Monday, November 06, 2006

Obama's Cozy Land Deal With Indicted Political Fundraiser

I have watched in amazement at how little discernment people have shown when it comes to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), who is little more than an empty suit with an inflated ego. Before Democrats get too far out front pushing him for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, they need to remind themselves that he is a product of one of the most corrupt political cultures in the U.S. A story this weekend in the Chicago Tribune about Obama's cozy little land deal with an indicted political fundraiser should give Democrats pause. The Tribune reports:

Sen. Barack Obama expressed remorse Saturday for a series of financial arrangements he made with an indicted political fundraiser to improve their adjoining South Side properties.

Obama has described his dealings with Antoin "Tony" Rezko as ethical and proper, but he now acknowledges the arrangement might have appeared improper.

"It was a mistake to have been engaged with him at all in this or any other personal business dealing that would allow him, or anyone else, to believe that he had done me a favor," Obama said in a written statement Saturday. "For that reason, I consider this a mistake on my part and I regret it."

Obama's remarks came in response to an article in Wednesday's Tribune that disclosed for the first time how he and Rezko's wife bought adjoining properties last year, then worked together to build a wrought-iron fence and make other improvements.

Though Obama answered questions in detail for that article, Saturday's statement marked his first direct expression of regret.The same day that Obama and his wife, Michelle, closed on a $1.65 million home, Rezko's wife, Rita, closed on a $625,000 vacant lot next door. Both lots had once been part of the same estate, but the owner listed them for sale separately.

Obama said he had discussed the home with Tony Rezko, but didn't know exactly when Rezko became interested in the vacant lot. In January, Obama paid Rezko $104,500 for part of the vacant lot to expand his own yard, balancing the space between his house and the fence.

Obama also paid thousands of dollars to an attorney and architects to inquire about the fence with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, partly because Obama's wife once worked there and because they wanted to ensure it was done properly, Obama said.

Rezko, however, was the one who was to pay for the fence, although that $14,000 bill has not been paid, the fence company told the Tribune.

Obama also pays his landscaper to mow Rezko's 7,500-square-foot yard. Obama said that he intends to have the landscaper figure out a pro-rata cost for that mowing and send that bill to Rezko, but that he hasn't yet done so.

During the 16 months Obama and Rezko cooperated on these matters, Rezko was reported to be under investigation by a federal grand jury.

Obama has been the beneficiary of nearly $20,000 in campaign contributions from Rezko, who was recently indicted on charges "he plotted to squeeze millions of dollars in kickbacks out of firms seeking state business, allegations that put him at the center of a growing scandal surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration."

I'm reluctant to believe in coincidences when it comes to land deals and politicians. If Obama expects us to believe it was a mere coincidence that the Rezkos closed on the empty lot next to their million-dollar home on the same day and nothing untoward occurred, he must think we're all pretty stupid. "I haven't been involved with [Rezko] in any legislative work whatsoever or any government activities of any sort," Obama also said. Of course, he's also appearing in a radio ad for Rep. Julia Carson (D) in which he says the two of them teamed up to pass legislation. Note that neither were principal authors of the legislation--just along for the ride. Obama is a show horse and not a work horse. I don't think it will be long before a lot other people start figuring that out.


Anonymous said...

Another shooting star who will never survive the spotlight of national politics.

Anonymous said...

We'll see

Anonymous said...

God, Gary, chill out. Your Republicanism is showing.

He's not runnning for president anyway. Too young and inexperienced.

There is some smoke here, but he's explained it sufficiently thus far. Let's allow it to play out.

Wilson46201 said...

Thank heavens for white Republican lawyers to tell us about how evil and corrupt elected African-American Democratic officials are!

I wish AdvanceIndiana could be just as hard on Black Republican Indiana state legislators or Black Republican Congresscritters ... oops there arent any! Who says white supremacy is over in the GOP?

The Illinois GOP went from the party of Jim Thompson to the party of Alan Keyes - it seems AI has followed the same sorry trajectory.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I am having an ever harder time finding anything to read on your blog that isn't filled with a vicious tone.

I know that emotions run high-- and you are both gay and moderate republican-- but not EVERY Democrat is eveil-- and not EVERY Republican is saving the world.

Try taking a chill pill and enjoying election day today. Do what the Star does and write a couple fluff pieces-- recharge the batteries-- and then come back.

I used to pass your stories along to friends... been a while since I could do that.

Anonymous said...

evil* sorry

Gary R. Welsh said...

Sorry anon 5:44, but he told Tim Russert that he was seriously considering a run in 2008. Wilson, you know nothing about the Illinois Republican Party and it shows. The Illinois Republican Party is to the left of the Indiana Democratic Party on social issues. There's not many in your Democratic Party here with any position of note that is as moderate as Judy Barr Topinka, the Republican candidate for Governor this year against the totally corrupt Blagoyevich. Isn't it time for you to head out and start tearing down Dickerson signs like you did in the primary to Kiser's signs?

Anonymous said...

So, using the Russert analagy, AI, if someone announces, you feel the need to bare your fangs?

I've done a lot of real estate deals in my life, and one was with a character I later found out was shady. If I'd known at the time I'd have run the other way. Sometimes these things are not what they appear.

And, sometimes, they are.
If he runs, he'll get little traction. Not enough experience.

LafBlog is right. Not everyone from the other party is evil, and not everyone from your party wears a white hat. I try to look beyond that. The Obama real estate deal may be shady.

I prefer to wait for the facts. On the surface, it appears harmless. Pricey, but harmless.

Wilson46201 said...

It was the disorganized and desperate Illinois Republican Party that had Alan Keyes two years ago as it's standard bearer for Senator against Obama. Nominating Keyes was really scraping the bottom of the barrel! Homer Simpson of Springfield would have been a more creditable and decent candidate - and probably would have garnered more than 27% of the vote!