View Full Version : Obama - Learn about this Chicago Politician

2/5/2008, 09:12 PM
The Chicago Sun-Times has been reporting on Obama and is shady friends for a couple of years now, but it seems very little of this information has found its way into the MSM, such as ABC, CBS, NBC, NY Times, Boston Globe, or the Washington Post. You may be interested in learning a little about the Chicago politician, Barack Obama from some of these Sun-Times stories...

Obama's ties to indicted slumlord Rezko deeper than land deal
In addition to a land deal, Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to indicted dealmaker Antoin “Tony” Rezko include an internship the senator provided the son of a contributor at the request of Rezko, an Obama spokesman confirmed today. John Aramanda served as an intern for Obama for about a month in 2005, said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs. His father is Joseph Aramanda, a Rezko business associate who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal corruption case against Rezko. Aramanda has contributed $11,500 to Obama since 2000, Gibbs said....

For more than five weeks during the brutal winter of 1997, tenants shivered without heat in a government-subsidized apartment building on Chicago's South Side. It was just four years after the landlords -- Antoin "Tony'' Rezko and his partner Daniel Mahru -- had rehabbed the 31-unit building in Englewood with a loan from Chicago taxpayers. Rezko and Mahru couldn't find money to get the heat back on. But their company, Rezmar Corp., did come up with $1,000 to give to the political campaign fund of Barack Obama, the newly elected state senator whose district included the unheated building.

Obama, who has worked as a lawyer and a legislator to improve living conditions for the poor, took campaign donations from Rezko even as Rezko's low-income housing empire was collapsing, leaving many African-American families in buildings riddled with problems -- including squalid living conditions, vacant apartments, lack of heat, squatters and drug dealers. The building in Englewood was one of 30 Rezmar rehabbed in a series of troubled deals largely financed by taxpayers. Every project ran into financial difficulty. More than half went into foreclosure, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.

"Their buildings were falling apart,'' said a former city official."They just didn't pay attention to the condition of these buildings.''

Eleven of Rezko's buildings were in Obama's state Senate district. Obama, now a U.S. senator running for president, has come under fire over his friendship with Rezko, who was charged last fall with demanding kickbacks on state business deals under Gov. Blagojevich. Much of the criticism has centered on two real estate deals involving Obama's South Side mansion. In the first, Obama paid $300,000 less than the asking price for a doctor's home, while Rezko's wife paid the doctor full price for the vacant lot next door. Then -- a few months before Rezko was indicted -- Obama bought part of that lot from Rezko's wife.

But Obama's ties with Rezko go beyond those two real estate sales and the political support, the Sun-Times found. Obama was an attorney with a small Chicago law firm -- Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland -- that helped Rezmar get more than $43 million in government funding to rehab 15 of their 30 apartment buildings for the poor.

But there are a host of unanswered questions. Here are just a few:

- Exactly how were the terms and timing arrived at that allowed Obama to buy the house at a $300,000 discount, while Mrs. Rezko paid full price?

- Given that Rezko was already publicly known to be under investigation, what persuaded Obama to still deal with him?

- When did Obama realize that Rezko, a low-income slum housing developer, had 11 failed properties in Obama's state Senate district alone? Or that Rezko was defaulting on taxpayer-funded deals at the same time he was still an Obama political benefactor?

- Was there, at the least, the appearance of a conflict of interest between Obama's legal work for low-income Rezco-connected developers and Obama's responsibilities as a state senator?

Rezko was indicted in October for allegedly trying to collect nearly $6 million in kickbacks from government deals and trying to shake down a Hollywood producer for $1.5 million in campaign contributions to Gov. Blagojevich.

Obama and Rezko have been friends since 1990, and the Wilmette businessman has raised as much as $60,000 in campaign contributions for him.

On Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, the Syrian-born businessman, real estate developer and political power broker had to accept the government's version of sartorial splendor. He was dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, white T-shirt, blue canvas Keds and leg shackles. He had spent the night in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in a tiny cell with a metal bunk beside a steel toilet. It was a long way from his stately Wilmette mansion.

Bad enough that he goes on trial in a few weeks on influence peddling and fraud charges involving his connections to state government. Now it is worse.

It's never a good idea to provoke a federal judge by having a shadowy Middle Eastern billionaire quietly wire you millions while you claim to be destitute.

Rezko's bond stands revoked. His base of operations will now be the dismal concrete fortress that houses federal prisoners in Chicago. Mobsters. Dope dealers. Bank robbers. Gang-bangers. And, last but never least, political operators.

2/5/2008, 09:24 PM
I'm confused. Did Obama own those apartments?

2/5/2008, 09:26 PM
No, his "friends" owned the slums, which were in Obama's district.

