During the first Democratic Party debate Barack Obama was asked about his relationship with his indicted slumlord friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko.
Brian Williams: “You’ve promised in your campaign a new kind of politics, but just this week the Chicago Sun-Times reported on questionable ties you have with a donor who was charged last year for demanding kickbacks on Illinois business deals. Aren’t you practicing the very same kind of politics that many of the others on this stage have engaged in?”
Obama responded in part: “Well, not all, we have thousands of donors. This donor engaged in some ethical (sic) behavior and I have denounced it.”
We assume that Obama mispoke when he referred to his slumlord friend as “ethical”.
Since that first debate we have been looking for, but have yet to find a statement in which Obama has “denounced” Rezko. The closest we have come to finding a statement by Obama referring to slumlord Rezko, now indicted on corruption and influence peddling charges, is the very legalistic question and response Obama himself provided: “Should I have known these buildings were in a state of disrepair? My answer would be that it wasn’t brought to my attention.” and “One of the perils of public life is that you end up being responsible for, or you’re held responsible for, associations that you didn’t necessarily know were a problem.” These are hardly denunciations. The words from Obama’s mouth are right on target however, Obama should have known and he will be held responsible.
Why Obama has not clearly and repeatedly denounced the indicted Rezko is a mystery. We can’t imagine that Obama is afraid of what Rezko could say in response. Obama will eventually have to honestly respond to questions about his relationship with Rezko. When primary season begins in 2008 the Rezko trial will begin. It behooves David Axelrod and Barack Obama to get the full story out now of Obama’s entanglements with Rezko. Strong and repeated public denunciations of Rezko, who after all abused then State Senator Obama’s constituents, would seem to be a necessary beginning to allay growing suspicions.
Obama at the time was a State Senator representing the mostly African-Americans who lived in the Rezko owned tenements. These residents of the Rezko owned tenements presumably contacted elected officials when they found themselves living in substandard housing and freezing in the winter. Where was Obama with consitutent services? Obama should have known and it strains credulity to think he did not know. Obama had helped Rezko obtain government subsidies for these tenements and we presume some type of due diligence was performed by Obama in which he would uncover the nature of the Rezko housing. [“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.“]
There is also an increasing health care industry connection emerging in these Obama-Rezko scandals. For instance, we became aware of the Obama-Rezko connection due to their real estate dealings which we have outlined in several posts including Obama Fights the Facts. We emphasize that the house Obama purchased originally included the side yard which Obama requested be sold as a separate lot because he could not afford the full price of the property. Obama’s good friend Rezko then purchased the side lot, which is accessible only from Obama’s house, not from the street, and which Obama has thus far paid to have the grass mowed. The seller of the house and side yard property has not been revealed by name yet. We do know the seller was a medical practitioner. [“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.”]
As has been reported, Rezko showered politicians with money and raised money for them as well. One of the biggest recipients of Rezko financial assistance was former Cook County Board President John Stroger.
Michelle Obama worked for the University of Chicago hospitals. Michelle Obama’s role in the real estate deals between Obama and Rezko are due to her former membership in the Chicago Landmarks Commission.
As the Chicago Tribune article announcing the donations of questionable campaign contributions by the Obama campaign points out, a lot of the characters emerging in these latest revelations are connected to the Stroger Hospital. Dr. Paul Ray was chairman of the urology division of Stroger Hospital. Dr. Ray was also involved in the pizza parlor deals which are now involved in criminal proceedings in court. The Stroger Hospital is now run by Todd H. Stroger who is also President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
As we have written before, The Obama-Rezko “house story stripped to its essentials actually appears to be rather simple: (a) Barack Obama and/or his wife decided they wanted to buy a certain house — but unfortunately the house cost $2,305,000; (b) the Obamas either did not want to have the appearance of such luxury digs snuff out their Lincolnesqe facade or they actually did not have the money; (c) in either case, Barack Obama somehow saw the deal to a successful end when the sellers of the house divided the property into 2 separate lots; (d) one lot contained the house and; (e) the other lot contained the large yard; (f) the Obamas then purchased the lot with the house (at a discount of $300,000) for $1.65 million; (g) they were happy; (h) on the very same exact day a rich friend of Obama purchased the lot with the yard at full price ($625,000); (i) eventually Obama would buy from his friend a chunk of the yard.”
The story of the Obama house purchase is more and more merely a window to the larger and uglier revelations of Obama’s real estate legal work for Rezko and his company Rezmar. The increasing cast of characters from the medical establishment and their involvement in Obama-Rezko real estate deals were foreshadowed by the Obama house purchase.
It should be clear to the Obama’s, the Obama Campaign, and David Axelrod that the full facts of Obama’s dealings with Rezko must be dealt with. They must stop stonewalling the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. Both newspapers will keep digging because the stink surrounding this story is growing stronger with every story that is published. The truth is going to emerge.