by Stanley Kurtz

In the process of tracing down the Obama-Ayers connection, I located a large cache of documents housed in the Richard J. Daley Library of the University of Illinois at Chicago. These documents are the internal files of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a small foundation, founded and inspired by Bill Ayers, for which Obama served as board chairman (almost surely at Ayers’s behest). Although the library initially promised me access to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, top library officials mysteriously intervened at the last minute to bar access. There followed a struggle between myself and library officials over my right to examine the documents. Although I cannot know for certain, there is reason to believe that Bill Ayers himself may have been consulted, behind the scenes, as the conflict grew.

The explanations offered by library officials for the last-minute decision to block access to the documents were contradictory and shifting. I cannot say for certain that we are dealing with a politically motivated cover-up, but it seems like a very real possibility. Before my access was cut off, an assistant at the library sent me a “finding aid” for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records — a document of over 60 pages indicating the contents of the 947 file folders in the Collection. The evidence in the finding aid suggest that the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records could provide very important information about Barack Obama’s background and the history of his working relationship with Ayers.

I need public help to gain access to this critically important repository of information. Frankly, since the dispute over access, which played out late last week, I have grown concerned about the security of the documents. Public awareness is probably the best way to reduce the likelihood of documents being damaged or spirited away before I have a chance to break the embargo and gain access to the Collection.

You can read more about the battle over the Chicago Annenberg Collection records in my new NRO piece, “Chicago Annenberg Challenge Shutdown?” Please consider contacting the president of the University of Illinois system, B. Joseph White, to ask him to take immediate public steps to insure the safety of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, to release the identity of the collection’s donor, and above all to swiftly make the collection available to me, and to the public at large. You can find an e-mail link for White here. Telephone, fax, and mailing addresses for White’s offices can be found here