Thursday, March 06, 2008

Why Democrats Should Want Clinton To Hang Tight

While some Democrats are wishing Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) would just go away, they could come to be thankful she's still in the race as an alternative to the largely unvetted Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). Right now the nation's top U.S. prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, has his eyes set on sending Gov. Rod Blagojevich's fixer, Tony Rezko, to jail for corrupt influence peddling with his trial getting under way this week. Those familiar with Fitgerald's prosecutorial history know he's really got his eye on an even bigger prize, Blagojevich. He's already sent one former Illinois governor to jail and the handwriting is on the wall that Blagojevich is just a short walk away from facing his own indictment. Unfortunately for Obama, Rezko is a little too close to him, having helped him out on the purchase of a pricey Georgian mansion on Chicago's southside. Up to now, it looked like little more than a case of bad judgment on Obama's part to get involved with any business transaction involving Rezko. A revelation from federal prosecutors recently is shedding an entirely different light on this story. As Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak writes:

Obama bought a mock Georgian mansion on Chicago's south side on June 15, 2005, the same day Rezko's wife bought a plot next door from the same seller. Obama then purchased from Rezko another parcel at above-market value. Federal prosecutors recently revealed that Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi billionaire who lives in London, wired $3.5 million to the financially strapped Rezko in Chicago less than a month before the Obama-Rezko purchases. James Bone, investigative reporter for the Times of London, wrote last Tuesday that "the money transfer raises the question of whether funds" from Auchi "helped" Obama buy his house .
. .

Obama has conceded his simultaneous home purchase with Rezko was a "boneheaded" mistake. He is returning $150,000 raised by Rezko and his associates, and is contributing to charity $72,650 in Rezko contributions. Asked by Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press" last Nov. 11 why he was "associating with such a person," Obama replied, "There was no evidence of wrongdoing," but added, "There's no doubt that it was a mistake on my part." He made clear he had cut off all contact with Rezko "since he got in trouble with the law."

But the case against Rezko prepared by the always determined U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald poses possible new pitfalls for the Democratic front-runner by introducing into the proceedings Auchi, who has been convicted on corruption charges in France and given a suspended sentence. While his friends describe Auchi and his family as victims of Saddam Hussein's tyranny, Pentagon sources call him a "bagman" who laundered money in London for the Iraqi dictator.

Chicago Sun-Times reporters Chris Fusco and Tim Novak asked last week how it was possible for Auchi to get government permission to visit Chicago in 2004 despite his French criminal conviction. Obama aides were quoted as saying Auchi never reached out to the senator, and representatives of both men say neither has any recollection of meeting the other. But the Times of London reported last week that "the two may have had a brief encounter" at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. It is an indistinct part of an indistinct story Hillary Clinton's handlers wish had attracted attention before now.
Let's sum it up. We have Tony Rezko, a Syrian native, who is known as a political fixer in Illinois Democratic politics. He's facing serious jail time if he's convicted, and he's a friend of Obama's, having helped him raised six-figure sums in campaign contributions--perhaps of dubious origin. We have Nadhimi Auchi, a corrupt Iraqi businessman involved in the Oil for Food scandal, wiring $3.5 million to Rezko about the same time as Rezko was helping out Obama with the purchase of his southside Chicago home. There is some debate about whether Auchi and Obama have actually met each other, although people are trying to figure out how Auchi was able to travel to Chicago, Obama's hometown, in 2004 with his criminal record in France. It doesn't necessary all add up to a crime, but if there is one there, you can bet Fitzgerald will root it out. Democrats would be wise to keep Clinton around for a little longer as insurance if for no other reason.


Anonymous said...

I am uncomfortable with Obama's association with Rezko, but isn't this small potatoes when compared to the Clinton's dealings through the years?

Gary R. Welsh said...

I hear what you're saying. There is enough out there on both Clintons that both should be barred from holding any public office. However, the Clintons always seem to have their way with convincing the media there's really nothing there

Political Season said...

The story strains to find a "there". Its a planted story for starters, tossed out to foreign media in order to get it picked up in the states. Secondly, the story makes a totally illogical leap by stating that Auchi wired money TO REZKO 3 weeks before Obama bought his own house with his own money, then suggests the Auchi money paid for Obama's house?! Rezko bought a strip of land the same day, which he later sold to Obama for more than it was worth. The Auchi money helped Rezko buy land, which Obama bought with still more of his OWN money and at a premium to boot. Seems like Obama got the short end of the stick. This is all guilt by association and smear. There is yet to be a single story about Rezko that makes the case for ANY wrongdoing by Obama of any sort. The facts as stated don't suggest anything. Its pure smear. This SAME set of facts has been repeated in the media again and again for months now, as though repeating these insinuations again and again will make them turn into something they are not. Its a cleverly orchestrated whisper campaign of the Clinton camp and her surrogates. Considering he leads the delegate and popular vote counts, its been real successful.

Anonymous said...

Even more troubling, McCain's association with the Keating/S&L fiasco of 1980.

That scam would be much more felonious today--it was so aggregious, the appraisal, lending, title and brokerage industries were forever changed as a result. The law that oversees most residential real estate transations, RESPA, was severely toughened largely as a result of this and the Neal Bush-Silverado scams.

And John McCain has never adeauqtely explained his role in the Keating mess.

The real bottom line? Young senators or would-be senators, who rise to that exclusive club without much money in their personal banks, are indeed appetizing prey to some folks. Should the politicians hahve known better? Probably. But I can see how it could've happened without laws being broken, in the Obama and McCain case. Thankfully, each has admitted their real estate deals were stupid.

Living and learning, on a pretty grand scale. I think you might be surprised that more than one local politician has done largely the same thing in recent years.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:49, aren't you a little worried you might be sleeping with the fishes come tomorrow morning?

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to see the discourse of this blog to become the denigration of Muslims who live in America.

Barack Obama isn't even Muslim, Gary, so what's up? I understand the critique of Carson, but you're jumping the shark here.

Anonymous said...

Remember also -- the Feds have revealed the "Public Official A" is Gov. Blagojevich, but they haven't revealed the second public official who has been under investigation: "Public Official B."

We won't know who "Public Official B" is until the Feds tell us, but I'm sure there are plenty of people hoping the "B" isn't prophetic.

Gary R. Welsh said...

"Barack Obama isn't even Muslim, Gary, so what's up?"

Excuse me, anon. 12:11, there is no mention anywhere in this post about Muslims. Don't confuse me with the campaign tactics of Hillary Clinton.

Anonymous said...

So far, Obama has been accused of
having his lawn mowing service
mow the vacant lot (owned by Reszko) next door to his (Obama's) house so that Obama's own yard would look equally freshly mowed, without sending Reszko a pro-rated invoice (based on square footage mowed in the respective lawn areas or time involved).

Wow. Maybe he'll also be charged with writing off a Newsweek subscription as a bsuiness expense
when the Newsweek was actually mailed to his home address (one of the actual counts filed against Leona Helmsley by our government).

Anonymous said...

It might be shocking to discover dirt about Obama but as Clinton has learned, a couple small mistakes (or misstatements) won't hurt you in the long run.

It's when you have as many as Clinton that they start to catch up to you.