Obama and Rezko

Discussion in 'Politics' started by jreeves, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. jreeves
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    jreeves Senior Member

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    Hmm...someone hasn't been honest....what a suprise....

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/844634,obamasun031508.article

    Rezko helped bankroll Obama in five election runs — for the state Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. The savvy businessman with the North Shore mansion could bring in as much as $70,000 from political donors in one night. In the heat of a campaign, Obama said he sometimes talked strategy with Rezko daily.

    Then, during political down-times, Rezko was his lunch or breakfast companion, more concerned about Obama, his wife and daughters than with posing for snapshots with the senator as he rose from political obscurity to Democratic presidential hopeful. On one occasion, Obama recalled, they wiled away time with their wives at Rezko’s Lake Geneva estate.

    This portrait of Rezko emerged during an 80-minute interview Friday with the Chicago Sun-Times that marked the first time the senator has spoken in-depth about his relationship with the indicted businessman, who’s on trial on corruption charges involving allegations he orchestrated political kickback schemes in the Blagojevich administration.

    The interview followed months in which Obama had avoided questions about Rezko and tried to downplay their relationship. With the Pennsylvania primary looming in five weeks, Obama said he hoped to clear the air about his ties to Rezko.

    “We want to put the sense that we’re not being forthcoming behind us as quickly as possible,” Obama said.

    The senator disclosed that Rezko had raised far more campaign cash for him than previously known. He said he was “saddened” by his friend’s troubles but would be “disappointed” if Rezko ends up convicted. For the first time, Obama said he was disturbed that Rezko had allowed low-income housing Rezko developed to fall apart. And he said that, although he had made a mistake in buying a piece of property from Rezko, “Does it speak to a trend of mine? No.”

    Is Rezko still a friend?

    “Yes,” Obama said, “with the caveat that, obviously, if it turns out the allegations are true, then he’s not who I thought he was. And I’d be very disappointed with that.”

    Obama said he hasn’t talked with Rezko since the businessman’s October 2006 indictment. During their last conversation, Obama said he asked Rezko about his mounting legal problems, and Rezko responded that “his lawyers had been talking to the U.S. attorney’s office, and it’s all getting resolved.”

    Though Rezko was wrong on that front, Obama insisted there was nothing impure about his relationship with the Syrian immigrant who offered him a job out of Harvard Law School in 1990.

    “He never asked me for anything,” Obama said. “He never did any favors for me, other than obviously supporting my campaigns. He never gave me any gifts, gave me no indication he was setting me up to ask for favors in the future.”

    Obama acknowledged that Rezko had raised $250,000 for him — about $100,000 more than had previously been disclosed and about five times more than Obama conveyed during a November 2006 question-and-answer exchange with the Sun-Times.

    Obama also defended signing a 1998 letter urging the state to fund a low-income housing project developed by Rezko and Obama’s former boss, Allison Davis — both of whom were clients of Obama’s law firm as well as campaign contributors. Obama said he didn’t remember writing the “form letter” until the Sun-Times asked about it last June. This was not one of the Rezko developments that fell into disrepair.

    The senator began the unusual session with Sun-Times reporters and editors by recounting his relationship with Rezko, which he said began when Rezko and two of his partners tried to recruit him out of law school for a job at Rezko’s development firm, Rezmar. He said he met with them in Chicago for about 45 minutes.

    “My assessment of Tony Rezko was that he was an immigrant who had sort of pulled himself up by his bootstraps,” Obama recalled. “Somebody who was active not only in the political scene generally, but also had links to the African-American community. I think he saw me as somebody who had talent, but he was probably also intrigued by my international background and the fact that I had lived in Asia and that I knew something about his culture in the Middle East.”

    Obama turned down the job. But he continued to bump into Rezko, he said, because both were active in supporting former state Sen. Alice Palmer, whom Obama eventually would replace.

