph with the candidate.

At one point, an Obama staff member told this reporter that "You cannot use any photographs you've taken here..."

Secret Service and Hyatt Hotels security carefully monitored the convention hotel's parking lot until the candidate was driven away from the hotel at approximately 9:20 p.m. in a grey SUV, followed by a second vehicle exactly the same as part of a convoy of Secret Service and Chicago police vehicles.

So far, Obama has made it clear that he will not address the AFT convention in person, but via satellite, as he did the National Education Association (NEA) convention a week earlier. The AFT convention program says that Obama will be addressing the union convention by satellite on Sunday, July 13.



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