DECEMBER 27, 2006
For the second time in two months Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who plans to run for president in 2008, is defending his strong and unethical ties to a shady political fundraiser indicted for taking hefty kickbacks on government deals.
Last month the popular Democratic lawmaker, who has toured the country promoting his book and his political aspirations, defended a questionable real estate deal with longtime friend and campaign contributor Antoin Rezko. This week, Obama denied granting an internship in his Capitol Hill office to a 20-year-old student recommended by his corrupt buddy.
The highly competitive internship was one of 98 Illinois spots filled from a pool of 350 applicants and Rezko wanted a friend’s son to get the job. The intern’s father is a longtime Rezko associate who, incidentally, has contributed thousands of dollars to Obama’s political campaigns.
Rezko and Obama have known each other for years and Rezko’s companies have donated big bucks to Obama’s campaigns. Rezko even hosted a fundraiser for Obama and the two men entered a real estate deal that Obama said was a regrettable mistake only after it was exposed in the media. Basically, Rezko subsidized a $1.65 million home Obama purchased in Chicago’s South side in 2005.
Long investigated by federal authorities, Rezko has been charged with extorting millions of dollars in kickbacks out of investment firms seeking state business. He is also accused of obtaining a $10.5 million loan from GE Capital through fraud and swindling of group investors.
Obama will undoubtedly continue denying any wrongdoing but the question remains: Why would he even have any connection to a guy like Rezko? One major Chicago newspaper points out that, during this ethically challenged time for so many pols, why would Obama put himself in business proximity to Rezko? Perhaps the senator will come clean during his presidential campaign.
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