Washington, Aug 27 : Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama has been linked to William Ayers, a founding member of the 1960s and 1970s radical group the Weather Underground.
According to documents released on Tuesday by the University of Illinois at Chicago shed some light on Obama's relationship with Ayers, who now teaches at the university, has become an issue in the Illinois senator's presidential campaign.
The Weather Underground took credit for several nonfatal bombings on targets that included the Pentagon and the US Capitol, and critics accuse Obama of rubbing elbows with an unabashed 1960s radical.
Obama has said that, although he knew Ayers as a professor involved in community outreach efforts in Chicago, he doesn't share Ayers' extreme views, FOX News reported.
The massive collection of newly released documents -- 140 boxes full of them -- includes agendas that clearly put Obama and Ayers in the same room for meetings of Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an educational initiative that Ayers was instrumental in starting and that Obama chaired in the 1990s.
The initiative was funded by 49.2 million dollar from the Annenberg Foundation with the intention of establishing community partnerships that would improve schools.
In one agenda on March 15, 1995, meeting featured Obama making introductions and Ayers giving a briefing.
But more than a year later, Obama pushed the group to be bolder in its reforms. Minutes from an October 1996 gathering show Obama, a guest at a meeting of the collaborative, raised questions about what the group should be doing.
"At the end of five years, will we have broken the mold? Not much seems to be bubbling up that is inspiring or substantive," the minutes say, paraphrasing Obama.
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, is fighting a conservative group called the American Issues Project over a TV commercial that links Obama to Ayers. The campaign argues that the nonprofit group is violating federal laws regulating political ads by nonprofits.
Story first published: Wednesday, August 27, 2008, 13:09 [IST]