2/5/2008, 09:26 PM
Oh, you mean this guy?


2/5/2008, 09:27 PM
good article...very interesting

2/5/2008, 09:28 PM
Yep, that's him!

"You are known by the company you keep"

2/5/2008, 09:30 PM
Mrs. Clinton's Wal-Mart

New York Sun Editorial
February 6, 2006

Talk about perfect timing. The same day Senate records disclosed that Senator Clinton returned a $5,000 contribution from the political action committee of Wal-Mart, Quinnipiac University released a poll of 1,072 New York City registered voters and found that 51% of them support Wal-Mart opening stores in the city, while a scant 37% oppose it. The poll found that even in union households, 63% said if there was a Wal-Mart in their community they would shop there. Given the well-funded propaganda campaign that has been waged against Wal-Mart by its competitors and the labor unions, the ability of New York voters to see through to the facts is heartening.

So what are New Yorkers to make of Senator Clinton's apparent desire to distance herself from the company? It can't be that there's something intrinsic to Wal-Mart with which Mrs. Clinton has a problem. When Mrs. Clinton's husband was an Arkansas politician and she was the real breadwinner in the family, she served, between 1986 and 1992, as a member of Wal-Mart's corporate board of directors. Now, an aide explained to the Associated Press, Mrs. Clinton has "serious differences" with the company's practices.

We're not aware of any big differences between Wal-Mart's practices now and its practices in 1992 when Mrs. Clinton was part of the board responsible for its practices. No, the difference isn't Wal-Mart, it's Mrs. Clinton. When she was an Arkansas breadwinner and political wife she backed the company. Now she's not even pandering to New York voters - if she did, the poll shows, she wouldn't insult a company that a lot of us would like at least the choice to shop at. She's thinking way past the New York voters and has her eye on the labor union operatives and far left "netroots" moveon.org and Howard Dean crowd.

Betraying Wal-Mart may help Mrs. Clinton appeal to the left-wing activists who will choose the Democratic Party's 2008 nominee. But as Mrs. Clinton might remember, the last Democrat to get elected president did it by winning the votes of Wal-Mart shoppers. Senator Kerry spent the 2004 campaign denouncing Wal-Mart as a "disgraceful" example of "What is wrong with America." One can imagine Mr. Kerry shopping at a Wal-Mart only if one opened on Nantucket or in France. He lost the election. President Clinton, meanwhile, appeared in 2004 during the peak of the presidential campaign at a Fayetteville, Ark., Wal-Mart to sign copies of his memoir.

We don't mean to be too hard on Mrs. Clinton. Her newfound aversion to Wal-Mart has been widely and openly shared among left-wing elites, which is why the Democrat-dominated New York City Council is so ardent in its efforts to prevent the nation's largest retailer from opening a branch in the nation's largest city. Somehow, the shoppers find their ways to the everyday low prices, even in the suburbs. Making a show of contempt for a store where so many Americans shop is no way to win a political majority. We say, watch this issue. It'll portend whether Mrs. Clinton ends up a winner like her husband or a punch-line like the junior senator from Massachusetts.

Funny the skeletons you can find huh?

Scott D
2/5/2008, 09:33 PM
Some people try too hard.

2/5/2008, 09:37 PM
SHOCK a politician who has a shady friend.

Well color me surprised!:eek:

Scott D
2/5/2008, 09:41 PM
and quit listening to Ann Coulter. She's busy telling you what to think, while she's shmoozing with Al Sharpton.

2/5/2008, 09:42 PM
and quit listening to Ann Coulter. She's busy telling you what to think, while she's shmoozing with Al Sharpton.

I thought they were secretly married??

2/5/2008, 10:01 PM
Old story that he's already responded to...two years ago.

Obama on Rezko deal: It was a mistake

November 5, 2006
BY DAVE MCKINNEY AND CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporters Contributing: Mark Brown

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama expressed regret late Friday for his 2005 land purchase from now-indicted political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko in a deal that enlarged the senator's yard.

"I consider this a mistake on my part and I regret it," Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times in an exclusive and revealing question-and-answer exchange about the transaction.

In June 2005, Obama and Rezko purchased adjoining parcels in Kenwood. The state's junior senator paid $1.65 million for a Georgian revival mansion, while Rezko paid $625,000 for the adjacent, undeveloped lot. Both closed on their properties on the same day.

Last January, aiming to increase the size of his sideyard, Obama paid Rezko $104,500 for a strip of his land.

The transaction occurred at a time when it was widely known Tony Rezko was under investigation by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and as other Illinois politicians befriended by Rezko distanced themselves from him.

