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Sweet: Clinton campaign memo details outstanding questions about the Obama-Rezko relationship

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SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--The trial of influence peddler Tony Rezko is throwing a spotlight on his relationship with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) The Clinton campaign, the day before crucial votes in Ohio and Texas, is doing everything it can to throw a spotlight on Obama's Rezko problem. Click below for the "Questions Sen. Obama Should Answer About Tony Rezko" memo from the Clinton campaign.




To: Interested Parties

From: Clinton Campaign

Date: Monday, March 03, 2008

Regarding: Questions Sen. Obama Should Answer About Tony Rezko

The trail of indicted influence peddler Tony Rezko – longtime friend and political patron of Sen. Barack Obama -- starts today . Sen. Obama's name has already surfaced in pre-trial documents submitted by the prosecution and, according to media reports, is likely to surface again as the trial progresses. Democrats deserve the answers to these questions as they consider their votes:

1. Will Sen. Obama release all documents related to his relationship with Tony Rezko, including all documents related to his controversial land transaction?

Howard Wolfson asked top Obama strategist David Axelrod this question on ABC's This Week and the campaign has yet to respond. [ABC's This Week, 3/2/08]

2. When, specifically, did Sen. Obama become aware of Mr. Rezko's legal problems?

On national television this January, Sen. Obama said "no one had an inkling" of Rezko's legal troubles during the course of their relationship. Actually, it was already widely reported that Mr. Rezko was under investigation for participating in a kickback scheme prior to their controversial land transaction. [CBS, 1/23/08; Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/05]

3. Sen. Obama has returned money from several individuals who are publicly associated with Mr. Rezko. How much money did Mr. Rezko bundle for Sen. Obama's campaigns in total, including people who are not business associates of Mr. Rezko? How many fundraisers did Mr. Rezko hold for Sen. Obama? Has there been an internal investigation to determine how many straw donors Mr. Rezko used to funnel money to Sen. Obama?

The Obama campaign has returned money from people who are publicly associate with Mr. Rezko. But they have not revealed who much Mr. Rezko bundled for Sen. Obama in total. The Chicago Sun Times reported that the Obama campaign "declined to say" whether they maintained a list of the money that Mr. Rezko raised for Mr. Obama over the course of his career. [Chicago Sun Times, 1/23/08]

4. Much of the upcoming trail involves Mr. Rezko's efforts to control state boards as a means to defraud the state government. Have Sen. Obama and Mr. Rezko ever communicated about potential appointments to Illinois boards and commissions? It's been publicly reported that Sen. Obama lobbied these same state boards to secure contracts for campaign donors. Did Sen. Obama ever confer with Mr. Rezko concerning how to successfully lobby state boards?

The indictment alleges that Mr. Rezko manipulated state government boards to defraud the people of Illinois. At the same time, "Mr. Obama met with three state pension boards," urging them to give contracts to specific firms. Later, employees of these companies "donated more than $300,000 to help Mr. Obama win his seat in the United States Senate in 2004 and set fund-raising records early in the 2008 presidential race." [New York Times, 10/01/07]

5. The New York Times reported that Sen. Obama attended a business meeting on behalf of Mr. Rezko to impress potential investors for his business schemes. How many events did Sen. Obama attend on behalf of Mr. Rezko to impress investors? What was his role? Why did Sen. Obama agree to attend?

The New York Times reported in June that "Former Rezko associates said that Governor Blagojevich attended one of the dinners, and that at Mr. Rezko’s request, Mr. Obama dropped in at one for Middle Eastern bankers in early 2004, just as he was starting to pull ahead in the Senate primary. The visits, Mr. Rezko’s partners said, helped impress foreign guests." [New York Times, 6/14/07]

6. How many times did Senator Obama visit Tony Rezko's house? What was the purpose of these visits?

The Times of London reports that "The court is also expected to hear from John Thomas, an FBI mole, who reportedly witnessed Mr Obama and Mr Blagojevich making frequent visits to Mr Rezko." [The Times, 3/3/08]

7. Did Sen. Obama intercede on behalf of Mr. Rezko in any governmental capacity?

The Chicago Sun Times reported that "As a state senator, Barack Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting his political patron Tony Rezko's successful bid to get more than $14 million from taxpayers to build apartments for senior citizens." They have not said whether there were any other actions that Obama took for the benefit of Rezko. [Chicago Sun Times, 6/13/07]

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6 Comments

It seems to me this is a situation of the pot calling the kettle black when there are still questions never answered about Vincent Foster's suicide surrounding the White Water deal and how missing secret FBI files were found on Hillary's desk in the private quarters of the White House.

As Ms. Sweet said in another blog, us Chicagoans have read about Obama's shady dealings with Rezko for a while now. But as is the tradition of the brain dead voters in this city and county, corrupt politicians are revered and idolized by Cook county voters. That's why Obama, Daley, Gov. Blago, Stroger are voted into office, because of the lack of intelligence of Cook county residents. But now I hope the rest of the country starts to be educated about Obama and Rezko. I trust voters in other states are not as dumb as us Cook county voters. Also, this is off topic but important. To all republicans in the upcoming primary states, vote for Hillary! We need the democrats to have a brokered convention in Denver in August. We need the dems fighting with each other and making back room deals to secure the nomination at the convention. The only way for this to happen is to help Hillary catch up to Obama. So since the GOP race is over, vote for Hillary so we can help the dems have a chaotic, divisive convention.

I just don't understand why everyone is asking these questions now regarding Obama and his business dealings. He may beat Clinton because the majority of the mainstream media has been to busy playing up his African-American candidacy. However, I doubt that Obama will beat McCain in the general election because he will be examined more because Clinton and her baggage will no longer be part of the story.

As an independent African-American voter, I do not have anything against Obama. I think he has a great story, but there is just something about him, I do not trust.

Lynn,
Thank you for keeping up with this story, this is way bigger than his campaign people are letting on. Once this jury is picked and the trial gets underway, I hope it is not to late for people to see the truth before the election. I have seen your comments on various news channels about this story. We surely do need change, don't we. I say go with experience on day one!

Something smells in Chicago. I am afraid thats the Rezko and Obama relationship. Time will tell. I hope the truth comes out before he is nominated.

Call me dumb, but to me the main question is did the seller of the home that Obama purchased reduce his price by $300,000 because he got full price ($625,000) for the adjoining lot from Mrs. Rezko on the same day. And why did Mrs. R. buy the property if it was not some kind of way to help the Obamas, especially considering that she didn't have the resourses (according to her deposition) to buy it? So where did the money come from?
Looks very fishy to me.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 3, 2008 9:31 AM.

Sweet column: Obama's African trip dominates foreign policy resume. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet: Clinton turning up heat on Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee and his NAFTA comments. is the next entry in this blog.

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