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It Is “Possible” Obama Was Aware of Rezko’s Financial and Legal Woes

abcrezkoobama-sm1.jpgObama continues to obfuscate and equivocate in the wake of today’s arrest of Antion “Tony” Rezko, the indicted slumlord who is one of Obama’s main political patrons.  I quote ABC News:

Rezko has ties to presidential candidate Barack Obama. The senator says he had no indication of any problems with Rezko when he accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from him.

So Obama tells ABC News he had no indication of Rezko’s mounting problems when he accepted over $180,000 from the notorious kickback artist.  But in April 2007 he stated that is was “possible” his state Senate office received complaints from Rezko’s tenants.  I quote the Chicago Tribune:

Obama said in the interview Monday that he was unaware of the scope of properties owned by Rezmar or the problems surrounding them. He said none of the affected residents personally sought his help and that aides at his state Senate district office did not recall any inquiries. Still, he said it was “possible” that during his tenure in the legislature that a constituent may have written or called his office “saying, ‘We’re in a building, and we’re unhappy with the service here.’”Such problems, he said, would normally be brought to the attention of an alderman or the city’s Housing Department. “Had I known that there were buildings that were in deteriorating or poor condition, that certainly would have given me pause. But I didn’t” know, Obama said.

He also maintained during the interview that is the subject of the Chicago Tribune article I cite that he never intervened on behalf of Rezko’s tenement empire.  

Asked if he had intervened on behalf of Rezko or Rezmar with any government entity, Obama replied, “Never. No.”

“Never[,] no:” his answer could not be more unequivocal.  And yet,  he did serve as an advocate for Rezko when he penned letters on his Illinois state Senate letterhead for New Kenwood, LLC, an enterprise Rezko jointly owned with Obama’s former boss Allison Davis.  Did he or did he not intervene of Rezko’s behalf?  And did Obama’s state Senate office receive complaints from constituents who were Rezko’s tenants, or was it is only “possible” that these constituents voiced their concerns to Obama’s state Senate staff?  Although the evidence I reproduce provides the real answer to the first question, the second question will remain unresolved, for Obama prevaricated when confronted with the probing questions of the Chicago Tribune’s inquisitive reporter.  Having had uttered one falsehood during the interview, it is “possible” Obama dissembled when asked about constituents’ complaints about Rezko’s properties.  But even if Obama were honest with the reporter, it is only “possible” that his office fielded Rezko’s questions.  And it was indeed “possible” that his office received complaints both from Rezko’s tenants and from the neighbors of Rezko’s various properties.  It is also possible Obama was aware of Rezko’s legal and financial woes when he accepted Rezko’s many political donations.  Let us begin with a few facts the Chicago Sun-Times didactically outlines for students of the Rezko scandal.

4. In 1995, Obama began campaigning for a seat in the Illinois Senate. Among his earliest supporters: Rezko. Two Rezko companies donated a total of $2,000. Obama was elected in 1996 — representing a district that included 11 of Rezko’s 30 low-income housing projects.5. Rezko’s low-income housing empire began crumbling in 2001, when his company stopped making mortgage payments on the old nursing home that had been converted into apartments. The state foreclosed on the building — which was in Obama’s Illinois Senate district.6. In 2003, Obama announced he was running for the U.S. Senate, and Rezko — a member of his campaign finance committee — held a lavish fund-raiser June 27, 2003, at his Wilmette mansion.

And let us listen to constituents of Obama who resided in Rezko’s tenements.  Here is Joann Larkins, a resident of a dilapidated Rezko structure just eight blocks from the palatial mansion Obama jointly purchased with Rezko:

Mrs Larkins, 51, lives just seven city blocks away, in a district where posters advertise “dirt cheap properties” and “foreclosure advice”. She moved there almost a decade ago, taking a subsidised apartment with her 20-year-old daughter and one-year-old grandson in a building that had fallen into neglect when run by Mr Rezko.The family boiled water on the stove and draped plastic sheeting across the windows in an effort to keep warm during the city’s bitter winters, as the heating was not working. Rubbish piled up uncollected and repeated requests for basic repairs were ignored.”It was a terrible place to live: there were a lot of drug dealers and people fighting and getting shot,” Mrs Larkins, a widow who receives invalidity benefit, told The Sunday Telegraph.”The owners never took any interest in the place; they just wanted the rent money. We had to call the city just to get the garbage collected.”The 44-apartment complex was one of 30 low-income housing projects run by Mr Rezko and his partners with funds from the city during the 1990s. By early this decade, many were boarded up as bills and mortgage payments went unpaid, but Mr Rezko moved into the fast-food business, while tenants like the Larkins struggled with the legacy of his management.

