Well, this is curious. Sharon Churcher, a reporter with the Daily Mail, published this piece last night without naming a name other than Barack Obama:
Barack Obama is the target of a shadowy smear campaign designed to derail his bid for the US Presidency by falsely claiming he had a close friendship with an attractive African-American female employee.
The whispers focus on a young woman who in 2004 was hired to work on his team for his bid to become a senator.
The woman was purportedly sidelined from her duties after Senator Obama’s wife, Michelle, became convinced that he had developed a personal friendship with her.
The allegations were initially circulated in August, just two weeks before the convention at which Obama finally beat his opponent for the Democratic Party nomination, Hillary Clinton. . . .
According to our investigation into the rumours, they originated with political veterans who claim to be loyal Democrats.
They have tried to persuade reporters that they have the woman’s interests at heart.
One of the sources who has been circulating the rumours admitted never meeting the woman but claimed he has spoken to ‘a group of African American’ women who are her friends and believe she was mistreated.
Denial: The woman, whose identity we have protected, rejected the claims
‘They said she was removed from her position and the political scene because Michelle got wind of the fact that she had a close friendship with her husband,’ the source said. ‘She disappeared, then she reappeared in the Caribbean.’
The Mail on Sunday located the woman in the Caribbean, where she now works. She denied that Mrs Obama had raised any objections to her job on the 2004 campaign.
‘No,’ she said. ‘Nothing happened. I just left … at the end of the campaign.’
Asked about the claim that Mrs Obama accused her of having a close friendship with the Senator, she said: ‘I have no comment on anything.
‘I switched careers. That’s it. I’m a Democrat and I support Senator Obama … I don’t have anything to say.’
She added that she emigrated to the Caribbean from the US after falling in love with the man with whom she now lives.
Senator Obama’s team did not respond to our request for comment.
But one day after we contacted Obama’s team, a London law firm informed The Mail on Sunday that it had been retained by the woman to help her to counter the whispering campaign, which they said was ‘absolutely false’.
After you read Churcher’s article take a look at today’s piece by Hill Buzz, which carries the nifty title, Who is Vera Baker and Why is She in Martinique? and seems to have similar story line sans the allegations of any romantic entanglements.
According to Hill Buzz:
FEC Senate campaign records show she was paid a pretty penny as “Finance Director”.
However, people familiar with Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign say Claire Serdiuk was Obama’s Finance Director. Looking through everything we can see online for that 2004 campaign, Claire Serdiuk is consistently listed as the Finance Director – because that’s what she was.
There’s no mention of Vera Baker…but Vera Baker was paid as the “Finance Director” too.
And then, suddenly, Vera Baker was relocated to New York.
Looks like Kevin at Hill Buzz is stirring the waters in a clever way, but at least has FEC records to bolster the assertion that Baker served in a finance role of some sort with Barack’s campaign for the Senate. What is curious about the Churcher piece, which appears to be sympathetic to Obama by portraying him as the victim of an impending smear, is the note that a London law firm contacted the mail. They were threatened with a libel suit, so why the hell did they write the piece? If it is not news then why put it out and draw attention to an unnamed woman that is simply going to fuel the search for the woman in question?
It is true that Vera Baker had a business in Washington raising campaign funds. She was partners with another African American woman, Muthoni Wambu, Baker Wambu & Associates, a political fund-raising firm. Guess who Wambu works for now? Joe Biden. The Politico had a story about Baker Wambu’s business challenges in May 2007:
That’s what happened when Muthoni Wambu and Vera Baker, both African-American women, set up their own fundraising shop, Baker Wambu & Associates, in 2000.
Though it was never its owners’ intention, Baker Wambu soon found itself a top fundraising firm for the Congressional Black Caucus. Their only non-black clients were Reps. Mike Honda (D-Hawaii) and Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-N.Y.). Not a single white male politician linked up with the firm in its five years.
“We didn’t aim to be (a strictly CBC firm) at all. But we started to look and say, ‘Huh, that’s a good committee, that’s a big deal.’ … A lot of CBC members were really open to having a firm like ours raise money for them,” said Wambu, now deputy political director for Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Democratic presidential campaign. “In many ways, they were overlooked as resources. Businesses hadn’t pitched to them.”
Here’s another little tidbit on Muthoni Wambu:
African American professionals can build prosperous careers in the capital city, especially those hoping to play a role in national politics. “There’s a mentality here that there’s enough for everyone; you’re not competing for what feels like a limited number of opportunities,” says 29-year-old Muthoni Wambu.
Like most Washingtonians, Wambu is a transplant. She left New York City’s Upper West Side to study journalism at Howard University and then networked her way into a political fundraising job with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. This was a new aspect of politics for Wambu, who soon discovered that it “brought together my strengths in a way that I’d never anticipated.”
In 2000, Wambu and Vera Baker, another Howard alum, started Baker-Wambu & Associates. The firm has raised over $3 million for the campaigns of members of Congress and other politicians. “Washington is the best place for our firm to blossom and grow, and one of the only cities where two 24-year-old African American women [could have built a successful business] with pennies and a dream,” she says.
Wambu moved to her neighborhood a few years back, when it was on the cusp of change, and has watched its value multiply over a relatively short period of time. She currently rents an apartment, but in the next year she plans to buy a house and is looking to spend around $400,000. During her 12 years in Washington, D.C., Wambu says that she also has seen the cost of living escalate.
Wambu’s job provides many opportunities to socialize– often with the nation’s most influential business and political leaders. “It is unique to find the number of African Americans that you see at these power restaurants, and [it's] also extremely encouraging,” she says.
It will be interesting to see if Hill Buzz gets a nasty gram from Baker’s London lawyers. And, with rumors swirling that Republican investigators are on the scent, it is unlikely that this is the end of this story.