In the Sun-Times interview, Obama acknowledged approaching Rezko about the two properties being up for sale and that Rezko developed an immediate interest. Obama did not explain why he reached out to Rezko given the developer's growing problems.

Last month, Rezko was indicted for his role in an alleged pay-to-play scheme designed to fatten Gov. Blagojevich's political fund. Rezko also was accused of bilking a creditor.

"With respect to the purchase of my home, I am confident that everything was handled ethically and above board. But I regret that while I tried to pay close attention to the specific requirements of ethical conduct, I misgauged the appearance presented by my purchase of the additional land from Mr. Rezko," Obama said.

"It was simply not good enough that I paid above the appraised value for the strip of land that he sold me. 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, to believe that he had done me a favor," the senator said.

The land deal came up in a court hearing Friday that delved into Rezko's finances. Obama said he has not been approached by federal prosecutors about the transaction nor has plans to go to them about it.

Obama and Rezko have been friends since 1990, and Obama said the Wilmette businessman raised as much as $60,000 for him during his political career. After Rezko's indictment, Obama donated $11,500 to charity--a total that represents what Rezko contributed to the senator's federal campaign fund.

After the controversy surfaced on Wednesday, the Sun-Times presented Obama's office with a lengthy set of questions about the land deal, Obama's relationship with Rezko and the story's impact on a potential 2008 bid for the White House.

Here are his responses:

Q: Senator, when did you first meet Tony Rezko? How did you become friends? How often would you meet with him, and when did you last speak with him?

A: I had attracted some media attention when I was elected the first black President of the Harvard Law Review. And while I was in law school, David Brint, who was a development partner with Tony Rezko contacted me and asked whether I would be interested in being a developer. Ultimately, after discussions in which I met Mr. Rezko, I said no.

I have probably had lunch with Rezko once or twice a year and our spouses may have gotten together on two to four occasions in the time that I have known him. I last spoke with Tony Rezko more than six months ago.

Q:. Have you or your wife participated in any other transactions of any kind with Rezko or companies he owns? Have you or your wife ever done any legal work ever for Rezko or his companies?

A: No.

Q: Has Rezko ever given you or your family members gifts of any kind and, if so, what were they?

A: No.

Q: The seller of your house appears to be a doctor at the University of Chicago . Do you or your wife know him? If so, did either of you ever talk to him about subdividing the property? If you ever did discuss the property with him, when were those conversations?

A: We did not know him personally, though my wife worked in the same University hospital. The property was subdivided and two lots were separately listed when we first learned of it. We did not discuss the property with the owners; the sale was negotiated for us by our agent.

Q: Did you approach Rezko or his wife about the property, or did they approach you?

A: To the best of my recollection, I told him about the property, and he developed an interest, knowing both the location and, as I recall, the developer who had previously purchased it.

Q: Who was your Realtor? Did this Realtor also represent Rita Rezko?

A: Miriam Zeltzerman, who had also represented me in the purchase of my prior property, a condominium, in Hyde Park. She did not represent Rita Rezko.

Q: How do you explain the fact your family purchased your home the same day as Rita Rezko bought the property adjacent to yours? Was this a coordinated purchase?

A: The sellers required the closing of both properties at the same time. As they were moving out of town, they wished to conclude the sale of both properties simultaneously. The lot was purchased first; with the purchase of the house on the adjacent lot, the closings could proceed and did, on the same day, pursuant to the condition set by the sellers.

Q: Why is it that you were able to buy your parcel for $300,000 less than the asking price, and Rita Rezko paid full price? Who negotiated this end of the deal? Did whoever negotiated it have any contact with Rita and Tony Rezko or their Realtor or lawyer?

A: Our agent negotiated only with the seller's agent. As we understood it, the house had been listed for some time, for months, and our offer was one of two and, as we understood it, it was the best offer. The original listed price was too high for the market at the time, and we understood that the sellers, who were anxious to move, were prepared to sell the house for what they paid for it, which is what they did.

We were not involved in the Rezko negotiation of the price for the adjacent lot. It was our understanding that the owners had received, from another buyer, an offer for $625,000 and that therefore the Rezkos could not have offered or purchased that lot for less.

Q: Why did you put the property in a trust?

A: I was advised that a trust holding would afford me some privacy, which was important to me as I would be commuting from Washington to Chicago and my family would spend some part of most weeks without me.

Q: A Nov. 21, 1999, Chicago Tribune story indicates the house you bought "sits on a quarter-acre lot and will share a driveway and entrance gate with a home next door that has not yet been built." Is this shared driveway still in the mix? Will this require further negotiations with the Rezkos?

A: The driveway is not shared with the adjacent owner. But the resident in the carriage house in the back does have an easement over it.

