Barack Obama's connection to Tony Rezko may rival his Rev. Wright ties as a damaging electoral issue. Wright is a racist, and Rezko is an alleged crook currently on trial. As with Wright, Obama's handling of the matter is only making things worse. Obama does not seem to be able to handle controversy well, apparently believing that his misstatements will escape close examination.
Rick Pearson and John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune report:
Hat tip: Ed Lasky
Late last week, Sen. Barack Obama said he didn't recall meeting a controversial Iraqi-born billionaire at a party held at the home of his former friend and fundraiser, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, on April 3, 2004, because it was in the midst of his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.
Obama didn't deny the assertion of Stuart Levine, a key witness in Rezko's federal fraud trial, that the now-Democratic presidential contender attended the party held on behalf of Nadhmi Auchi, a British citizen appealing a fraud conviction in France. Rezko was allegedly trying to partner up with Auchi and may have been using an Obama appearance to demonstrate clout.
"I just don't have a recollection of the event," Obama said Friday. "As I said, I was in the middle of running a U.S. Senate race. So, you know, I was speaking all the time, probably six, seven, eight times a day."
Obama may not recall Rezko's party for Auchi, but he was not in the "middle" of a U.S. Senate race or speaking all the time. The Saturday party was held less than three weeks after Obama had won the March 16 Democratic primary nomination and, as is tradition, the candidates slow their immediate post-primary campaign schedules considerably before reheating the fall general election contest in late summer.
Indeed, an archived copy of an Obama "upcoming events" schedule on his old Senate campaign web site shows that on a Saturday two weeks later, he had no personal campaign activities. On Friday, April 13, the web site shows Obama touring Illinois coal-country at four morning events with the state's senior senator, Dick Durbin.