Tuesday, February 12, 2008

17 Year Relationship Between Obama & Slumlord Rezko - A Question of Judgement

From SwampPolitics.com on Janaury 23, 2008: "Beyond the heated sound bites is a story of a more complex relationship that long boosted Obama's political fortunes but now could prove a campaign liability.

For years after Rezko befriended Obama in the early 1990s, he helped bankroll the politician's campaigns. Then, after Obama's election to the U.S. Senate, Rezko engaged him in private financial deals to improve their adjoining South Side properties. Those arrangements became a source of lingering controversy after the Tribune first reported them in November 2006.

Now Rezko's federal corruption trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 25. As Obama stumps for votes, coverage of the high-profile proceedings could bring fresh, unwelcome reminders for Obama of Rezko's influence in the same Illinois political world that propelled the senator to a serious run at the presidency.
Both men declined to comment on their once-close friendship. Obama has been accused of no wrongdoing involving Rezko and has insisted that he never used his office to benefit Rezko.
Thus far, there is little in the public record to suggest otherwise, and the few exceptions that have come to light appear minor. On Capitol Hill, Obama once gave a summer internship to the son of a Rezko business associate on Rezko's recommendation. Earlier, as a state senator, Obama was one of several South Side political and community leaders who wrote state and city officials urging approval of public funding for a senior housing project involving Rezko.
But when Rezko pushed for passage in Springfield of a major gambling measure, Obama vocally opposed it.
Obama publicly apologized for his 2005 property deal with Rezko, calling it "boneheaded" because Rezko was widely reported to be under grand jury investigation at the time. And Obama has given to charities $85,000 in Rezko-linked campaign contributions, including $40,035 last weekend following a published report suggesting that Rezko funneled a $10,000 donation to Obama through a business associate. Aides to Obama say the senator had no knowledge of any such scheme..."