Janet Jenkins, a neighbor of another Rezko property in Obama’s state Senate district, also witnessed squalor and crime:

Janet Jenkins witnessed the deterioration of one building that Rezmar co-developed with the Chicago Urban League a dozen years ago. Today, the 12-unit building at 62nd Street and Rhodes is boarded up. And she’s glad.”Oh, absolutely,” said Jenkins, 57, who lives a few doors south of the building. “That building has been a problem to this block for years.”We had numerous complaints. Drug selling. Prostitution. The whole nine yards. Filthy. Deplorable. Rats. Mice. Roaches. Urine. Feces. Name it.”

 In one case City Hall was contacted, and in another an entire block of residents were up in arms over the the squalor and crime besieging another Rezko property.  Surely Obama’s state Senate office never received notification of the problems besieging Rezko’s tenement empire from 1997-2004.  Or perhaps he did.  After all, he claims it is “possible” these constituents contacted his office.But even if his constituents never alerted his state Senate office to the squalid conditions of Rezko’s deteriorating structures, it is “possible” Obama’s political allies informed him of Rezko’s financial troubles.  The testimony of Deputy Housing Commissioner Jack Markowski is particularly revealing in this respect.  I quote the Chicago Sun-Times:

Rezmar’s financial problems became a concern to city officials in the summer of 1998 — six years after it first missed payments on city loans. Rezko and Mahru were seeking a $3.1 million loan in 1998 for what would be their final low-income housing project.Rezmar’s loan application apparently made no reference to financial problems, including a bank’s threat to foreclose on Rezmar’s first deal, the building at 46th and Drexel. This worried Jack Markowski, then the city’s first deputy housing commissioner, now commissioner.”For Rezmar, I’d want to see their 1997 computation since rumors are that they’re in bad shape,” Markowski wrote in a July 8, 1998, memo to his staff.Despite Markowski’s concerns, the Daley administration gave Rezmar a $3.1 million loan to help rehab 84 apartments.Asked about his 1998 memo, Markowski issued a statement last week saying the city gave Rezmar the loan because “credit references were positive and loans current.” And Markowski noted that others — First National Bank of Chicago and Apollo Housing Capital — invested in that project.That deal included three of the mayor’s top African-American allies: Bishop Arthur Brazier, Leon Finney Jr. and Allison Davis. Brazier and Finney ran the Fund for Community Redevelopment and Revitalization, a not-for-profit group that was Rezmar’s partner in the project.Davis’ company is listed in state records as an investor in the deal, though the state said he didn’t end up investing in the deal. Davis said he had no recollection of investing in the deal. But one of his companies formed a partnership with Apollo and got a $130,000 fee on that deal, state records show.Davis and Finney are also members of the Chicago Plan Commission, appointed by Daley.

Notice that Allison Davis, Obama’s former boss and partner of New Kenwood, LLC, was heavily involved both in the suppression of Markowski’s reservations and in the deal Rezmar struck with City Hall.  Also notice that Obama wrote a letter on behalf of New Kenwood, LLC, the same year rumors of Rezko’s problems were circulating in City Hall and in Chicago’s various political circles.  This is also same year in which Obama performed legal work for Rezko at the law firm at which Davis was his former boss.  If Obama’s constituents did not inform him of the crime and squalor surrounding Rezko’s underfinanced tenement empire, I am sure Allison Davis described the situation when she asked Obama to advocate for New Kenwood, LLC, on state Senate stationary in 1998.Rezko’s tenants were without heat in 1997; rumors on Rezko’s legal and financial woes were circulating in 1998; Obama performs legal and political work for Rezko and Davis in 1998; foreclosed buildings in Obama’s state Senate district were literally crumbling in 2001; Rezko holds fundraisers for Obama in 2003; Rezko serves as a campaign finance chair of Obama’s US Senate bid in 2003 and 2004: no wonder why columnists of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune find Obama’s equivocations on the possibility of his awareness of Rezko’s problems at the time when Rezko was coordinating lavish fundraisers for the Senator unconvincing.  Here is the Chicago Tribune‘s reproving admonition of Obama:

