Saturday, March 01, 2008


Barak Obama & Tony Rezko

Products of Chicago's sick political culture

Rick Moran takes a good look at the connections between Barak Obama and the indicted Tony Rezko, whose trial on fraud charges is scheduled to begin Monday. Moran explains how Rezko helped Obama purchase his dream house:
The sellers of the house also owned a vacant lot adjacent to the property. But since the lot could only be accessed through the property where the house sat, it would have been pretty worthless to anyone except the owner of the dwelling. Offering price for both: $2.6 million.

This turned out to be a little steep for Obama who had just received a $1.2 million advance on a book. No problem for Mr. Fixit. Obama went in on a deal where Mrs. Rezko plunked down $125,000 for the $625,000 vacant lot. The sellers say that they gave Obama a $300,000 discount because his was the highest bid. The fact that Obama was the only one bidding on the house raises some eyebrows considering the neighborhood and the market at the time. Obama claims the house had been on the market 3 months which is not a long time considering the $2 million asking price and the complication of the vacant lot next door.

By paying full freight for the vacant lot – a lot that could never be developed unless bought by Obama – Rezko got his pal his dream house at a substantial discount.

The sellers have declined to talk directly to the media and have answered questions through Obama campaign headquarters. This might be considered strange in some quarters. But not if you’re considered the new messiah of politics.

The Auchi “loan” could very well have financed the whole deal. Court documents a year later show Mrs. Rezko making a salary of $37,000 with $35,000 in assets. Poor Tony reported that he had “no income, negative cash flow, no liquid assets, no unencumbered assets [and] is significantly in arrears on many of his obligations.”

And that brings us to the final finagle; the sale of part of that vacant lot by Rezko to Obama.

It seems that Tony was in dire straits financially. He offered to sell a 10 X 150 foot parcel of the lot, valued at $40,500 dollars to Obama. His long time pal agreed, paying more twice the appraised value – $104,000. Obama claims it was to increase the size of his garden.

Some garden, huh?

For someone he supposedly barely knew, Obama and Rezko sure did each other a lot of favors.
Yes, they did.

Jay Stewart observes:
"We have a sick political culture," said Jay Stewart, the executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, "and that's the environment that Barack Obama came from."

Stewart says he does not understand why Obama has lectured others about corruption in Washington and Kenya but "been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state, including at this point, mostly Democratic politicians."
I don't understand this myself. Neither does Ed Morrissey, who raises a few questions:
For a man who promises to reform Washington, how much effort did he put into reforming Chicago and Illinois? He served in the state legislature for seven years. Did he attempt to start a reform movement, as Bobby Jindal has done in Louisiana? Or did his close relationship to a fixer like Rezko have something to do with any lack of crusading zeal?
I'm curious about Obama's opinions concerning the the culture of corruption in Chicago and Illinois and the record compiled by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Illinois politicians absolutely hate Fitzgerald because he has aggressively investigated government corruption and prosecuted political heavyweights, such as former governor George Ryan. He will be the prosecutor in Tony Rezko's trial. And, as a federal judge made clear, he has his sights set on Public Official A.

I have a question for Senator Obama: As president, would you re-appoint Patrick Fitzgerald as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois?


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