Barack Obama and William Ayers-Truth!

Controversy Over Senator Obama’s Relationship With William AyersTruth!

Summary of eRumor:

An eRumor claiming that Senator Barack Obama had a long association with a known domestic terrorist by the name of William Ayers who took part in the bombing of the Pentagon

The Truth:

Ayers was a founding member of a radical group known at the Weather Underground that carried out bombings of federal buildings including the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol in the 1960’s. It was in protest of the Vietnam war. Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohm spent a decade as fugitives from the FBI, which classed the Weather Underground as a “domestic terrorist group.” They resurfaced in 1980 after charges against them were dropped because of misconduct in collecting evidence against them. They both became professors in Chicago where Ayers was an education professor at the time that he became a campaign controversy in 2008. Ayers has been unrepentant about his Weather Underground activities and has been quoted as saying they “didn’t do enough.”

The nature of Barack Obama’s relationship with William Ayers was a subject talked about among his critics during the 2008 presidential campaign, but it became a major issue when Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin brought it to the campaign trail in a speech in California on October 4, 2008. She said, “”Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.”

Supporters of Obama said that contact between the two men was not that significant and pointed to a New York Times story that said their relationship consisted of attending board meetings of two Chicago organizations they were involved with and other than that, there had been no contact between them except bumping into each other on the sidewalk in the neighborhood in which they both lived. Obama’s “Fight the Smears” web site called the accusations about the Obama-Ayers connection “phony, tenuous, and exaggerated at best, if not outright false.” The Obama site accused his critics of trying to link him with terrorism or approving of terrorism. Critics said a special investigations unit composed of Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston from CNN looked into the Ayers story and concluded that “the relationship between Obama and Ayers went deeper, ran longer and was more political than Obama — and his surrogates.”


The CNN story said that:

A review of board minutes and records by CNN show Obama, crossed paths repeatedly with Ayers at board meetings of the Annenberg Challenge Project in Chicago.   For seven years, Ayers and Obama — among many others — worked on funding for education projects, including some projects advocated by Ayers.   While working on the Annenberg project, Obama and Ayers also served together on a second charitable foundation, the Woods Fund, and that among the Woods Fund recipients was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church where Obama had his church membership.   Obama praised Ayers’ book on the subject of juvenile justice in a 1997 Chicago Tribune review, calling it “a searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.  


On a September 23, 2008, the Wall Street Journal published an article written by Stanley Kurtz called “Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism On Schools. ”   In it Kurtz claims that Barack Obama’s relationship with William Ayers is more than that of just having served together on the board of the educational non profit organization Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) and that “Barack Obama’s first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995 gathering at Mr. Ayers’s home.” 

According to the article, “in early 1995, Mr. Obama was appointed the first chairman of the board, which handled fiscal matters. Mr. Ayers co-chaired the foundation’s other key body, the ‘Collaborative,’ which shaped education policy.”   Kurtz raised a question in this article as to how “a former community organizer fresh out of law school, could vault to the top of a new foundation?”   Even though the Obama campaign had issued a statement denying Ayres recruitment of Obama, Kurtz observed that  “Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval.”

The New York Times published an article by Scott Shane about the Senator’s relationship with Ayers on October 3, 2008 called “Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths.”   In it, Shane wrote, “Their paths have crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama’s first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors.” 

Shane talked to Obama Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt,  who told him “they have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in the United States Senate in January 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they bumped into each other on the street in Hyde Park.”

Click for Wall Street Journal Kurtz article

Click for New York Time Article

Click for Obama’s Fight the Smears statement

CLICK HERE for a list of other related stories about Barack Obama

updated 10/08/08