Last week, Hillary Clinton attacked Obama for his association with alleged influence-peddler Tony Rezko. If Obama had dealt with the Rezko issue forthrightly long ago, it might rank in public memory with Clinton’s remarkable success in cattle futures.Instead, as we’ve said, Obama has been too self-exculpatory. His assertion in network TV interviews last week that nobody had indications Rezko was engaging in wrongdoing strains credulity: Tribune stories linked Rezko to questionable fundraising for Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2004 — more than a year before the adjacent home and property purchases by the Obamas and the Rezkos.One more time, Senator:You need to divulge all there is to know about that relationship. Until you do, the journalistic scrubbing and opposition research will intensify. You should have recognized Rezko as a political seducer of young talent.

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times also desires an aboveboard discussion with the Illinois Senator on his relations with Antoin “Tony” Rezko, for she too views Obama’s recent statements with incredulity.  I quote:

Obama has never agreed to an interview about Rezko, but after Clinton injected the name into the campaign on Monday, on Wednesday, ABC’s “Good Morning America’s” Diane Sawyer asked Obama about Rezko. Obama made it seem like he hardly knew Rezko — who was a friend, a client and a fund-raiser — and was clueless about Rezko’s potential criminal legal problems that had been reported by the Chicago press.

Because Obama has been anything but forthcoming when asked about his knowledge of and relation to Antoin “Tony” Rezko’s various legal and financial woes, I believe he must preside over a press conference wherein he will address all the remaining queries the press may have about the indicted slumlord who was also one of Obama’s main political patrons. Answers with the adjective “possible” will require further elaboration, and photographs of other politicians cannot be deployed in a vain attempt to create yet another media distraction. For Rezko, if I may quote the Chicago Tribune, “is Obama’s problem,” and it will remain his problem until the record is fully clarified.

  • http://link Stinky41

    In other words, when they write checks to buy government bonds or any other form of debt, they have no money to back up the checks. ,

  • Tod Le

    f631aw92o960fx16

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  • Mad Gosling

    The letter Obama wrote in favor of the 1998 deal is pretty customary for affordable housing projects. Most applications for tax credit financing require letters of support from local officials, politician, etc. Check any file of an affordable housing project and I am sure you will find similar letters from other elected officials.

  • lizben08

    Best to get this in the open now. Rather Democrats decide than Republicans. With Rezko trial starting end of this month, we need to know.

  • TeakWoodKite

    “Tapped into…” ? He listens to Art Bell?
    “Trying to get people to dream big” eh Obama?

    “There is no try there is only DO!” (yodi)

    “Hard to say say what the economy will be like in 2009″? No imagination required with that Obama!

    Energy policiy = ?

    Super Tuesday: Latinos are impressed…Drivers licenses in the state Senate?
    I thought we heard that answered at a recent debate? If you agree with the 911 recommendations as you voted for it the answer is what?

    Murphy Putnam Media and the Big Brother internet smear “ad”, who Obama hired? Remeber that one?

    TruthTeller: Who are the players are First National Bank of Chicago and Apollo Housing Capital who delt with Rezko? Where calls made by the Governor or Obama? Would you be making public comments regarding an active criminal investigation in which you may have to testify under oath about? To me that is “Lawyer Up” 101.

    Rezko serves as a campaign finance chair of Obama’s US Senate bid in 2003 and 2004

    Chicago southside politics is a small universe and saying you did not know about “crumbling” tenaments in your own district is a lie or paints Obama as having blind indifference to those in his charge.

