Do you recall “Obama, His Lobbyists and His Cronies,” my January 11th piece on ABC News’s reports on Barack Obama’s long associations with — and innumerable financial, legal and real estate ties — to Tony Rezko, “who goes on trial February 25th for ‘extortion and fraud charges, which include shakedown allegations involving an Illinois pension fund’”?
ABC News’s Brian Ross said, at the time, that Obama was not named in the 73-page indictment. Today, however, the Chicago Sun-Times — “Sun-Times Exclusive: Obama surfaces in Rekzo’s federal corruption case” — reveals that:
Source confirmed Obama is the unnamed “political candidate” referred to in document which outlines case against Rezko
The Sun-Times reports:
Obama is not named in the Dec. 21 court document. But a source … confirmed that Obama is the unnamed “political candidate” referred to in a section of the document that accuses Rezko of orchestrating a scheme in which a firm hired to handle state teacher pension investments first had to pay $250,000 in “sham” finder’s fees. From that money, $10,000 was donated to Obama’s successful run for the Senate in the name of a Rezko business associate, according to the court filing and the source.
Rezko, who was part of Obama’s senatorial finance committee, also is accused of directing “at least one other individual” to donate money to Obama and then reimbursing that individual — in possible violation of federal election law.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declined to comment.
Obama … has moved to distance himself from Rezko since his longtime friend and supporter was indicted in October 2006. After news reports that Obama had engaged in a real estate transaction with Rezko’s wife at a time Tony Rezko was known to be under investigation, the senator called the episode “boneheaded” and “a mistake.” … [Yeah, right. Below, I'VE POSTED BACKGROUND on Obama's home purchase tied to Resko and his wife.]
Other key revelations in the Sun-Times story today are Obama’s feeble attempts to deny knowledge of shady deals, improper campaign donations, and Rezko’s reputation as a slumlord (all while Obama worked for the law firm that represented Rezko’s interests in low-income housing developments):
- Obama denies knowing Joseph Aramanda — named as “Individual D” in the indictment, and who received $250,000 in “sham” finder’s fees “demanded by Rezko” — but “Obama’s office hired Aramanda’s son as an intern in 2005, at Rezko’s urging,” reports the Sun-Times.
- “Rezko is one of Obama’s earliest political patrons,” and although Obama claims he’s only received $60,000 from Rezko’s fundraising, the Sun-Times found that “[i]n 13 years in politics, Obama has gotten at least $168,000 in campaign donations from Rezko, his family and business associates.”
- Rezko is an infamous slumlord, although — despite having worked on dozens of real estate deals that benefited his client Rezko — Obama “said he was unaware of problems with the buildings and minimized the legal work he’d done.” (So much for the “little people.”)
I wonder if ABC’s Brian Ross has been on the phone all morning, working his own sources for further background on the Sun-Times‘s discovery that Obama is indeed the unnamed “political candidate” in Fitzgerald’s indictment. Here’s Brian Ross’s video from January 10th — when Ross didn’t know that Obama was the unnamed candidate in the indictment. And, below, there’s more from the Sun-Times story along with more background on Tony Rezko:
Here’s the background on Obama’s purchase of his family’s current home in Chicago, along with some of the story on his lengthy history of associations with Rezko:
Obama’s relationship with Rezko dates to 1990, when Obama, then a Harvard law student, interviewed for a job with Rezko’s development company, Rezmar Corp. Obama turned down the job, instead going to work for a small Chicago law firm — Davis Miner Barnhill. That firm did work on more than a dozen low-income housing projects Rezmar rehabbed with government funds.
Eleven Rezmar buildings were in the state Senate district Obama represented between 1996 and 2004. Many of the buildings ended up in foreclosure, with tenants living in squalid conditions, the Sun-Times reported last year. In one instance, Rezko’s company left tenants without heat for five weeks. Obama said he was unaware of problems with the buildings and minimized the legal work he’d done.
Obama’s relationship with Rezko grew closer in June 2005, when Obama and Rezko’s wife bought adjoining real estate parcels from a doctor in the South Side Kenwood neighborhood. Obama paid $1.65 million for the doctor’s mansion, while Rezko’s wife paid $625,000 for the vacant lot next door. Obama’s purchase price was $300,000 below the asking price; Rezko’s wife paid full price.
Six months later, Obama paid Rita Rezko $104,500 for one-sixth of the vacant lot, which he bought to expand his yard. In November 2006, he expressed regret about the transaction.
“It was a mistake to have been engaged with him at all in this or any other personal business dealing that would allow him, or anyone else,” Obama said, “to believe that he had done me a favor.”
Yeah, right. The LeftCoaster has more on Obama’s house purchase in “Obama Can’t Shake Connections To Chicago Insider In Trouble With FBI“:
In October of 2006 it was revealed that Rezko helped Obama purchase a home for hundreds of thousands of dollars below the market value, while Rezko bought the lot next door. Illinois residents remember well Obama saying he didn’t recall the conversations with Rezko, then remembered after Chicago papers started examining the deal, then admitted it was a “bone-headed mistake” on ABC. [As the YouTube video shows, Obama has had a variety of "explanations" for his longtime association with Rezko.]
And here is a list of the Chicago Sun-Times‘s related stories:
FROM THE OBAMA ARCHIVE
- “Obama, His Lobbyists and His Cronies,” SusanUnPC, No Quarter, January 11, 2008
- Taylor Marsh’s article calling for journalists to do their jobs, and “let the vetting begin.”
From my January 11th story, “Obama, His Lobbyists and His Cronies,” SusanUnPC, No Quarter, January 11, 2008:
CAN ANY OF YOU decipher what Obama is mumbling to Diane Sawyer in the Good Morning America interview? Does that mumbling remind of you his weak, faint response in the top YouTube here?