Posted by: iam0nly1 | June 12, 2008

Rezko: Evolution of Truth (Part Three)

Rezko: 5 Hours of Work

I’m sure we can all remember the second South Carolina Democratic debate when it got particularly heated between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama – at one point, Senator Clinton accusing Senator Obama of working for his“slum landlord contributor, Rezko” while she was making a difference in people’s lives. This, while memorable, was not the first indication that Senator Obama had been involved with Antoin “Tony” Rezko. We need to go back to December, 2006. 

Senator Clinton and Senator Obama spar at South Carolina Democratic Debate.

Internship: At Rezko’s Request

December 2006:

In December 2006, trickles of Senator Obama’s possible favors for or business entanglements with Rezko began. The first was fairly minimal. TheSun-Times reported that an Obama spokesperson confirmed an internship the senator provided the son of a contributor had come at the request of Rezko. The intern, John Aramanda served for about a month in 2005, said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs. His father is Joseph Aramanda, a Rezko business associate named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal corruption case against Rezko. Aramanda had contributed $11,500 to Obama since 2000, Gibbs said. 

April 2007:     

In April of 2007, the Chicago Sun-Times summarizes what we know about Senator Obama, his law firm and Rezko, and what questions are still to be answered. 

What we know:

Obama wrote in his book, “In my legal practice, I work mostly with churches and community groups, men and women who quietly build grocery stores and health clinics in the inner city, and housing for the poor.”

Between 1989 and 1998, Rezmar (Rezko’s company) made deals to rehab 30 buildings, a total of 1,025 apartments. The last 15 buildings involved Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland during Obama’s time with the firm. Obama joined the firm in 1993, and during his time there, his law firm helped Rezmar get more than $43 million in government funding to rehab 15 of their 30 apartment buildings and represented three community groups that were partners with Rezmar in the troubled housing deals. 

Rezko building, rundown and boarded-up.
Four years later, the buildings Obama’s firm had helped Rezko’s firm rehab with the $43 million government funds, had fallen into a serious state of disrepair, and Obama was now also in the state senate. Eleven of the buildings were in Obama’s district. One building in particular in Englewood was without heat in the winter of 1997. Rezko and his partner were unable to find money to turn the heat back on, but their corporation Rezmar wasable to donate $1000 to Obama’s state senate campaign fund. In addition, Rezko gave Obama $2000 during his first run for the state senate – the second largest of the first three donations. 

 

The Sun-Times reports:

Obama spent the next eight years serving in the Illinois Senate and continued to work for the Davis law firm.

Through its partnerships, Rezmar remained a client of the firm, according to ethics statements Obama filed while a state senator.”

Hours Worked: Unknown

The Sun-Times, set off to find out exactly how much work Obama did involving Rezko and what he knew of the slum conditions Rezko had created in his district. They asked firm partner, Judson Minor, what Rezko cases Obama worked on, and Minor told the Sun-Times, “We’ll put together a list of the cases he worked on involving Rezko/Rezmar in the next day or two.” This request was made on March 13, 2007, and the information was never provided

The Sun-Times was unsuccessful in garnering full and consistent information, reporting:

“Just what legal work — and how much — Obama did on those deals is unknown. His campaign staff acknowledges he worked on some of them. But the Rezmar-related work amounted to just five hours over the six years it said Obama was affiliated with the law firm, the staff said in an e-mail in February.

Obama, however, was associated with the firm for more than nine years, his staff acknowledged Sunday in an e-mail response to questions submitted March 14 by the Sun-Times. They didn’t say what deals he worked on — or how much work he did.”

The Sun-Times is left with a new acknowledgment that the six year involvement, confessed a month earlier, in fact was a nine year involvement. However, the staff refused to say what deals were worked on or how much work was done in the newly acknowledged three years

Slum Conditions: I Didn’t Know

As for the slum conditions of 11 Rezko managed buildings in his district, Obama claimed in an April 2007 Chicago-Tribune interview, he did not know of the poor conditions of the 11 buildings in his district that his firm helped Rezko garner government money to rehab:

“Obama said in the interview Monday that he was unaware of the scope of properties owned by Rezmar or the problems surrounding them. He said none of the affected residents personally sought his help and that aides at his state Senate district office did not recall any inquiries. Still, he said it was “possible” that during his tenure in the legislature that a constituent may have written or called his office “saying, ‘We’re in a building, and we’re unhappy with the service here.'”