Q: Does it display a lack of judgment on your part to be engaging in real estate deals with Tony Rezko at a point his connections to state government had been reported to be under federal investigation?

A: I've always held myself to the highest ethical standards. During the ten years I have been in public office, I believe I have met those standards and I know that is what people expect of me. I have also understood the importance of appearances.

With respect to the purchase of my home, I am confident that everything was handled ethically and above board.

But I regret that while I tried to pay close attention to the specific requirements of ethical conduct, I misgauged the appearance presented by my purchase of the additional land from Mr. Rezko. It was simply not good enough that I paid above the appraised value for the strip of land that he sold me. 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, to believe that he had done me a favor. For that reason, I consider this a mistake on my part and I regret it.

Throughout my life, I have put faith in confronting experiences honestly and learning from them. And that is what I will do with this experience as well.

Q: Why did you not publicly disclose the transaction after Rezko got indicted?

A: At the time, it didn't strike me as relevant. I did however donate campaign contributions from Rezko to charity.

Q: Have you been interviewed by federal investigators about this transaction or about your relationship with Rezko? If not, do you intend to approach them?

A: I have not been interviewed by federal investigators. I have no reason to approach them.

Q: Did Rezko or his companies ever solicit your support on any matter involving state or federal government? Did Al Johnson, who was trying to get a casino license along with Tony Rezko, or Rezko himself ever discuss casino matters with you?

A: No, I have never been asked to do anything to advance his business interests. In 1999, when I was a State Senator, I opposed legislation to bring a casino to Rosemont and allow casino gambling at docked riverboats which news reports said Al Johnson and Tony Rezko were interested in being part of. I never discussed a casino license with either of them. I was a vocal opponent of the legislation. (http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory/srollcalls91/pdf/910SB1017_05251999_001000C.PDF)

Q: Has this disclosure about your relationship with Rezko changed your thoughts about a White House run?

A: No. As I have said, how I can best serve is something I will think about after the 2006 election next Tuesday.

Q: Did Rezko ever discuss with you his dealings with Stuart Levine, Christopher Kelly or William Cellini or the role he was playing in shaping Gov. Blagojevich's administration?

A: No.

Q: Are the Obamas the only beneficiaries of the land trust?

A: Yes.

Q: Are you aware of any efforts by previous owners to develop what is now the Rezko lot, possibly as townhomes?

A: I was not aware of any prior effort by the seller to develop the property, but always understood the other lot was to be developed upon sale.

Q: Did Rezko have an appraisal performed for the 10-foot strip?

A: I had an appraisal conducted by Howard B. Richter & Associates on November 21, 2005.

Q: Was there a negotiation? Did he have an asking price, or did he just say, whatever you think is fair?

A: I proposed to pay on the basis of proportionality. Since the strip composed one-sixth of the entire lot, I would pay one-sixth of the purchase price of the lot. I offered this to Mr. Rezko and he accepted it.

Q: How many fundraisers has Mr. Rezko hosted for you? Were these all in his home? How much would you estimate he has raised for your campaigns?

A: He hosted one event at his home in 2003 for my U.S. Senate campaign. He participated as a member of a host committee for several other events. My best estimate was that he raised somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000.

2/5/2008, 10:01 PM
doubled up...dangit.

2/5/2008, 10:14 PM
I don't the Clintons wanna talk about shady dealings now do they?

Harry Beanbag
2/5/2008, 11:30 PM
I think it's sadly hilarious how blindly devoted ordinarily intelligent and normal citizens become to these two-bit crooked politicians. They are all shady, would sell their morals and dignity for a vote, and don't give a hair off a rat's *** about anybody but themselves.

I'm just about done giving a **** about politics completely.

2/5/2008, 11:52 PM
I'm just about done giving a **** about politics completely.

That my friend is why I am an independent. I just pull for the perceived lesser of the two evils

2/5/2008, 11:58 PM
Corruption surrounding an Illinois--Chicago, no less--politician? SHOCKING!

Dig hard enough--i.e., not very hard at all--and you'll find dirt on any big-league politician. You don't rise to the top by being squeaky clean. Honest people get real jobs.

Eh...that's probably not fair. I think that many politicians do have good intentions, but then they get sucked in by The System.

2/6/2008, 12:04 AM
I call Obama, "Morpheus."

Sounds like he's giving the last speach to Zion every time he talks.

2/6/2008, 12:06 AM
Man, he gave that kid an internship for a whole month!!!

I'm not saying that BHO is above reproach, but he was a lawyer and the article points out a time where he was representing the slimy dude. Lawyers rep slimy dudes on a millisecond basis.
And I agree a LOT with what Klatt said.