    Secondly, having a person in charge of your finances who you KNOW has played apart in contributing to the misery of people, of which, Obama has apparently never meet, even when they were his sworn responsibility begs the question; What judgement?

    Having Kennedy endorse Obama is a good thing for him, but it can not be viewed in isolation. I was of the mind that Obama was getting “punked” by Repubs earlier in the cycle. Now I am thinking Obama is seen by some in Democratic Party as someone who can be “shaped” and is a glass half full in which the old bulls of the Democratic party can fill with Kool Aid of their own vintage.

    Why do I think this way? Because in all cases Obama has been working UP the food chain and his ability to get anything done is predicated on being feed by those who WILL not be treated like un-tipped food engineers. No “leap of faith” can change this political reality.

    • norris morris

      Old party hacks can now wrest power with Obama as their poodle.

      Kennedy sold us out with the horrible MedicareRX PlanD. It keeps our drugs costly and the doughnut hole pays nothing at all while we pay twice. First for unreimbursable drugs we must then pay full high price for, as cap is reached [generally within 6 to 7 months].

      Seond, from 2 to 7 months [depending on amt of drugs used], we seniors have to continue paying the full monthly premium on the drug insurance and must buy our drugs at these high prices until Jan.1 of following year.

      A scew job we can thank spineless democrats for, and Teddy led the charge to revamp drug reform.

      A betrayal from an old pol who sees a possibility as power broker.
      Disgusting cynical politics. Forget

  • truthteller2007

    thank you, taters. the more i investigate obama’s relationship with rezko, the more troubling it becomes.

  • Taters

    Well done, truthteller.

    • TeakWoodKite

      I second that.

  • Taters

    So far nothing illegal and big city politics, Chicago style. A total lack of ethics or incompetence? How did Obama not know his constituents – tenants of Rezko – were without heat and other necessities during a brutal Chicago winter?

    Hoosier Hoops and Bernie O – regarding housing
    Maybe that is what Michelle Obama meant when she said to Hillary to get her house in order.

    • norris morris

      His contention has no credibility whatsoever, and someone has got to dig up his closeted Illinois State Legislature & assembly records.

      His reply is dishonest on its face.

  • http://www.food4humanity.org HoosierHoops

    still think the house deal is the most problematic for Obama

    I don’t know about that..The Clinton’s had whitewater and that didn’t stop 2 terms in the WH.
    I read in the WSJ today that the reason the pub’s aren’t attacking obama is because they want him to run against thier guy..Then he becomes cannon fodder.

  • BernieO

    I still think the house deal is the most problematic for Obama. How did he manage to get the house for $300,000 under the asking price when the Rezkos bought the lot for full price? The only explanation I can imagine is that Rezko made a deal with the seller to help Obama. Unless I am mistaken it is seriously illegal for a Senator to take this kind of gift. (Think Ted Stevens and the free work on his house.)Also the fact that Rezko built the fence between the two properties, even though Obama paid for the architect and landscaping design. There is a gate in the fence so Obama’s gardener can mow Rezko’s lot. Sure seems like Rezko basically gave Obama a sweetheart deal. And all of this happened after it became clear that Rezko was in big trouble for corruption. If my take is correct this is a lot more serious than bad judgement. I don’t think Obama is a crook, but I could see him being so overconfident that he thinks he is above reproach.

    People who think this issue should not be brought up are not thinking straight. You can bet the Republicans will. If there is any chance of illegalities, we need to know now before Super Tuesday. Imagine if Obama wins the majority of delegates and then it comes out that he has serious legal problems. That would be a disaster for the Democratic party.

    • norris morris

      It was a bait and switch deal through Rezko and Doctor owner of property. Then, Rita Rezko sold it to Obama way under it’s worth. Rita and Obama closed on the same day,

      see it online at. http://www.suntimes.com

  • LandOLincoln

    This is sickening, quite literally. While I haven’t lived in Illinois for close to 40 years, I was born and grew up there, and came of age politically there.

    Consequently I was quite delirious about Obama–until Wes Clark endorsed Hillary, followed shortly by RFK Jr.

