February 26, 2008
The Obama-Rezko plot thickens (updated)
The UK Times reports that Barack Obama's involvement with Chicago slum landlord Tony Rezko, currently under indictment, may involve money originating from a British-Iraqi Middle East wheeler-dealer, Nadhmi Auchi, a convicted criminal.
Rezko, an Obama fundraiser, helped facilitate Obama's purchase of a $1.65 million mansion in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood for $300,000 below the asking price. The owner wished to sell both the house and an adjoining lot. Mrs. Rezko paid the full asking price of $625,000 on the same day that the Obamas purchased their luxury home. At a substantial discount. The seller denies that there was any connection between the two transactions. Later, a small portion of the land was sold to the Obamas so that they could expand their garden.
Senator Obama calls this arrangement a "mistake."
Now it develops that Mr. and Mrs. Rezko apparently lacked the money to make the purchase of the plot of land.
In a sworn statement a year later, Mrs Rezko said she got by on a salary of $37,000 and had $35,000 assets. Mr Rezko told a court he had "no income, negative cash flow, no liquid assets, no unencumbered assets [and] is significantly in arrears on many of his obligations."
Just weeks before the Hyde Park transactions, Auchi loaned $3.5 million to Rezko.
A company related to Mr Auchi, who has a conviction for corruption in France, registered the loan to Mr Obama's bagman Antoin "Tony" Rezko on May 23 2005. Mr Auchi says the loan, through the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA, was for $3.5 million.
There is much yet to be learned about the web of transactions involved, but it now appears that money originating from a convicted Middle Eastern wheeler-dealer found its way to indicted Chicago wheeler-dealer Tony Rezko, and then weeks later provided the means for a nearly simultaneous land transaction that enabled the Obamas to buy their home for substantially below asking price.
It certainly doesn't look like change we can believe in, when it comes to Chicago politics.
Update: much, much more from Chicagoan Rick Moran, writing at Rightwing Nuthouse:
The Obama-Rezko relationship must be understood in the context of the influence peddling, the casual corruption, the cronysm, the favoritism shown in less than open bidding – all part of a city and state political culture where the politician, the businessman, and the crook frequently rub elbows and sometimes wear each other’s hats. Obama hiring the daughter of a Rezko associate to work in his office (after Rezko had helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for his campaign) is no big deal. But this kind of “favor” done for Rezko is a different story:The Chicago Tribune: “On June 13, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that as a state senator, Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting Rezko’s successful bid to get more than $14 million from taxpayers to build apartments for senior citizens. The Sun-Times said the deal included $855,000 in development fees for Rezko and his partner, Allison S. Davis, Obama’s former boss, according to records from the project, which was four blocks outside Obama’s state Senate district.Obama now regrets his association with Rezko and has given $150,000 to charity in order to atone for his sins.
Sorry Barry but it don’t work that way.