Lisa Madigan (D)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office is investigating a state grant awarded by then-state Sen. Barack Obama for a park that was never built.

The $100,000 grant for a garden in Chicago's blighted Englewood neighborhood was awarded by Obama in 2000, when he was an Illinois state senator.

Officials are investigating whether the grant money might have been misspent because the botanical garden was never built. Obama's actions in awarding the grant is not the focus of the probe.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that $65,000 of the grant money went to the wife of Kenny B. Smith, the Obama 2000 congressional campaign volunteer who heads the Chicago Better Housing Association, which oversaw the project.

The newspaper reported that Smith wrote another $20,000 in grant-related checks to K.D. Contractors, a construction company that his wife, Karen Smith, created five months after construction on the Englewood Botanic Garden Project was supposed to have begun.

K.D. Construction is reportedly no longer in business.

Madigan is investigating "whether this charitable organization properly used its charitable assets, including the state funds it received," Cara Smith, Madigan's deputy chief of staff, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Madigan, a Democrat, is supporting Obama's presidential bid.

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