From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Obama Advisor Valerie Jarrett Linked to Real Estate Scandals
Barack Obama’s personnel decisions as President-Elect are crushing any hopes that his administration will bring a new spirit of integrity and honesty to Washington. First there was the selection of Clinton attack dog Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. Then there was the selection of another Clinton crony, John Podesta, to co-chair Obama’s transition team. And now Barack Obama has tapped Valerie Jarrett to partner with Podesta in handling the transition.
Who is Valerie Jarrett?
Characterized as "the other side of Barack Obama’s brain" by CBS News, Jarrett first met the Obamas seventeen years ago when she offered Michelle Obama a job. Since that time Jarrett has served as a very close advisor to both Obamas. While some have speculated that Jarrett is interested in taking Obama’s place in the U.S. Senate, the New York Times reported that it is more likely she will become a senior White House adviser. And that is terrible news.
Judicial Watch recently obtained documents linking Valerie Jarrett to a series of real estate scandals, including several housing projects operated by convicted felon and former Obama fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko.
According to the documents, which we obtained from the Illinois Secretary of State, Valerie Jarrett served as a board member for several organizations that provided funding and support for Chicago housing projects operated by real estate developers and Obama financial backers Antoin "Tony" Rezko and Allison Davis. (You may recall that Davis is also Obama’s former boss.)
Jarrett was a member of the Board of Directors for the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation along with several Davis and Rezko associates, as well as the Fund for Community Redevelopment and Revitalization, an organization that worked with Rezko and Davis. Jarrett wrote of her support for Davis/Rezko projects, and was also one of the strongest supporters in revitalizing two struggling Chicago banks which later provided loans and mortgages for the Davis/Rezko housing projects.
And what sort of housing projects were Davis and Rezko operating? According to press reports, housing projects operated by Davis and Rezko have been substandard and beset with code violations. The Chicago Sun Times reported that one Rezko-managed housing project was "riddled with problems — including squalid living conditions…lack of heat, squatters and drug dealers." Davis, meanwhile, was nailed for a code violation when sewage began to seep through electrical outlets in one of his low income apartment buildings.
Of course, Jarrett would have no issues supporting these kinds of housing projects. As Chief Executive Officer of the Habitat Company, Jarrett managed a controversial housing project located in Obama’s former state senate district called Grove Parc Plaza. According to the Boston Globe, the housing complex was considered "uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage…In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale – a score so bad the buildings now face demolition." It is no stretch to say that she was a slumlord. Jarrett refused to comment on the conditions of the complex.
Valerie Jarrett is a product of the corrupt Chicago political machine. Washington already has plenty of corruption; we don’t need to import more of it from Chicago.
Ban or Not? Judicial Watch Ignites Controversy over PC Efforts to Control Speech in the Courts
Judicial Watch’s has been involved in a back-and-forth with the office of the Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice over the last week. It all started on November 6th when Judicial Watch posted an entry on its "Corruption Chronicles blog" regarding an attempt by the Arizona Supreme Court to advise all judges in Arizona to refrain from using "derogatory" terms such as "illegal alien" and "immigration crisis" in court documents and proceedings after the Hispanic Bar Association lobbied the court to take action to eliminate the use of these terms.
Here’s our original blog story:
Arizona’s Supreme Court chief justice has agreed to enforce the Hispanic Bar Association’s demands of banning the terms "illegal" and "aliens" in all of the state’s courtrooms. Claiming that the terms are inflammatory, the president of Arizona’s Hispanic Bar Association, (known as Los Abogados) has asked state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor to stop using them at trials or hearings because they create perceptions of judicial bias.
In a strongly worded letter to the chief justice, Los Abogados’ president says attaching an illegal status to a person establishes a brand of contemptibility, creates the appearance of anti-immigrant prejudice and tarnishes the image of courts as a place where disputes may be fairly resolved.
It further points out that no human being is illegal and that a national Hispanic journalism association has roundly criticized the reference for dehumanizing a segment of the population. The letter goes on to criticize the state’s High Court for using the term "illegals" in at least two opinions and the term "illegal aliens" in dozens of others.
