Shady Businessman Gives Barack Obama More Cash Than He Admits

Rezko cash triple what Obama says

DONATIONS | $168,000 traced to indicted businessman, associates over the years

June 18, 2007

During his 12 years in politics, Sen. Barack Obama has received nearly three times more campaign cash from indicted businessman Tony Rezko and his associates than he has publicly acknowledged, the Chicago Sun-Times has found.

Obama has collected at least $168,308 from Rezko and his circle. Obama also has taken in an unknown amount of money from people who attended fund-raising events hosted by Rezko since the mid-1990s.

Obama has collected at least $168,308 from Rezko and his circle. Obama also has taken in an unknown amount of money from people who attended fund-raising events hosted by Rezko since the mid-1990s.

But seven months ago, Obama told the Sun-Times his “best estimate” was that Rezko raised “between $50,000 and $60,000” during Obama’s political career.

But seven months ago, Obama told the Sun-Times his “best estimate” was that Rezko raised “between $50,000 and $60,000” during Obama’s political career.

Obama, who wants to be the nation’s next president, has been purging some of those donations — giving charities more than $30,000 he got from Rezko and three of his business partners referenced in Rezko’s federal indictments. All three attended a lavish fund-raiser Rezko hosted for Obama four years ago.

Obama, however, has kept $6,850 from others who also are referenced in Rezko’s indictments. Obama also has hung on to contributions from doctors whom Rezko helped appoint to a state-government panel involved in some of Rezko’s alleged fraud schemes.

“We’ve made our best effort to run the most ethical campaign possible in all ways and release donations when appropriate,” Obama’s press secretary, Bill Burton, said Friday.

Sticks by estimate

Burton said Obama can only estimate how much money Rezko has raised for him. Obama’s staff, he said, only knows of one fund-raiser Rezko hosted for Obama — a June 27, 2003, cocktail party at Rezko’s mansion.Sources close to both Rezko and Obama, however, said Rezko raised money often for Obama.

Burton said Friday the campaign was sticking by its original estimate that Rezko raised no more than $60,000.

The cocktail party Rezko hosted in 2003 came at a critical time for Obama. He and Rezko timed it to help Obama show he had enough money to compete in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate against millionaire Blair Hull and state Comptroller Dan Hynes.

“This was discussed a lot. They wanted to have a good showing,” said a source familiar with the fund-raiser, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Tony was one of the biggest fund-raisers.”

At the time of the party, the state was in the process of foreclosing on a low-income apartment building Rezko’s company rehabbed in Obama’s state Senate district — a rehab project on which Obama’s law firm worked. Rezko had also abandoned many other low-income apartments, leaving numerous vacant units in need of major repairs.

Rezko was indicted in October 2006 in unrelated fraud schemes.

Between 75 and 80 people attended Rezko’s cocktail party, according to Burton, but he said the campaign has no list of the guests.

More than half a dozen people who were there said between 100 and 150 guests were treated to an open bar and food served by Jewell Events Catering, run by renowned Chicago caterer George Jewell. Valets parked cars for the guests, who each were asked to donate at least $1,000.

Rezko picked up the tab. The exact cost of the party has never been disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, which allows hosts to pay up to $2,000 for fund-raisers held in their homes and not report the expense. If a party costs more than $2,000, the candidate must tell the FEC about it.

Burton said, based on a conversation a former Obama staff member had with Rezko, that the party didn’t cost more than $2,000.

Three days after the cocktail party, Obama got donations from several Rezko associates, Obama’s campaign records show.

Donations dumped

The donor list includes six people involved in the two federal indictments of Rezko. Obama earlier this month said he is donating to charity contributions totaling $22,000 from three of those people. Last year, he donated $11,500 in contributions from Rezko.Among those whose money Obama is now purging is Ali D. Ata, a former top official in Gov. Blagojevich’s administration. Ata was indicted last month for allegedly writing a letter — on a state letterhead — that contained false information. That letter allegedly helped Rezko fraudulently secure millions of dollars in loans.

Obama also is dumping donations by Rezko business partners Joseph Aramanda and Dr. Paul Ray, neither of whom has been charged in the Rezko cases.

Aramanda, sources said, is identified as “Individual D” in one of the Rezko indictments. He allegedly got a $250,000 fee “in substantial part for the benefit of Rezko” in a scheme involving the state’s teacher pension fund, the indictment states. Aramanda’s son once had an internship in Obama’s U.S. Senate office.

Ray is listed as “Investor 1” in another indictment, a title that stems from his ownership role in a Rezko fast-food business. Ray is not accused of wrongdoing.

While Obama has dumped the cash from Aramanda and Ray, he has kept a $3,000 donation from Michael Winter, whom sources have identified as “Individual G” in a Rezko indictment. Winter allegedly agreed to funnel a fee from an investment firm to Rezko and others as part of the teacher-pension scheme. He has not been charged.

Obama also has kept $2,850 from Anthony Abboud and $1,000 from Jack Carriglio, both attorneys. They haven’t been accused of any crime and aren’t named in the indictments against Rezko. But one indictment alleges that Rezko in May 2004 helped engineer the appointments of “two new members” to the teacher pension board who voted “on matters of interest to Rezko” and a co-defendant, Stuart Levine. Those members are Abboud and Carriglio, according to sources and records.

The donors either declined to comment or could not be reached.

Obama has been dogged by questions about Rezko since November, after it became known that Rezko played a role in the purchase of Obama’s house in Kenwood. Rezko’s wife, Rita, and Obama purchased adjoining lots on the same day in June 2005, and Rita Rezko later sold a strip of the land to Obama so he could expand his yard.

“We’ve made our best effort to run the most ethical campaign possible in all ways and release donations when appropriate.

One Comment

  1. whydidyoudoit

    The Clinton campaign didn’t have a healthcare plan before it felled and they don’t have one now. Well to be honest, if everyone is a goverment employee, then the Clinton healthcare plan will work for everyone. Unfortunately some are self employed, independent contractors or work for private employors or small business. Under the Clinton healthcare plan these people would be penalized if they don’t pay for their healthcare. This means that most of your family members and friends will have their paychecks garnished. We all know that it doesn’t stop there if it is a goverment enforcement. There will be fines and then misdemeanors which is a criminal offense defined as less serious than a felony. Why did Ms. Clinton decide on this approach? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Big business, big Corporation call it what you will, they want their money back and in order for Ms. Clinton to get their support in her race to presidency she is giving victory to one side (the healthcare providers) by promising to them that she will have the poeople wages garnished if they continue to give healthcare. Thus allowing her to shout the words “UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE” This is a shady tactic and makes fools out of every american that falls for this trick. The Obama healthcare plan is for the people. Poor people, middle class and rich people can rest assured that there is no tricks or penalties in the Obama healthcare plan. VOTE OBAMA!!

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