Posted by: iam0nly1 | June 5, 2008

Rezko: Evolution of Truth (Part One)

Months ago, when the Rezko connection first hit the news, I went digging in an attempt to connect the dots between the inconsistencies (to put it mildly) in Obama’s characterizations of his relationship with now convicted Rezko and the truth. This is a four part installment. Here is the first:

Democrats at first South Carolina debate.
Antion “Tony” Rezko’s name officially entered the Presidential Campaign trail on April 26, 2007 during the first South Carolina Democratic debate. Senator Obama, was confronted by the moderator with a reference to a newly released Chicago Sun-Times article tying him with Rezko “who was charged last year for demanding kickbacks on Illinois business deals.”
Here are the relevant excerpts from that article:
“But put the pedal to the metal and ask Illinois’ junior senator new and serious questions about his radioactive, federally indicted, former friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko, and suddenly this gleaming presidential hopeful and paragon of new politicsbehaves just like any other dissembling, dismissive Chicago pol, ducking the discussion while pretending not to.”
“For five long weeks, Sun-Times’ investigative reporter Tim Novak called, e-mailed, requested, practically pleaded with Obama’s press people to provide information about the senator’s relationship to Rezko when it came to the development of low-income housing in Chicago. In an abundance of fairness and an excess of solicitousness, Novak sent a list of questions.
For five weeks, no answer.
Jointly, on behalf of both the Sun-Times and NBC5 News, Novak and I sent Obama’s campaign requests to interview the senator for both print and television.
Again, no answer.”
The Moderator asked, in light of his ties with Rezko, “Aren’t you practicing the very same kind of politics that many of the others on this state have engaged in?”
Senator Obama sparring with Senator Clinton at CNN Debate.
Obama, quickly responded, “Well, not all, we have thousands of donors. This donor engaged in some ethical [sic] behavior and I have denounced it.”
So, according to Senator Obama in April of 2007, Rezko should be regarded as just one of thousands of donors. We learn much later, this was a shocking underrepresentation and indeed, a misrepresentation of the facts.
Well, let’s begin by taking Senator Obama at his word about Rezko and consider him just one of thousands of voters.

So, What About Those Donations?

“Faster Barack, you’re gaining on Hillary…but your past is catching up with you.”
Sen. Obama first addresses the amount of Rezko contributions in November of 2006 in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times giving his “best estimate”.

November 2006

In a written response to interview questions submitted by the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama leads us to believe that Rezko was only responsible for or associated with $50,000-$60,000 worth of campaign contributions:

Q: How many fundraisers has Mr. Rezko hosted for you? Were these all in his home? How much would you estimate he has raised for your campaigns?

A: He hosted one event at his home in 2003 for my U.S. Senate campaign. He participated as a member of a host committee for several other events. My best estimate was that he raised somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000.

June 2007

Seven months later, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Rezko’s contributions are actually three times what Sen. Obama originally confessed to in his written statement:

“During his 12 years in politics, Sen. Barack Obama has received nearly three times more campaign cash from indicted businessman Tony Rezko and his associates than he has publicly acknowledged, the Chicago Sun-Times has found. Obama has collected at least $168,308 from Rezko and his circle. Obama also has taken in an unknown amount of money from people who attended fund-raising events hosted by Rezko since the mid-1990s. But seven months ago, Obama told the Sun-Times his “best estimate” was that Rezko raised “between $50,000 and $60,000″ during Obama’s political career.”

January 28, 2008

Senator Obama and long time friend and contributor, Tony Rezko.
Roughly another seven months pass, and in January of 2008, ABC News digs deeper, and finds that Obama, in contradiction to his claims that he’s donated to charity all contributions associated to Rezko, has kept $100,000 of donations tied to Rezko:
“Despite claims over the weekend from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama that his campaign had given away all the donations connected to accused fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko, the campaign has not returned more than $100,000 in donations from Rezko’s wife and 20 other Rezko-linked donors, according to an ABCNews.com review.”
In the article,Obama’s campaign denies these claims insisting they have indeed donated all monies tied to Rezko:
“The campaign has donated to charity more than $85,000 of Rezko-linked contributions since Rezko was indicted on federal fraud charges in the fall of 2006. Burton said the campaign’s best estimate of what Rezko has raised is $60,000, including contributions from a fundraiser Rezko held for Obama in 2003, but acknowledges that it does not have an exact record of what Rezko raised.”
Strangely, Burton is still clinging to the $60,000 estimate that was debunked the previous June.

