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Major Stacks: Tech Billionaires Among Donors to Obama Foundation

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President Barack Obama speaks at McCormick Place in Chicago, giving his presidential farewell address. AP / Nam Y. Huh

The Obama Foundation is attracting major Silicon Valley donors as it has ramped up fundraising since Barack Obama left the White House in January. The nonprofit organization released a list of top contributors Thursday through the first quarter of 2017 and the list is topped with tech billionaires that make up a Forbes Magazine who’s who.

At the very top is technology venture capitalist John Doerr and his wife and, who have given more than $1 million. Along with them in the million dollar column are Michael Sacks wife Cari. Sacks is CEO of GCM Grosvenor Capital Management, which had been a major fundraiser for Obama’s campaign and an ally of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Tribune reports.

But several major players follow them, donating between $750,000 and $1 million. They include Renaissance Technologies founder James Simons and wife Marilyn, and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and his wife Sara Morishige.

One of the primary aims of the Obama Foundation is to oversee the construction of the Obama Presidential Library, which is set to begin next year and open in 2021 in Chicago. About $7.3 million was raised toward that goal in 2014 and 2015, according to the organization’s public records. The figures for 2016 are not yet publicly available.

The library is expected to cost $500 million and will be designed by the firms Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects of New York and Interactive Design Architects of Chicago. Ralph Appelbaum Associates, which designed the National Museum of African-American History and Culture will also design the library’s exhibit space.

While president, Obama did not take any donations for the project from for-profit groups, lobbyists or individuals representing foreign nations. But now that he is out of office, that dynamic has changed and he can pursue any type of donor he chooses, although a spokesperson for the Obama Foundation told the Chicago Tribune it will “continue to vet and publicly disclose all large contributions.”

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