    So then I stepped back and took another look, reminding myself that very few Illinois politicians–most especially Chicago politicians–get anywhere without dirtying themselves at least a bit.

    But this…this is unbelievable. He’s so damned dirty I’m beginning to wonder if he’s CONSCIOUSLY acting as a stalking horse for the other side. No wonder the Trib endorsed him.

    • grtphoto

      that is an interesting point, I came up with my own impression of the whole mess last night and thought maybe he is the anti-manchurian candidate. a set up. get him out of the way so that they can attack Hillary in the general, or keep low about him now, and if he gets the nom, completely destroy him. I personally have too much cognitive dissonance over this one with all that I have read compared with the fawning all over him by the right.

    • norris morris

      I’ve known some of this Obama/Rezko connection for a while, and have dug into Chicago Sun Times and Tribune for much of above information and letters written by Obama for Rezko.

      Since the constituents of the the neglected, squalid, rat infested, leaky,unheated, apartments were abandoned due to non payment of monthly mortgages, most of these apartments went into foreclosure. These apartments were on the South Side in the poorest and most neglected area in Chicago.

      As Obama wants us to believe that “he didn’t know about this”, just contemplate that the buildings [30] were mentioned in the Sun Times and Tribune and also the City of Chicago cited them for violations in witholding heat for weeks.

      All of these apartments were considered rehabs of low-income apts and Rezko was subsidized with Federal,State, City, funds to presumably rehab and run them. Stories of withholding heat and general neglect were well known in Chicago, but not it seems to Obama even though 11 of these bldgs were in his district?

      The SunTimes exhaustive investigative reporting was led by Tim Novak who has repeatedly asked Obama to respond to the facts.

      Obama has not done this and wants us to believe that he knew nothing.?

      Ultimately the City of Chicago issued a $100. fine for the notorious unheated units. Only a deaf and blind person could be unaware of Rezko’s schemes regarding the buildings he aquired with public funds.
      Obama is riding the crest of Ted & Caroline Kennedy’s endorsement in which Ted Kennedy told us that anyone questioning Obama is using the race card/and/or waging a political war of dirty lies.

      The press has been reliably timid outside of the Chicago Press. Obama is given a Rezko question…
      he then denies….and Tim Russert moves on without a follow-up. Teflon treatment.

    • norris morris

      Seems all of the right wing press in Chicago and Nevada have endorsed Obama. If we were professionally equipped we would dig up Obama’s Illinois State Senate diary and record.

      The Sun Times has some of this, but there is more.If anyone could retrieve these along with telephone records it would be major.

      This latest info on Rezko regarding Iraqi felon he arranged Visa for is a “tell”. Who in Illinois legislature got this Visa above the process?

      The Media is giving him cover.

  • http://democracylover.blogspot.com Charley

    We need to move forward into the future of hope, not let ourselves be mired in the past, don’tcha know. Perhaps Obama might take some cues from Donny Rumsfeld and talk about the known knowns about Rezko and unknown knowns. Or he could take the standard Republican stance when anyone brings up an inconvenient historical fact – “that’s ancient history”.

    He better figure out how to defend himself from these little barbs if he plans to face the Republican smear machine in the fall. Or else the Democratic Party better figure out how to keep him from getting the nomination.

  • http://truthteller2007.mydd.com/ Truthteller

    This is devastating information.

    This: “But in April 2007 he stated that is was “possible” his state Senate office received complaints from Rezko’s tenants. …”

    It’d be laughing-out-loud funny if it didn’t also involve the poorest of Chicago’s residents living in utterly deplorable circumstances.

    Obama doesn’t give a f–k about poor people. But he sure courts the wealthy, doesn’t he.

    • norris morris

      Some really great investigative reporter should get the Springfield telephone records regarding the recent problems with Rezko’s Iraqi connection. Obama’s legislative record must be obtained…permits, subsidy’s, etc are in the Illinois Legislative archives that Obama claims he never saved as they weren’t relevant.

      They are relevant, and the 2 letters published by Larry to The Dept of Housing and to Commissioner of Development,Illinois Housing Authority should all be made to cough up their records re: Obama’s work for Rezko’s requests and properties.