January 30, 2008

Two days after the blanket denials, in an ABC report, the Obama camp is forced to come clean:

“The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is donating to charity an additional $72,650 in contributions linked to Antoin “Tony” Rezko. The donations come after an ABCNews.com review found that the campaign had kept tens of thousands in contributionsfrom Rezko’s wife, family and employees of his businesses, despite claims made by Obama that the campaign had returned all contributions linked to the accused political fixer.”

Burton is quick to say that with this donation to charity, all funds that could possibly be associated with Rezko have been accounted for:

“Campaign Spokesperson Bill Burton said, ‘By refunding these donations, the campaign has returned any and all funds that could be reasonably credited to Mr. Rezko’s political support.” With the latest donations, Obama has returned a total of $149,985 in contributions from Rezko and his associatessince Rezko was indicted on federal fraud charges in the fall of 2006.”

March 14, 2008

After having claimed just 2 months earlier that all funds tied to Rezko had been accounted for and returned, it seems under pressure to fully disclose, and already in a media storm surrounding his former pastor and 20 year mentor and friend, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Senator Obama decided it was politically wise to just dump all his skeletons and reveal previous distortions about Rezko.

Politico reports:

“Barack Obama on Friday [March 14, 2008] acknowledged that he had substantially underrepresented the cash raised for his earlier campaigns by indicted businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko. 

But Obama’s campaign said it could not donate to charity as much as $90,000 in newly acknowledged Rezko-linked contributions because the old campaign accounts were closed and the money spent. 

Obama’s acknowledgment that Rezko raised as much as $250,000 for earlier campaigns, initially made in an interview with The Chicago Tribune and confirmed later to Politico, came after a year-and-a-half-long trickle of admissions about Rezko’s fundraising role and more than a month after Obama’s aides contended that they had identified and jettisoned all Rezko-linked cash. It also came as Rezko’s trial on corruption charges, underway in Chicago, brought increased scrutiny of Obama’s ties to the real estate developer, fast-food magnate and political insider.”

Antoin “Tony” Rezko
Lastly, on March 15, 2008, according to the Chicago Tribune, Obama admits that Rezko was not only one of his first substantive contributors, but was on multiple finance committees including the finance committee for his 2004 Senate campaign.
“When Obama launched his bid for the Illinois Senate in 1995, Rezko was his first substantial contributor. Obama said it was his “best guesstimate” that Rezko raised $10,000 to $15,000 of Obama’s roughly $100,000 collected for that race. Obama said he didn’t have more certainty because he didn’t then have the staff to maintain better campaign finance records.
Rezko helped bankroll all of Obama’s subsequent campaigns except his presidential bid. Rezko was on Obama’s campaign committee in his failed run against U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and gathered between $50,000 and $75,000 of the estimated $600,000 raised in that race, Obama said.
Rezko also was on the finance committee for Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate run.”
Over the span of a year and half the Obama campaign has given at least three different answers to the simple question of how much money has been donated by and can be tied to Rezko. Each time, we have been assured that the new higher number accounts for all of the funds. The very first answer was given by Obama in a written statement – he wasn’t in a face-to-face interview, meaning he had plenty of time to go through the records and get the correct number.
According to ABC News who broke the story in January that Obama still had monies donated by Rezko:
“The Obama campaign statements have left some campaign finance watchdogs perplexed. “I don’t understand why they didn’t do a top-to-bottom audit and divest themselves of these funds,” said Cynthia Canary of the Illionois Campaign for Political Reform.’
At the least, Sen. Obama and his campaign were not proactive enough in finding and divulging the truth of the amount Rezko donated. At worst, they knew the amount all along, and lied about it. It would seem the latter is most likely true, being that once a media storm hit, they suddenly produced what they now claim is the correct amount, and admit misrepresenting the amount. Moreover, they are now forthright about the fact that Rezko was a member of his campaigns – the same position they demanded Geraldine Ferraro be removed from for statements they found unflattering and characterized as racially insensitive.
In short, either Senator Obama has a horrible memory outpaced only by horrible accounting skills and an incompetent staff, or he and his staff have purposely misrepresented the truth. While the latter is admittedly truth, both reflect poorly on his judgment and ability to be the President of the United States of America.
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Responses

  1. It seems ABC News is the only mainstream news organization that actively questions Obama. Take the overly-criticized ‘final’ debate, for instance, which went after Obama as they rightly should have. I look forward to seeing the next three installments. I’m sure that this Rezco issue will come up in November, but by whom will it be accurately and thoroughly reported?


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