By Bud White on April 18, 2008 at 2:55 PM in 9/11, Barack Obama, Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Chicago, Chicago politics, CIA, Clinton, Commander in Chief, George Stephanopoulos, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Patriotism, Terrorism, Tony Rezko, William Ayers
Overview: This is a story of big-city behind-the-scenes politics — of scratch-my-back and I’ll-scratch-yours backroom dealings. It is a story of how Bill Ayers and Barack Obama — sitting on a charitable board (for which they were paid) — aided and abetted the lucrative real estate development projects of Obama’s former law firm associate Allison Davis and Davis’s development partner Antoin “Tony” Rezko.
The Woods board on which Ayers and Obama sat ended up giving those two development partners the sum of one million dollars, from which both Davis and Rezko reaped considerable financial gain. And Obama did not recuse himself from the board’s vote on this large real estate transaction despite a clear conflict of interest from his past associations. Obama then became the beneficiary of large — very large — campaign contributions from Rezko and many of his wealthy associates. It all worked out very well for Sen. Obama.
Bill Ayers, Obama’s friend and benefactor, was introduced to the public during Wednesday’s Democratic debate, much to the chagrin of the Obama campaign and his supporters.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Ayers was not a radical; he is a domestic terrorist (Ayers once suggested that young people should “Bring the war home. Kill your parents.”). There’s a big distinction between having radical ideas and violent plans. Gloria Steinem, Tom Hayden, and Todd Gitlin were radicals. The desire to kill innocent Americans makes Ayers a terrorist.
William Ayers is not just some guy who lives in Barack’s congressional district. He helped Barack organize his run against State Senator Alice Palmer. Ayers raised money for Barack. Ayers contributed money to Barack. And Bill Ayers and Barack Obama sat side-by-side as paid board members of the Woods Fund.
Contrary to Obama’s claim that who your friends are shouldn’t matter, the fact that his benefactor is an unrepentant terrorist calls into question Obama’s judgment. If Obama were applying for a job with the FBI or any American intelligence agency, his relationship with Ayers would receive the utmost scrutiny and would likely result in him receiving a rejection letter:
The CIA employment Web site says:
Friends, family, individuals, or organizations may be interested to learn that you are an applicant for or an employee of the CIA. Their interest, however, may not be benign or in your best interest.
This is a warning for an entry level analyst position. Obama is applying to be Commander-in-Chief. Obama’s friends have included an American terrorist and Obama wants us to be believe that this relationship was benign? Not only are we entitled to ask about this relationship, it’s our fiduciary duty as voters to demand more information about this relationship.
As the National Review Online asks about Obama’s association with Ayers, only slightly tongue-in-cheek: “Do you, personally, know anyone who has ever tried to blow up the Pentagon?”
Obama’s poor judgment in picking his friends–from Wright, to Rezko, to Ayers–becomes glaringly obvious when you realize that many of Obama’s friends knew each other and were all working for each others’ benefit. Like the Teamster’s Pension Fund, the non-profit Woods Fund was place where Chicago’s powerful could mingle and dispense funds to their friends:
In Obama’s case, a whole gang of slumlords in Illinois made their “voices heard” by writing campaign checks to fund his rise to fame. But as long as the focus of the slumlord allegations remains solely on a crook named Rezko, the other members of the gang will not get the credit they deserve.
In the mid-1990s, Ayers and Dohrn [Ayers' wife] hosted a meet-and-greet at their house to introduce Obama to their neighbors during his first run for the Illinois Senate. In 2001, Ayers contributed $200 to Obama’s campaign. Ayers also served alongside Obama between December 1999 and December 2002 on the board of the not-for-profit Woods Fund of Chicago. That board met four times a year, and members would see each other at occasional dinners the group hosted.
Writing for the Chicago Sun Times, Tim Novak reports that Obama’s “charity” work may have equally benefited Obama and his friends. Obama and Ayers were sitting board members when their friends came looking for money:
Seven years ago, Sen. Barack Obama was on the board of a Chicago charity when his former boss, Allison S. Davis, came looking for money. At the time, Davis was a developer represented by the law firm where Obama worked, as well as a small contributor to Obama’s political campaign funds. He wanted the charity to help fund his plans to build housing for low-income Chicagoans. Obama agreed. He voted with other directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago to invest $1 million with Neighborhood Rejuvenation Partners L.P., a $17 million partnership that Davis still operates.
It’s not clear whether Obama told other board members of his ties to Davis, whose family would go on to donate more than $25,000 to Obama’s political campaigns, including his bid to be president of the United States.
“Let me get back to you on that,” Obama presidential campaign spokesman Bill Burton said when asked about that two weeks ago. He never did.
In a painful contortion, the Obama campaign defended Obama’s “magnanimous” vote by claiming that
“It was a worthwhile project,” Burton said. “It’s not a conflict of interest to do what’s right for your community.”
City records show Davis used some of the money to build a 72-unit apartment building for senior citizens at 87th and Ashland. The $10 million project — built with a $5.7 million loan from the city — netted Davis nearly $700,000 in development fees, city records show.
Perhaps the biggest revelation is that Obama’s buddy Rezko was a business partner with Davis.
As a developer, Davis’ partners have included Tony Rezko, the now-indicted political fund-raiser who has been among Obama’s biggest political supporters. A few months after Davis left the law firm, Obama won his first political office — a seat in the Illinois Senate. His campaign contributors included Rezko and Davis.
Two years later, Obama wrote to city and state officials, urging them to give money to New Kenwood LLC, a company that Davis and Rezko formed to build an apartment building for low-income seniors at 48th and Cottage Grove.
Davis and Rezko were building that project in 2000 when Davis approached the Woods Fund, seeking its investment in future projects.
In summary, Obama was at the intersection of money and power in Chicago politics. He voted to fund his boss’s projects who in turn donated huge sums of money to his campaigns. His boss was in business with Tony Rezko, another Obama friend and fundraiser. And all of this was done while sitting across the table from an American terrorist, Bill Ayers, who also gave money to Obama’s campaigns and to the business ventures of Rezko and Davis. It’s now painfully obvious why Obama doesn’t want us to examine his friendships.