Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama campaign gets rid of $2,300 tainted donation from Rezo buddy Alsammarae


BY CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporter

Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama is giving $2,300 in presidential campaign contributions to charity -- money he got from Aiham Alsammarae, a dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen who posted more than $2.7 million in property to help spring Tony Rezko from jail.

Alsammarae, Iraq's former electricity minister, gave to Obama's presidential campaign six times in January, February and March.

"The contributions were made online," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said. Obama is giving them to charity "given the circumstances brought to light by recent news reports."

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in its Sunday editions about Alsammarae posting his Oak Brook mansion and two South Loop condominiums to help free Rezko -- a onetime Obama political fund-raiser and patron -- from jail earlier this month.

Rezko's indictment and ongoing trial has proven a political headache for Obama. The U.S. Senator from Chicago is not accused of any wrongdoing, but his ties to Rezko have proven an attack point for his Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)

Besides his decision to give the $2,300 in presidential campaign cash from Alsammarae to charity, Obama has donated to several charities $159,085 in Rezko-related contributions from his Senate campaign. He also has sought to put all Rezko questions to rest by doing lengthy interviews with the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune about Rezko on March 14.

Alsammarae -- a friend of Rezko's since their days as classmates at the Illinois Institute of Technology -- once was accused of corruption in Iraq, but he broke out of a Baghdad jail, returned to the U.S. and has since said the charges against him have been vacated.

A longtime Interpol warrant describing Alsammarae as a fugitive could not be found on the agency's Web site as of Monday night. Alsammarae has said the warrant is invalid. Several messages left for him on Monday were not returned.

Alsammarae's family contacted multiple elected officials, including Obama's U.S. Senate office, when Alsammarae was being held in Iraq. Obama's office sought information from the State Department about Alsammarae on Oct. 16, 2006, and got a reply from the U.S. Consul in Iraq about a week later. Obama's staff forwarded that reply to Alsammarae's daughter and took no further action.

Alsammarae escaped from Iraq in December 2006.

Obama does not ever recall meeting Alsammarae, LaBolt said.

"Obama's Senate office received a routine request from a constituent, Ramy Alsammarae, to check in on the status of his father, and following procedure, the office wrote a letter to the consulate to request the update," LaBolt said.

Contributing: Natasha Korecki, Tim Novak


Carol Marin is right---Obama's judgment seems to depend too much on polling.
"Hours after Wright lobbed his last grenades Monday in Washington, the senator was questioned by reporters on a tarmac in Wilmington, N.C. And he still had nothing new to say, just what he'd said before, that some of Wright's comments "offend me, and I understand why they have offended the American people."

On Tuesday, after Obama's stinging denunciation of Wright, a reporter asked why he couldn't have said all of that on the tarmac?

Because, said the candidate, he "hadn't seen it."

Memo to staff: Please keep presidential hopeful posted.

This isn't the first time the campaign has waited out a problem, declining to take a controversy by the horns.

It took a relentless chorus of Chicago media almost a year to finally get Obama and his people to deliver long-asked-for documents and answer what were, at best, incompletely answered questions about his former friend and now-indicted fund-raiser, Tony Rezko. He finally did so in March.

There are judgment questions, fair ones, to be asked about Obama's past dealings with controversial people.

On Tuesday, his answers about Wright were filled with a purpose and passion that seemed to have been lacking lately.

But what those answers have yet to resolve is the matter of decisiveness, of acting quickly, speaking forcefully, and perhaps not waiting for overnight polling numbers or a full-blown disaster, to decide the next day's course."

I bet Mr.Alsammarae made a few "straw donations" on line as well, considering the fact he stole $650. million dollars from the U.S and Iraq. Do the candidates have any filtration devises in place to reject donations from 'questionable' donors? I wonder if Daniel T. Frawley or Dan Mahru donated to the Obama campaign.

May be if Barack becomes President, we will have lower gas prices!

It does not seem plausible to me that Obama didn't know that Dan Frawley was partnered up with Rezko and Alsammarae. It is obvious now that he knows Alsammarae, how could he not know when Seamus Ahern was meeting with Dan Frawley for over 6 months that he was partners with Rezko and Alsammarae. I find it very hard to beleive that Mr.Frawley didn't mention it himself, and if he did mention his partners to Ahern wouldn't that grant him a meeting with the Great Senator Obama? Or did he have a reason to hide behind the curtian.

What evades me the most, is that we're talking about electing a man to the presidency of the United States, who appears to have the worst memory. He doesn't remember meeting all of these people connected to rezko but they remember him, giving him donations, etc. Has Obama ever had an alzheimer's test? What if he forgot where he put the red phone?

Obama Junior's father, the late Obama are from Kenya, East Africa

as we may know, most Africa countries categorised most corrupted country, and most african men do not respect women at all

it is all shown automatically, in Obama Jr's behave, he is dealing with felony, spends donation fund like his own money, and absolutely do not respect Hillary

What a poor clinton's couple, !

if you still being thinking to vote to Obama Jr, you will make the biggest mistake in your life !

God bless America !


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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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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 29, 2008 10:41 PM.

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