Posted by: iam0nly1 | June 10, 2008

Rezko: Evolution of Truth (Part Two)

Rezko and the Property: Just a Coincidence

In November of 2006 the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story of Senator Obama’s house deal that involved Rezko. Here’s what we know:

In June 2005, Obama and Rezko purchased adjoining parcels in Kenwood. Obama paid $1.65 million for a Georgian revival mansion, $300,000 less than the asking price, while Rezko paid the full $625,000 for the adjacent, undeveloped lot. Both closed on their properties on the same day.        

In January, 2006, aiming to increase the size of his sideyard, Senator Obama engaged in another deal with Rezko. Obama paid Rezko $104,500 for a 10-foot-strip of his land.

How did the deal come to be?

Senator Obama’s answer, or answers as it were, to this simple question, are varied and often contradictory. 

November 2, 2006

When questioned by the Chicago Sun-Times about how Rezko came to know about the lot and the house, Obama characterized it as a coincidence and claimed he did not recall many of the pertinent details:

I don’t recall exactly what our conversations were or where I first learned, and I am not clear what the circumstances were where he made a decision that he was interested in the property. I may have mentioned to him the name of [a developer and] he may at that point have contacted that person. I’m not clear about that.”

Obama seems very hazy here, but two days later his answers become more clear, but still noncommittal. 

November 5, 2006

In a written response to questions submitted by the Chicago Times, Obama had this to say about who approached who and how Rezko came to know about the property:

Q: Did you approach Rezko or his wife about the property, or did they approach you?

A: To the best of my recollection, I told him about the property, and he developed an interest, knowing both the location and, as I recall, the developer who had previously purchased it.

Okay, so now, Obama told Rezko about the property, and Rezko, because he already knew about the location and the developer, developed an interest in the property. If Rezko already knows about the property and the developer, why does he only become interested in buying the property after Obama reveals his interest in the property? I will not speculate, but it is a question that deserves an answer. 

December 2006

Less than a month later, Obama adds that a second phone call was made, during which Rezko told him he intended to buy the empty lot next to the house and build on it

The Washington Post reported:

Obama said Rezko, who knows the neighborhood, was one of several people he called for advice on the real estate market. Rezko told him he knew the developer who renovated the house. In a later conversation, Rezko said he intended to buy the empty lot and build on it.

Okay, at this juncture, Obama has told us that the deal manifested from at least two phone conversations between he and Rezko about the property. During one conversation, Obama let him know he was interested in the property and Rezko told him he knew the developer. In a second conversation, Rezko says he is going to buy the lot and build on it. 

February 2008

More than a year later, the story changes. Now, it is reported in addition to two phone calls, Obama and Rezko took a tour of the property together

Burton said Obama, 46, toured the property with Rezko for 15 to 30 minutes at some point before the purchase. Burton said Obama wanted Rezko’s opinion of the property because Rezko was a real-estate developer in the area. Burton said he didn’t know when the pre-sale tour occurred.

Okay, so now there were two phone calls and a joint tourObama’s spokesman feels it important to say that they toured the property together because Obama wanted Rezko’s opinion. It seems more likely that the two were looking at the property because both of them wanted to purchase parts of it. Obama has already admitted to this much – why is Burton attempting to change the story? Further, why is there no approximate date given? The tour was either before the calls, after or between the calls. 

March 8, 2008

As of March 8, questions still abound surrounding the house deal.

Aerial view of the Obama home and adjoining Rezko lot.
“It’s still unclear exactly how Rezko came to buy the side yard…The spokesman could not specify when, exactly, this tour had occurred — before Obama had made successive bids on the home in January of 2005, or after.”

March 15, 2008

On March 15, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune Obama effectively changes his story altogether in an attempt to set the record straight during the Rev. Wright media firestorm. Now, according to Obama, in the beginning someone else had an option to buy the side lot, but once Obama told Rezko he was bidding on the house, Rezko took over the option to buy from the previous individual

Obama also recants some aspects of his earlier story, saying he “does not recall when he learned that Rezko was interested in the buying the side lot – or even how Rezko learned it was for sale.” This is strange, considering in November and December of 2006, Obama said it was he who told Rezko about the property, and that in a phone conversation, Rezko told him he wanted to buy the lot and build it

Elucidating on the phone conversation (of which he cannot recall the approximate date) Obama says Rezko revealed, he “might be interested.”

According to Obama:

“My response was, ‘Well, that would be fine.'”
His motivation being, “if this lot is going to be developed, here’s somebody I knew. So I didn’t object.”

But what about his previous omission of the joint tour? Obama says, “he simply didn’t feel the information was salient and insisted the tour didn’t mean he and Rezko coordinated their purchases.”

Here, Obama, admits to consciously withholding information in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

As for the land deal as a Rezko favor? 

“Obama said Rezko ‘perhaps thought this would strengthen our relationship, that he was doing me a favor.’ However, Obama was quick to add he thought Rezko was making a good business decision in buying the lot. So, it was a win-win for Rezko – do a favor for a politician (obviously in hopes of a return) and make money.” 

Vacant lot next to Sen. Obama’s home is now for sale.
Lastly, what about the claims that Rezko was going to build on the lot? Well, after selling a 10-foot-wide strip to Obama so that he could widen his yard, Rezko sold the rest of the lot to one of his former attorneys, who has listed it for sale for more than $900,000. According to Obama, “It appears as sale is about to be consummated.”

In other words, it appears that Rezko purchased the lot as a favor for Obama, sold him a portion of the land so that Obama could widen his yard (something that would have been considerably more difficult had the owner of the lot been a stranger who had really intended to build on the lot) and then jettisoned the property for a profit, to a friend of his, who will probably also make a profit off of the impending sale. 

In short, Rezko had no interest in the lot, except that it would help Obama buy a house and lot he, admittedly, otherwise could not afford. Obama has the house and yard of his dreams, because of a deal with long time friend, Rezko. It only took Obama over a year to dump this story in an unfavorable news week and hope it got buried. Yet still, there are questions to be answered.

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