APRIL 23, 2007
Barack Obama has dedicated much of his work as a legislator and attorney to help the poor but that hasn’t stopped the Democratic presidential candidate from taking hefty campaign contributions from a slumlord in his Chicago district whose tenants lived in deplorable conditions.
The slumlord–also a close friend of the Illinois senator – is a shady political fundraiser named Antoin Rezko who has been indicted on fraud and corruption charges for taking huge kickbacks on government deals. He owned dozens of low-income housing structures beset by code violations and 11 of them were in Obama’s state senate district. Buildings were crumbling and some didn’t even have heat, a necessity to endure brutal Chicago winters.
Rezko, who got millions of taxpayer dollars to rehab some of the buildings, claimed he didn’t have the money to repay the loans or turn the heat on in the apartments. He did, however, find money to contribute heavily to Obama who at the time was a state senator.
The relationship strengthened over the years and a two-part newspaper series details just how close the Illinois lawmaker is with the corrupt slumlord who kept his tenants – many of them the African Americans Obama claims to advocate for–shivering for more than a month during a nasty Chicago winter in the late 1990s.
The first part of the series tells how, as an attorney at a small Chicago law firm, Obama actually helped his corrupt friend get more than $43 million in government funding to rehabilitate more than a dozen of those apartment buildings for the poor. Then, as a state legislator, Obama let Rezko get away with abusing the very poor people he strives to help.
No wonder Rezko has been a huge political contributor to Obama’s campaigns over the years. Before his 2004 U.S. Senate run, Obama appointed Rezko to serve on his campaign finance committee, which raised more than $14 million.
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