Obama Foundation Walks Fine Line in Efforts to Raise $500 Million

On the campaign trail eight years ago, candidate Barack Obama was delighted to tweak rival Hillary Clinton by highlighting how unfettered fundraising for her husband’s presidential library could undermine trust in government.
Now, Obama faces his own daunting task, trying to raise $500 million or more to build his own presidential library on the south side of Chicago, while keeping his promise to make detailed disclosures and avoid ethical issues that arise when public officials take large donations for personal causes.
The announcement Tuesday that the library will be built at one of two sites in Obama’s hometown will escalate fundraising efforts that got off to a slow start when the Obama Foundation was set up early last year. The foundation has tapped longtime Obama fundraiser Julianna Smoot to oversee fundraising, and the group’s first tax form is expected to be made public early next week.
In its first year, the foundation has accepted contributions from 13 donors — couples, individuals or nonprofits.