It concludes with a list of acceptable and unacceptable terms relating to illegal immigration. Among those the group wants banned are; immigration crisis, immigration epidemic, open borders advocates, anchor babies and invaders. Among the acceptable terms are foreign nationals, unauthorized workers and human rights advocates. Click here to see the entire list as well as Chief Justice McGregor’s promise to enforce the requests.
Cari Gerchick, spokesman for the Arizona Supreme Court, was none too pleased with this blog entry, which created a firestorm of negative press for the court. She called Judicial Watch to register her objection to the story, which she labeled "slanderous." (Just as an FYI, when the word "slanderous" is thrown around, it is often interpreted as a threat because "slander" is a legally actionable offense. And we took it as such.)
As we stated in our letter, dated November 7, 2008:
We are surprised and disappointed that your spokesperson would describe Judicial Watch’s blog entry as "slanderous," thereby implicitly threatening some form of legal action by the Court against Judicial Watch on account of this blog entry…We believe our blog entry more than fairly represents the correspondence between you and the bar association and does nothing more than inform the public of an extraordinary request by members of the bar to censor the word choice of the Arizona courts – a request to which you appear to have acceded.
Ms. Gerchick is emphatic that the Chief Justice banned no words. We stand by our original story.
We ran a few searches on the court decisions in the past 10 years. In US Courts of Appeal, the courts have used the phrase "illegal alien" in 1,833 times. In US District Courts, the term was used in 1,091 cases. In Arizona, combining both federal and state court usage, the term illegal alien was used 792 times. It also appears that the term "alien" is used in 645 statutes.
Big Brother, if he wants these terms banned, has a lot of suppressing to do.
The illegal immigration lobby wants to control the illegal immigration debate by controlling language. And they want to undermine the rule of law by restricting the ability of the courts to talk straight about violations of our nation’s immigration laws. It is shocking that any court would be complicit in this.
I’ll be sure to keep you posted as this story further develops…
Judicial Watch Sues Health and Human Services over Planned Parenthood Records
President Bush instituted polices that may have saved the lives of many unborn babies. One of his first official acts as President in 2001 was to reinstitute a policy denying federal funding to international groups that provide abortions. He opposed taxpayer funding for most stem cell research. And he signed a bill which outlawed the barbaric practice of partial birth abortion.
So would you be surprised if I told you that the Bush administration, under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services, has provided billions of dollars to the pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood?
That’s why we decided to find out everything we could about the Bush administration’s funding of Planned Parenthood, including what restrictions, if any, have been placed on how this money is spent. On August 14, 2008, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Health and Human Services. When HHS stonewalled, we filed a lawsuit. (Check it out here.)
Here’s what we’re after:
All records concerning the allocation and distribution of public funds to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (henceforth referred to as Planned Parenthood).
All records detailing the policies, procedures, and operational practices of Planned Parenthood, including but not limited to records concerning the use of public funds to provide health care or educational services.
Any and all records pertaining to the Department of Health and Human Service’s decision to provide funding to Planned Parenthood, including but not limited to records detailing the use of government money, and/or any conditions or stipulations regarding the use of said money.
Incredibly, the Bush administration provides approximately $300 million in annual taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood through Title X (Ten), a program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Now, pro-abortion advocates and defenders of the Title X policy say that the funds are not to be used directly for abortion-related services, that there is a "strict wall of separation" between funds for "family planning" and funds for "abortion." There is some doubt as to whether or not this is true, which is one reason we filed our FOIA request. Even if you accept this argument at face value, this is a distinction without a difference. Certainly every dollar allocated by the federal government to Planned Parenthood for so-called "family planning" services frees up another dollar to be used by Planned Parenthood to provide abortions.
As President Elect Obama is a fanatic supporter of abortion rights and, among other acts, pledges to reverse the prohibition on taxpayer money for organizations that promote abortion abroad, the issue of taxpayer funding of abortion could reach fever pitch over the next year.
I will continue to keep you posted on this lawsuit and on whatever information we uncover related to our government’s support of Planned Parenthood.
Until next week…
Tom Fitton President
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