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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Because no one
is above the law!


Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Judicial Watch Investigates Obama’s Mortgage Deal

July 11, 2008

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Judicial Watch Files Senate, FEC Complaints against Barack Obama Over Questionable Mortgage Loan

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve covered the Countrywide mortgage scandal involving Senators Dodd and Conrad, where the pair received preferential treatment from the mortgage lending company.

Well, this week, Judicial Watch filed separate complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee, against 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, Obama 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. The special below-market "super super jumbo" loan, as described by The Washington Post, was secured without an origination fee or discount points – terms not available to the general public.

Here’s an excerpt from our U.S. Senate complaint:

"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 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 our 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. That certainly appears to be the case.)

As Judicial Watch notes in both complaints, the relationship between Northern Trust and Senator Obama goes far beyond this single mortgage loan. Northern Trust has supported Barack Obama’s political campaigns 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."

Look, anytime a member of Congress gets a sweetheart deal from a mortgage company, we ought to be suspicious. Let’s hope the U.S. Senate the FEC do their jobs and investigate the matter. I’ll keep you posted.

Judicial Watch Sues State Department to Obtain Documents Related to Jailed Border Patrol Agents

Regular readers of the Weekly Update will remember the names Ignacio "Nacho" Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. They are the two Border Patrol agents shamelessly prosecuted by the U.S. government for shooting and wounding a Mexican drug smuggler, Oswald Aldrete-Davila, on February 17, 2005. (The two Border Patrol agents were sentenced to 11 and 12 years respectively. Aldrete-Davila, who attempted to smuggle 750 pounds of marijuana into the U.S., was given medical treatment and immunity for his testimony.)

Well, on June 12 Judicial Watched filed a lawsuit against the Department of State to obtain documents related to the government’s decision to prosecute Ramos and Compean and to strike a deal with Aldrete-Davila for his testimony. Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on April 17, 2008. The government failed to respond within the statutory 20-day period, forcing us to file our lawsuit.

(Incidentally, this is the second FOIA lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch related to the jailed Border Patrol agents. Click here for more information.)

Here’s essentially what we’re after in this lawsuit.

  • Information pertaining to government deals that were made with the government of Mexico to bring Aldrete-Davila to the U.S. to testify.
  • Any internal communications between the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department related to the decision to permit the lawful entry of Aldrete-Davila into the U.S. for medical treatment and for meetings with government prosecutors.
  • Any and all records of the Diplomatic Security Services (a branch of the State Department) related to the shooting incident.

There is enormous public interest in this incident. Many people, myself included, suspect these Border Patrol Agents were railroaded by the government for simply doing their jobs. Given the controversy surrounding the case, the more the American people know, the better.

We continue to aggressively pursue documents related to the incident, and I will keep you posted on what we find.

Jesse Jackson Nabbed on Tape in Violent Rant against Obama

The news was buzzing this week after the "Reverend" Jesse Jackson was caught on tape Wednesday in an embarrassing vulgar tirade against Barack Obama prior to an appearance on the Fox News Channel’s "Fox and Friends" program. Jackson, who reportedly didn’t know his mike was live, said of the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, "I want to cut his n*ts out," while making a hand-cutting gesture.

You can see the tape for yourself here.

Jackson tried to get ahead of the story, quickly slapping together a press conference prior to the airing of the tape on the Fox News Channel’s "The O’Reilly Factor" program Wednesday evening, but it was too late. (O’Reilly told the press Jackson made even more damaging comments, but Fox chose not to air them.)

Of course, many in the media have described Jackson’s comments as "shocking," but I’m not surprised at all. You may recall Judicial Watch represented the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, who was the victim of one of Jackson’s violent rages in 2001, in a civil rights lawsuit against Jackson. Jackson and his son, Jonathan, threatened, intimidated and harassed Reverend Peterson during a meeting held by Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. The lawsuit alleged that, within minutes following adjournment of the meeting, Jonathan Jackson struck Rev. Peterson and Rev. Peterson was physically threatened and verbally assaulted by both Jesse Jackson and Jonathan Jackson. Incited by Jackson’s earlier remarks, an angry crowd gathered, cursing, shoving and encircling Rev. Peterson and one of his associates.

Following a two-week trial, a conflicted jury failed to convict Jackson, ultimately agreeing to a partial verdict on the charges. However, Judicial Watch forced Jackson for the first time to answer for his reckless behavior in a court of law. Moreover, Judicial Watch uncovered some brand new information during the trial about how Jesse Jackson operates his corporate extortion campaigns. We published this information in a special report which you can read for free here.

Jesse Jackson too often acts and talks like a Mafioso. Why he is given the time of day by anyone these days?

Is Obama Legally Able to Serve as President?

Information is circulating over the Internet related to Barack Obama’s legal eligibility to serve as President of the United States. We’ve received a ton of emails on the subject, so I thought I’d address it here.

Here’s the crux of the Internet argument:

In order to be President of the United States, an individual must be a natural-born citizen. In order to be a natural born citizen, an individual must be born to two parents, at least one of which is a U.S. citizen residing in the United States. That parent must have resided in the United States for ten years prior to the individual’s birth, at least five of which after the age of 16.

Barack Obama’s father is not a U.S. citizen. His mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth. However, she was 18 at the time and therefore only two years of her residence in the U.S. took place after the age of 16. Therefore, Barack Obama is not legally able to serve as President.

Our legal team reviewed the argument and provided some useful analysis that I thought I should share with you. Under 8 U.S.C. 1401(a), anyone born in the U.S. and subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S., is a U.S. citizen at birth. In addition, under 8 U.S.C. 1405, anyone born in Hawaii after April 30, 1900 is a U.S. citizen at birth. (Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961.) The argument questioning Obama’s legal eligibility is wrong and apparently confuses persons born inside the U.S. with persons born outside the U.S., one of whose parents is a U.S. citizen and the other is a non-U.S. citizen (8 U.S.C. 1401(g)).

I know there are concerns about whether the birth certificate distributed by the Obama campaign is truly an official copy. The Obama camp will have to put to rest that question on its own. In the meantime, I haven’t seen any reliable information yet to suggest Obama was born anywhere other than Hawaii, so he’s a United States citizen and eligible to serve as our nation’s president.

Until next week…

Tom Fitton


Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.


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