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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - As a state senator, Democrat Barack Obama awarded $75,000 in government grants to a Chicago social service organization led by a rabbi who is also his wife's cousin, records show. ...
...But guidelines were practically nonexistent.
At the time, Illinois legislators were handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in grants. The money was part of a deal that legislative leaders cut with the governor to approve a major public-works program.
Each legislator could award money to favored groups and projects with basically no oversight. The grants were known as "member initiatives" and were similar to the congressional "earmarks" often criticized in Obama's presidential campaign against Republican John McCain.
Obama awarded about $6 million for everything from literacy programs and park improvements to drill team uniforms and jazz appreciation events. (more)