|Dr. Eric Whitaker with Obama at a Washington Wizards game (AP/Evan Vucci Photo)
Friday, November 07, 2014
Obama Pal Not Cooperating With Feds In Illinois Corruption Case
President Barack Obama became best friends with Dr. Eric Whitaker when the two were both students at Harvard. Dr. Whitaker frequently plays golf with Obama. Thanks to Obama's close relationship with convicted political fixer Tony Rezko, Obama was able to get the now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint Dr. Whitaker as the Director of the Illinois Department of Health. Not surprisingly, during Dr. Whitaker's tenure at the Department, various kickback and bribery schemes occurred in the awarding of grants funded with federal tax dollars. According to the Sun-Times, Dr. Whitaker has become less than cooperative in the ongoing investigation, particularly when it comes to questions about his sexual relationship with his chief of staff, who has already pleaded guilty to stealing $400,000 in a kickback scheme.
Quinshaunta Golden, the niece of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), served as Dr. Whitaker's chief of staff. A Chicago businessman, Leon Dingle, Jr., used his sexual relationship with both Golden and another Department of Health employee, Roxanne Jackson, to get his hands on more than $3 million in federal grant money, which federal prosecutors claim Dingle used for his own use for such things as luxury automobiles and vacation homes, as well as providing kickbacks to Golden and Jackson. Whitaker publicly agreed to cooperate in the ongoing case against Dingle in a Springfield federal court, but federal prosecutors are telling the federal judge handling the case that Whitaker is not cooperating by refusing to answer questions about whether he, too, had a sexual relationship with Golden. The Sun-Times observes that Whitaker has continued to take vacations with President Obama and play golf with him even as he refuses to cooperate with federal investigators in the case as he agreed to do.
According to federal prosecutors, Dingle kicked back about $772,500 of the federal grant money to Jackson, who in turn kicked about half of that money back to Golden. More money was allegedly kicked back to Golden through a security contract offered to a company owned by Jackson's brother. The federal judge has already agreed that prosecutors may offer evidence that Dingle, who is married, was having a sexual relationship with Golden. Dingle is accused by federal prosecutors of offering $10,000 in hush money to another Department of Health employee who found Golden partially undressed with Dingle in her office. Golden is married to a high-paid administrator at the Illinois Lottery. Whitaker insists he had no knowledge of the kickback scheme of which Golden and Jackson now admit they were a part. Ten people have been indicted in this case to date, seven of whom have pleaded guilty, including Jackson and Golden.
Federal prosecutor have placed Dingle and Whitaker together at a health conference in Las Vegas in 2007 where the two attended a Toni Braxton concert at the Flamingo Hotel together. "The government's evidence will establish that Dr. Dingle had unique access to both Golden and Whitaker when the Department was awarding federal grant money to him according to federal prosecutors. That evidence includes a special "Unity Award" that Dingle awarded to Dr. Whitaker while the Department was awarding him grants. Chicago's Down Low Club continues to live up to its name.