One of President Barack Obama's closest friends has denied the charge that he tried to pay Rev. Jeremiah Wright $150,000 to keep quiet until after the 2008 election.
Eric Whitaker was not named in Ed Klein's book "The Amateur," but Klein revealed his name during a promotional appearance on Fox News' "Hannity."
“His name is Dr. Eric Whitaker. Dr. Whitaker is the vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center and he’s a member of Obama’s very tight inner-circle," Klein said. [Whitaker] sent an email to a member of the church saying that the Rev. Wright could get a $150,000 if he would shut up and not criticize Obama anymore."
According to Klein's book, Wright rejected the offer, prompting a secretive visit from candidate Obama himself.
But in an email to ABC News, Whitaker denied the book's allegation.
Whitaker wrote: “I have received your message asking whether I’d offered any sort of a bribe during the 2008 campaign. The answer is no. Thank you for giving me the chance to respond.” He didn’t respond to a follow-up question.
In the book, Klein recounted the following conversation with Wright:
“Who sent the e-mail?” I asked Wright.
“It was from one of Barack’s closest friends.”
“He offered you money?”
“Not directly,” Wright said. “He sent the offer to one of the members of the church, who sent it to me.”
“How much money did he offer you?”
“One hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” Wright said.
Klein's journalistic methods have come under criticism from both sides, including a critique on this site.
Asked to respond to the bribery allegation, White House press secretary Jay Carney told ABC that Klein "lacks a certain amount of credibility."
"The Amateur" contained a number of other explosive allegations, including that former President Bill Clinton called Obama an "amateur" and wanted Hillary Clinton to run against him in 2012; that Caroline Kennedy considers Obama a "liar"; and a rivalry between first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.