Such problems, he said, would normally be brought to the attention of an alderman or the city’s Housing Department.“Had I known that there were buildings that were in deteriorating or poor condition, that certainly would have given me pause. But I didn’t” know, Obama said.”

“I’ve never done any favors”: Umm…

June 2007:
Just two months later in June 2007, the Sun-Times reveals that in October of 1998, Obama did favors for Rezko, writing letters to city and state officials supporting Rezko’s bid to get more than $14 million in government funds to build apartments for senior citizens which were to be located four blocks outside of his senate district. This deal included $855,000 in development fees for Rezko and his partner, Allison S. Davis, Obama’s former boss at his law firm

 

According to the Sun-Times, “Obama’s letters, written nearly nine years ago, for the first time show the Democratic presidential hopeful did a political favor for Rezko — a longtime friend, campaign fund-raiser and client of the law firm where Obama worked…

The letters appear to contradict a statement last December from Obama, who told the Chicago Tribune that, in all the years he’s known Rezko, ‘I’ve never done any favors for him.’

Obama’s former boss, Allison S. Davis.
At the time he wrote the letters, Obama was also a lawyer with Miner Barnhill & Galland, the law firm Davis formerly headed. Among the firm’s clients were several companies owned by Davis and Rezko. The firm did not represent New Kenwood [Davis and Rezko’s company].”

 

Obama campaign spokesperson, Burton,rejected claims that writing the letters was a favor, saying, “Obama supported it because it was going to help people in his district.” 

However, this response is factually inaccurate. The story itself documents that the new building would not have been in Obama’s district. Further, Obama’s firm was not representing Davis and Rezko’s corporation. The only reason for writing the letters was to do a favor for a contributor and friend, and a former boss. 

Obama wrote in the letters:

“I am writing in support of the New Kenwood LLC’s proposal to build a ninety-seven unit apartment building at 48th and Cottage Grove for senior citizens. This project will provide much needed housing for the Fourth Ward citizens.”

 

“I Didn’t Know” About Slums: Revisited

If we are to believe Obama’s current claim that he did not know of the horrid housing conditions Rezko had created in his district, we are left to believe that he wrote these letters supporting a new housing venture by Rezko without looking into the existing projects Rezko had worked on, which is negligence at best. If we do not believe his claim of ignorance, we can only conclude that he knew of Rezko’s track record with housing projects, is currently lying about it, and wrote the letters anyway as a favor to his slumlord friend

January 2008:

In the second South Carolina Democratic Debate on January 20, 2008, Rezko and Obama’s association once again received national attention, this time because Senator Clinton brought attention to it during a particularly heated section of the debate.      

BLITZER: I’m going to go to Suzanne Malveaux in a second, but I just want to give you a chance, Senator Obama, if you want to respond. Senator Clinton made a serious allegation that you worked for a slumlord. And I wonder if you want to respond.

OBAMA: I’m happy to respond. Here’s what happened: I was an associate at a law firm that represented a church group that had partnered with this individual to do a project and I did about five hours worth of work on this joint project. That’s what she’s referring to.

Now, it’s fine for her to throw that out, but the larger reason that I think this debate is important is because we do have to trust our leaders and what they say. That is important, because if we can’t, then we’re not going to be able to mobilize the American people behind bringing about changes in health care reform, bringing about changes in how we’re going to put people back to work, changing our trade laws. And consistency matters. Truthfulness during campaigns makes a difference.

Obama was right. Consistency matters and truthfulness during campaigns makes a difference. The only thing consistent about Obama’s responses to the Rezko issue, is his inconsistency and lack of truthfulness. 

We’re still waiting for the truth. 

How much work was done for Rezko, and what did Obama work on?

Does Obama want us to believe he was a clueless state senator who did not know about the conditions of his district? So clueless, he would go out of his way to do a favor for a slumlord like Rezko, who was already destroying his district, and his former boss so they could engage in another housing project?

Or does Obama want us to believe he was a diligent state senator who knew of the problems in his district, but ignored them to do a favor for the friend who had created their current troubles?

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