Aides, planetarium explain money requests

Oct. 9, 2008 at 3:58 PM

CHICAGO, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Aides to Barack Obama tried to explain two earmarks Obama sought for Chicago's Adler Planetarium while Adler's chairman was fundraising for the senator.

In the presidential debate Tuesday night, Republican candidate Sen. John McCain criticized his Democratic challenger for two earmarks -- or requests for federal funding, for Illinois, including those for the planetarium.

The connection was raised in a Washington Times article that linked Obama fundraiser Frank Clark, the former board chairman at the planetarium, and earmark requests for the museum.

Astronomers told the Chicago Tribune the criticisms were "anti-science."

Adler President Paul Knappenberger said the funding requests were to update the Adler's original Sky Theater Planetarium Auditorium and its projection system.

Knappenberger said Wednesday that McCain's remarks "placed us in the position of having been frivolous or foolish and we wanted to clear that up."

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said the projection equipment was 40 years old and was no longer supported by the manufacturer, hence the requests.

The campaign Web site also lists campaign fundraisers, or "bundlers," including Clark, who was listed as having raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama's presidential campaign.

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