    “We were both active in Alice Palmer’s campaign, so I got to know him at that point, and he was obviously somebody who was supportive of political campaigns. So it’s not surprising that, when I decided I might be interested in running, it might be worthwhile asking him if he’d be interested in supporting me.”

    Rezko did just that. In the heat of Obama’s campaigns, the two men would talk daily. But once the politics died down, the senator said, they were simply friends.

    “We’d continue to have lunches or breakfasts. We’d talk about politics. We’d talk about family. . . . Even visited [his] home in Lake Geneva once for the day,” Obama said.

    “Something that I always appreciated was he was not one of these people who wanted pictures taken all the time or was constantly calling for you to show up at things. He was a very gracious individual.”

    Obama picked Rezko for the campaign finance committee for his 2004 U.S. Senate run. Around that same time, Rezko had begun walking away from affordable-housing projects he was building with government funds, leaving some in squalor — including some buildings in Obama’s own Illinois Senate district. Obama said he knew nothing of those problems.

    Had Obama known, he said he would have talked to Rezko about the problems. “I think it is deeply troubling he did not keep these properties up, and I am very disappointed in that,” Obama said.

    After Rezko helped Obama win the U.S. Senate seat, Obama approached Rezko about the house Obama now owns in Kenwood. The house has become a political headache for Obama because Rezko’s wife bought the vacant lot next door, with Obama and Rita Rezko closing on their transactions on the same day in June 2005.

    Lter, in January 2006, Obama bought a 10-foot-wide strip of Rita Rezko’s lot at a time when Rezko was widely known to be under federal investigation — a move Obama called “absolutely a mistake.”

    After touring the Kenwood home with Rezko and his real estate agent, Rezko “expressed some interest potentially in purchasing the lot,” which remains zoned to accommodate town homes or a small condominium building.

    “My basic view at that time was having somebody who I knew, a friend of mine, who would be developing the lot if he could, would be great. It would be somebody who we know.”

    Why didn’t alarm bells sound when it was known Rezko was under investigation? “Probably because I had known him for a long time, he had acted in an aboveboard manner with me, and I considered him a friend,” Obama said.

    Rita Rezko has since sold the lot, and plans call for a single-family home to be built there, Obama said.

    The deal remains campaign fodder for Obama’s presidential primary opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton. So does Rezko’s trial. It started two weeks ago, and Obama’s name has come up twice in court.

    Now, the senator has decided it was time to talk about his friend.

    “I’m saddened for him. I’m saddened for his family.”
     
  2. jreeves
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    jreeves Senior Member

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    If Obama lied about Rezko what makes you think he is speaking the truth now about his pastor??:eusa_liar:
     
  3. Larkinn
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    Larkinn Senior Member

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    What exactly did he say that was a lie?
     
  4. jreeves
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    jreeves Senior Member

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    Obama acknowledged that Rezko had raised $250,000 for him — about $100,000 more than had previously been disclosed and about five times more than Obama conveyed during a November 2006 question-and-answer exchange with the Sun-Times.
     
  5. Larkinn
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    Larkinn Senior Member

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    Here:

     
  6. jreeves
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    jreeves Senior Member

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  7. Larkinn
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    Larkinn Senior Member

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    I'm curious as to why you quoted the paraphrased version, and not what Obama actually said. Not as convenient for you ?

     
  8. jreeves
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    jreeves Senior Member

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    "for several other events"....So know he's saying the Sun-Times misstated what the truth was, interested they didn't retract that part of the story after he pointed it out to them.
     
  9. Larkinn
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    Larkinn Senior Member

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    Umm, he didn't "point it out to them". The interview was included in the article that you apparently didn't read completely.
     
  10. jreeves
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    jreeves Senior Member

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    And they still stated,
    Obama acknowledged that Rezko had raised $250,000 for him — about $100,000 more than had previously been disclosed and about five times more than Obama conveyed during a November 2006 question-and-answer exchange with the Sun-Times.
     

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