AUGUST 26, 2008
Enthusiastically promoting its famous change rhetoric, Barack Obama’s campaign fails to mention that his new running mate’s top advisor and fundraiser pleaded guilty to participating in a kickback scheme with a major Obama donor recently convicted of 16 felonies.
This rather convoluted story illustrates that, along with foreign policy experience, Delaware Senator Joe Biden also brings solid political corruption credentials to Obama’s presidential campaign. This, in turn, contradicts the Illinois senator’s trademark change message as well as his squeaky-clean image as a Washington outsider.
A major news agency points out that the vice presidential candidate’s longtime advisor and campaign fundraiser, Chicago attorney Joseph Cari, was indicted in 2005 for helping the convicted Syrian fundraiser (Antoin Rezko) who bankrolled Obama’s political career operate a massive kickback scheme.
Rezko, who has known Obama for years and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the senator, was convicted of 16 corruption-related felony charges earlier this year for plotting to squeeze millions of dollars in kickbacks out of investment firms seeking state business. Prosecutors say Rezko also provided hefty donations to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions.
Senator Biden’s confidante actually testified at Rezko’s federal trial after cutting a deal with prosecutors to cooperate with the government’s investigation. As part of the agreement, Cari pleaded guilty to extortion and his sentence is still pending.
For decades Cari, a prominent figure in the Democratic Party, has served as one of Biden’s top Senate advisors and fundraisers and the men consider each other good friends. Cari has also advised or raised cash for other Democratic presidential candidates, including Jimmy Carter in 1980 and John Kerry in 2004.
His deep involvement with Rezko is scandalous for the Democratic Party in general and especially damaging for the new vice presidential candidate. No wonder the Obama camp omitted the crucial information when touting Biden as a foreign policy expert whose heart and values are firmly rooted in the middle class.
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