The first major donations to President Barack Obama's presidential library are rolling in from New York and Chicago, two cities that are competing vigorously to host the future library.
Since launching in February, the Barack Obama Foundation has raised at least $850,000 from four major donors, the group said Tuesday. The foundation is voluntarily disclosing donations of more than $200, but only in broad dollar ranges. The nonprofit declined to say how much it has raised in total.
Tim Collins, a New York-based private equity investor, gave between $250,001 and $500,000. So did James Simons and his wife, Marilyn. A mathematician and hedge fund manager, James Simons is included on Forbes' list of the world's billionaires.
New York resident Mark Gallogly and his wife, Lise Strickler, donated between $100,000 and $250,000, the foundation said. Gallogly is an investor appointed by Obama to serve on two White House economic panels. He also sits on the board of the business school at Columbia University, where Obama attended college. Columbia is mounting a bid to host Obama's library in New York.
Another donation of more than $250,001 came in from Chicago's Cari and Michael Sacks. He's a business executive with close ties to Obama's former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and leads Emanuel's World Business Chicago, the city's not-for-profit economic development agency. Obama appointed Cari Sacks to the Kennedy Center's presidential advisory panel in 2010.
All four donations came from individuals or couples who have donated heavily to Obama's campaigns or other Democratic groups in the past.
Absent from the list: any high-dollar donations from Hawaii, the third state vying to host the library.
Chaired by Obama friend and Chicago businessman Marty Nesbitt, the foundation launched earlier this year and is screening initial applications from 13 groups interested in hosting the library, which is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and may include a presidential center, museum or policy institute. A smaller group will be invited this summer to submit more formal proposals, with the president and first lady Michelle Obama set to make the final decision by early 2015.
While it's already raising money to cover its own costs, the foundation has said most of the funds to build the library won't be raised until after the Obamas leaves the White House. Until then, the president, Mrs. Obama and White House staffers won't raise money for the foundation, which also said it's not currently accepting donations from foreigners, lobbyists or for-profit organizations.