NOVEMBER 14, 2008
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents linking Valerie Jarrett, an advisor to Barack Obama and the co-chairman of the President-Elect’s transition team, to a series of real estate scandals, including several housing projects operated by convicted felon and Obama fundraiser/friend Antoin "Tony" Rezko.
According to the documents obtained by Judicial Watch 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 Rezko and Allison Davis. (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.
(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.")
As Chief Executive Officer of the Habitat Company Jarrett also 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." Ms. Jarrett refused to comment to the Globe on the conditions of the complex.
"Like Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett is a product of the corrupt Chicago political machine. And it is no stretch to say that she was a slumlord," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "We have real concerns about Jarrett’s ethics. Washington already has plenty of corruption. We don’t need to import more of it from Chicago."
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. While speculation has arisen that Jarrett could take 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, thus continuing her long record of being an important influence and mentor to Barack and Michelle Obama.