JULY 09, 2008
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed separate complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee against Senator Barack Obama for allegedly accepting a below-market rate mortgage loan in 2005 not available to the general consumer.
According to the Judicial Watch complaints, the Illinois Senator reportedly received a home loan of $1.32 million at a rate of 5.625 percent, although the average going rate on that day according to two different surveys was between 5.93 and 6 percent. Unlike what was reportedly available for the general consumer, this special below-market "super super jumbo" loan was secured without an origination fee or discount points. (Questions about the mortgage were first raised by The Washington Post.)
"It appears that due to his position as a United States Senator, Barack Obama received improper special treatment from Northern Trust resulting in an illicit ‘gift’ which has a value of almost $125,000 in interest savings," Judicial Watch wrote in its U.S. Senate ethics complaint. "Judicial Watch therefore respectfully requests a full investigation into whether the special Northern Trust mortgage received by Senator Barack Obama constitutes a gift that is prohibited by Senate ethics rules." In its FEC complaint, Judicial Watch also calls for a full FEC investigation into whether the special mortgage is a disguised and illegal corporate campaign contribution to Senator Obama.
As Judicial Watch notes in both complaints, Northern Trust has supported Barack Obama’s political campaigns for elected office since 1990. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, cited by The Washington Post, Northern Trust employees have donated $71,000. The Northern Trust political action committee gave $1,250 to Senator Obama’s 2004 campaign for the United States Senate.
Northern Trust Vice President John O’Connell essentially admitted the company provided Obama preferential loan terms because of his position in the U.S. Senate. "A person’s occupation and salary are two factors; I would expect those are two things we would take into consideration," O’Connell told The Washington Post [emphasis added]. "This was a business proposition for us."
"Americans ought to be suspicious when a United States Senator such as Barack Obama, obtains a sweetheart mortgage deal," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "We have serious concerns that Senator Obama’s mortgage may have violated the law and Senate ethics rules."
Copies of Judicial Watch’s complaints against Senator Obama are available at www.judicialwatch.org.
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