The Senator From Rezko, Part I

“During his 12 years in politics, Sen. Barack Obama has received nearly three times more campaign cash from indicted businessman Tony Rezko and his associates than he has publicly acknowledged, the Chicago Sun-Times has found.”

“Obama has collected at least $168,308 from Rezko and his circle. Obama also has taken in an unknown amount of money from people who attended fund-raising events hosted by Rezko since the mid-1990s.”

Thus begins today’s entry in the continuing investigation by the Chicago Sun Times of Senator Barack Obama.

“But seven months ago, Obama told the Sun-Times his “best estimate” was that Rezko raised “between $50,000 and $60,000″ during Obama’s political career.”

We have written extensively on Obama and his indicted slumlord friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko. We have repeatedly warned David Axelrod, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama that this story is not going away. Not going away either is the story of the dirty politics anonymous memos the Obama campaign was peddling this past week. Again we say, Obama must answer all the questions about these issues in an honest and open way. So far Obama resists coming clean.

Chicago reporters, whose noses are as attuned to sniffing out corruption as French pig snouts are to locating truffles, must be twitching at this sentence: “Obama also has hung on to contributions from doctors whom Rezko helped appoint to a state-government panel involved in some of Rezko’s alleged fraud schemes.”

We previously noted the many connections between Obama and the medical community in these Obama – Rezko entanglements in posts such as Obama – Turning Pages, Part II. Not only was the Obama house purchase, which stinks like an unrefrigerated Chicago stockyard, a suspicious transaction – sold by a doctor and purchased by Obama and Rezko – but many doctors appear to be at least investors in the unsavory real estate deals for which Obama at least did legal work.

The Obama campaign is still posing as innocents incapable of doing anything unsavory even as evidence mounts that unsavory is their favorite dish. “We’ve made our best effort to run the most ethical campaign possible in all ways and release donations when appropriate,” Obama’s press secretary, Bill Burton, said Friday.” and “Burton said Friday the campaign was sticking by its original estimate that Rezko raised no more than $60,000.”

The Chicago Sun-Times however appears to have sources which dispute the Obama campaign. The sources confirm that Rezko was an integral part of the Obama fundraising machine. Rezko also assisted Obama at a “critical” time for the Obama Senate campaign when a good financial showing was needed. One source says “Tony was one of the biggest fund-raisers.”

At the time of the party, the state was in the process of foreclosing on a low-income apartment building Rezko’s company rehabbed in Obama’s state Senate district — a rehab project on which Obama’s law firm worked. Rezko had also abandoned many other low-income apartments, leaving numerous vacant units in need of major repairs.”

The Obama campaign continues to stonewall the investigations and questions being raised by his entanglements with Rezko. We will say again, these questions are not going to go away. Even if Obama could make Rezko questions disappear in the primary season and even if the Rezko trial scheduled for February 2008 were to avoid a media frenzy or even to get zero news coverage – Ripublicans will not let this go in the general election. Questions must be answered now. The likelihood is that the drumbeat for disclosure will grow louder and the perception will turn to cement that Obama is a dirty Chicago pol.

If the Obama campaign is under the delusion that this is going away here is some evidence for them to consider that it is not going away, but indeed will grow. We are loathe to quote any right wing show or outlet, particularly when it comes to discussions of the Democratic Party primary. We will quote from last week’s Tucker Carlson (ugh) June 14th show. We will make an exception now because there was a good Democrat on at the time who participated in the conversation. The guests were Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard (ugh) and former Maine Democratic Congressman Tom Andrews, National Director of Win Without War. Excerpts from the transcript:

FERGUSON: You know, and we are just getting to know him, that‘s the point of this time story and why it‘s so interesting. It shows why there has not been a serious presidential candidate from Illinois since 1956, Adlai Stevenson. Illinois politics is uniquely corrupt and anybody who succeeds in it is go going to, sooner or later, wind up in bed with a man like this Rezko fellow. Politics in Illinois keep guys like him around to help with a real estate deal here, or maybe to give their cousin a job, or you know, fill up a board seat there. You know, this is—you can‘t get away from this in Illinois politics and nobody has. And sure enough, Barack Obama is one of them.

CARLSON: I think his opponents are definitely banking on this. It actually doesn‘t look that great, Tom. This Rezko helped the Obamas‘ buy their house, a very expensive house. The “Times” reports, quote, “the land sale occurred after it had been reported that Mr. Rezko was under federal investigation.” Now this is odd behavior for anybody but particularly a politician who is running on his own personal ethics. What explains this?

ANDREWS: Well, we need to get a up-front explanation that is consistent. I think what Barak Obama has done is fallen in the track where you sort of try to dismiss the story before it takes hold. He says, well, he was a one time fundraiser, I really didn‘t know him very well. It turns out he has been involved in more than one campaign, in terms of fundraising.

CARLSON: Oh, yes, for years.

ANDREWS: He has had an on going relationship with him. So people will find out, obviously, it‘s going to get reported and the story is going to keep going and you are going to be backtracking and you are going to look like you‘ve got something to hide. That is the problem. I don‘t know if …

CARLSON: Well he is hiding! He is—already the campaign said, we never did—Barak Obama never did any favors for Mr. Rezko. According to the “New York Times,” the state legislature, Mr. Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting Mr. Rezko‘s business efforts from which he profited close to a million dollars. So he did do favors for the guy.

ANDREWS: Well, what Barak Obama has to do is address this particular story, that particular allegation. I mean, up to this point, if I—the story in today‘s “Times” says look, there was nothing improper here but the questions that it raises need to be addressed and it …

CARLSON: Right.

ANDREWS: Maybe there is, you know, an explanation which often times there is, that can straighten this out and clear things up. So just come out and lay it out.

CARLSON: But it fails the hypocrisy—Barack Obama gets up, I believe it was in New Hampshire recently, and gave a commencement speech at a University and he said I hope a lot of you don‘t do the obvious thing and chose money when you leave. Choose the highest paying job. Now here we find out that Barak Obama is living in this very expensive house that he got with the help of a sleazy campaign contributor. Basically, he‘s as greedy as anybody else. Maybe he shouldn‘t say things like that in public.

FERGUSON: But of course, I guess he means is he hasn‘t really made the killing that he might have been able to make as some Illinois politicians have been able to do.

His problem here now is now a second order problem, which is, how do you explain this sort of thing? And he hasn‘t explained it very well well. Partly there is a hypocrisy problem, but he also has come out and said my mistake was allowing this guy to help me with a real estate deal and do something that appeared to be a favor. Well, it didn‘t appear to be a favor, it was a favor. If this guy had hadn‘t interceded they wouldn‘t have been able to guy his $1.6 million house. And so now he finds himself, pretty soon he will have a third order problem which is to explain what he said in the second time—that the problem came around. So, you know, it is becomes a tar baby—

CARLSON: It is definitely bad judgment. I mean there‘s no doubt, it‘s like, buy your own house. You know what I mean? I think a normal person would have concluded that.

FERGUSON: Unavoidable, though, in Illinois.

CARLSON: In Illinois and you say that as someone from Chicago-land.

FERGUSON: Absolutely.

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5 thoughts on “The Senator From Rezko, Part I

  1. I am on the road for business. While I was driving, I was flipping around the radio stations. I found a talk radio show and listened briefly. The commentator was talking about this problem Obama has with Rezko. He was quite agitated about it. I was puzzled and surprised that the host was sitting in for Rush Limbaugh. I am not quite sure what it means that they’re talking about this in Limbaugh World, but I am struck that the story has legs. I am fairly certain that Hillary will win the nomination, but this Rezko story would cause us a great deal of trouble were Obama to get the nod.

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