Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Welcome To Presidential Politics

Senator Barack Obama is getting his first real taste of the scrutiny that comes with seeking the most powerful job in the free world. The reporters are starting to investigate his relationships to any past and present backers. The party is just starting!

The Chicago Sun Times reports that a Mr. Antoin "Tony'' Rezko, a reputed “slum lord” is a political supporter and friend of Senator Obama. They state that Mr. Rezko was one of the senator’s first financial backers with a 2,000 donation in 1995. The criticism stems from a couple of real estate deals involving the senator and Mr. Rezko.

Over the years, Rezko, Mahru, their wives and businesses have given more than $50,000 to Obama's campaign funds, records show. And Rezko has helped raise millions more.

Rezko was among the people Obama appointed to serve on his U.S. Senate campaign finance committee, the Sun-Times reported in 2003. The committee raised more than $14 million, according to Federal Election Commission records, helping send Obama to Washington in 2004.

As a U.S. senator, Obama grew closer to Rezko.

Two years ago, Obama bought a mansion on the South Side, in the Kenwood neighborhood, from a doctor. On the same day, Rezko's wife, Rita Rezko, bought the vacant lot next door from the same seller. The doctor had listed the properties for sale together. He sold the house to Obama for $300,000 below the asking price. The doctor got his asking price on the lot from Rezko's wife.

Last year, Rita Rezko sold a strip of that vacant lot to Obama for $104,500 -- a deal Obama later apologized for, acknowledging that people might think he got a favor from Rezko. Obama called the episode "boneheaded'' and a "mistake.''

At the time Obama bought that strip of land, it had been reported that Rezko was under federal investigation for influence-peddling involving the administration of Blagojevich, whose campaign also received Rezko's financial support.

Rezko has since been indicted for allegedly demanding kickbacks from companies seeking state business under Blagojevich. Rezko's trial has been postponed while investigators sort through his finances.”[1]

Whether these charges are true or how they will play out for the senator is up to the courts and the electorate, but it demonstrates that when you venture into presidential politics the scrutiny and the inspections get a lot more detailed. I don’t think anyone can prepare themselves for this type of public undressing. I wish the senator well and I hope he is prepared, because it is going to be a long 9 months until Iowa and the other candidates haven’t even begun to weigh in yet. Welcome to the big leagues senator!

[1] http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/353829,CST-NWS-rez23.article

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