Latest GOP smear plot revealed: Professor paid to try to tie Ayers to Obama biography
John Byrne
Published: Saturday November 1, 2008

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The brother of a Republican congressman and a Republican businessman attempted to pay an professor in Oxford to use software he designed to "prove" that 1960s radical William Ayers helped write Sen. Barack Obama's biography.

The professor, Dr. Peter Millican, teaches philosophy at Hertford College, Oxford. His software is designed to detect when works are by the same authors by comparing the use of similar words and phrases.

The offer was revealed Sunday in a British newspaper.

“He was entirely upfront about this," the professor said of the Republican businessman who made the offer. "He offered me $10,000 and sent me electronic versions of the text from both books.”

Millican said he took a preliminary look and found the charges that Ayers had had a hand in ghostwriting Obama's book “very implausible.” A deal was agreed for "more detailed research," the paper said, but when Millican "said the results had to be made public, even if no link to Ayers was proved, interest waned."

The Republicans sought to allege similarities between Obama's Dreams of My Father and Ayers' Fugitive Days.

The offer was made by Robert Fox, a California GOP businessman and brother-in-law of Republican Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT).

Asked by the British paper who'd made the offer, Fox and Cannon tried to pin it on each other.

Cannon said "he merely recommended computer testing of the books. He doubted whether Obama wrote his autobiography, adding: 'If Ayers was the author, that would be interesting.'"

Fox "said he had hoped that Cannon would raise the $10,000 to run a computer test. 'It was Congressman Cannon who initially pointed me in that direction and, from our conversation, I thought he might be able to find someone [to raise the $10,000].'"