Obama's car at auction with note from Elmhurst chief inside

  • Jeff Chiu/AP February 2019A black 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee owned by former President Barack Obama is being auctioned Wednesday in Connecticut. Among the items that survived in the glove box for three owners after Obama is a letter from John Millner, who wrote it when he was chief of police in Elmhurst.

    Jeff Chiu/AP February 2019A black 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee owned by former President Barack Obama is being auctioned Wednesday in Connecticut. Among the items that survived in the glove box for three owners after Obama is a letter from John Millner, who wrote it when he was chief of police in Elmhurst.

  • A note from John Millner, a former Elmhurst police chief as well as a state representative and state senator, is included among glove box items to be auctioned Wednesday with President Barack Obama's old Jeep.

    A note from John Millner, a former Elmhurst police chief as well as a state representative and state senator, is included among glove box items to be auctioned Wednesday with President Barack Obama's old Jeep.

 
 
Updated 6/25/2019 9:05 PM

The first car President Barack Obama bought new is being auctioned Wednesday, and the first listed "personally-owned artifact" that comes with the car is a note from a former Elmhurst police chief.

John Millner was the Elmhurst chief and Obama was an Illinois state senator when Millner penned the note, which is about a state bill aimed at preventing racial profiling. The handwritten message is the first among seven items or categories of items included with Obama's black 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is up for auction Wednesday with a starting bid of $20,000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I wanted to discuss a few ideas about the profiling bill," the letter reads. "I would like to see it work ... Please give me a call at your convenience."

"I actually don't remember writing the note," Millner said Tuesday. "But I remember the situation at the time."

It was the early 2000s when Obama was working on legislation against racial profiling by police, and Millner said he had some ideas about information gathering to help separate the reality of the problem from perception. He wanted to share those ideas with Obama, then a state senator from Chicago.

Millner said he also remembers working with Obama during the president's time in the Illinois State Senate on efforts to improve early childhood education and after-school care. Millner said he championed those causes while he was president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and co-chairman of a law enforcement advocacy group called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Millner later became both a state senator and a state representative himself, serving in the positions from 2003 to 2013.

"He had empathy. He listened. He did what he had to do," Millner said about Obama. "I truly appreciated the relationship that I had with him."

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News of the auction came as a fun surprise for Millner, who said he's not sure why the letter ended up in Obama's glove box and stayed there for so long. He also said he can't remember whether Obama called him back specifically to discuss the note.

Obama's former Jeep has had three owners since him -- including a collector of presidential artifacts -- and now has 134,404 miles on the odometer, according to the item overview from University Archives. The historical auction house is auctioning the vehicle beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday in Westport, Connecticut.

"This fantastic piece of history," the item overview reads, "is the perfect reminder that someone can come from humble beginnings and become president."

Other items of Obama's to be auctioned with the Jeep from inside its glove compartment include "Obama for Illinois Senator" business cards, parking receipts and a note Obama wrote about a lunch order.

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