The People Who Surround Barack Obama – Part 7

Continuing my ever popular series of the people with whom Barack Hussein Obama (a.k.a. The Nazarine) associates, we take a look at some of his business dealings.  I use the word “business” loosely, as socialists view business with a different perspective.  Doing business in a neo-Marxist sense means accumulating personal wealth, while spending everyone elses money in an attempt for self-aggrandizement.

The Nazarine perhaps said it more plainly: “spread the wealth around.”

For the record, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor is theft, no matter how you slice it.  It is the reason why the Founding Fathers were so hyped on little things like property rights.

Anyhoo…in this post we take a good look at Anthony Rezko, and Allison Davis.

Some of you have already heard of Tony Rezko.  A Chicago Sun-Times article boils down the key elements of the Obama Rezko relationship:

Having a hard time keeping track of the facts? Here are eight things to know:

1. They met in 1990. Obama was a student at Harvard Law School and got an unsolicited job offer from Rezko, then a low-income housing developer in Chicago. Obama turned it down.

2. Obama took a job in 1993 with a small Chicago law firm, Davis Miner Barnhill, that represents developers — primarily not-for-profit groups — building low-income housing with government funds.

3. One of the firm’s not-for-profit clients — the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp., co-founded by Obama’s then-boss Allison Davis — was partners with Rezko’s company in a 1995 deal to convert an abandoned nursing home at 61st and Drexel into low-income apartments. Altogether, Obama spent 32 hours on the project, according to the firm. Only five hours of that came after Rezko and WPIC became partners, the firm says. The rest of the future senator’s time was helping WPIC strike the deal with Rezko. Rezko’s company, Rezmar Corp., also partnered with the firm’s clients in four later deals — none of which involved Obama, according to the firm. In each deal, Rezmar “made the decisions for the joint venture,” says William Miceli, an attorney with the firm.

4. In 1995, Obama began campaigning for a seat in the Illinois Senate. Among his earliest supporters: Rezko. Two Rezko companies donated a total of $2,000. Obama was elected in 1996 — representing a district that included 11 of Rezko’s 30 low-income housing projects.

5. Rezko’s low-income housing empire began crumbling in 2001, when his company stopped making mortgage payments on the old nursing home that had been converted into apartments. The state foreclosed on the building — which was in Obama’s Illinois Senate district.

6. In 2003, Obama announced he was running for the U.S. Senate, and Rezko — a member of his campaign finance committee — held a lavish fund-raiser June 27, 2003, at his Wilmette mansion.

7. A few months after Obama became a U.S. senator, he and Rezko’s wife, Rita, bought adjacent pieces of property from a doctor in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood — a deal that has dogged Obama the last two years. The doctor sold the mansion to Obama for $1.65 million — $300,000 below the asking price. Rezko’s wife paid full price — $625,000 — for the adjacent vacant lot. The deals closed in June 2005. Six months later, Obama paid Rezko’s wife $104,500 for a strip of her land, so he could have a bigger yard. At the time, it had been widely reported that Tony Rezko was under federal investigation. Questioned later about the timing of the Rezko deal, Obama called it “boneheaded” because people might think the Rezkos had done him a favor.

8. Eight months later — in October 2006 — Rezko was indicted on charges he solicited kickbacks from companies seeking state pension business under his friend Gov. Blagojevich. Federal prosecutors maintain that $10,000 from the alleged kickback scheme was donated to Obama’s run for the U.S. Senate. Obama has given the money to charity.

The notion that Tony Rezko was providing “low-income housing” is a bit of a stretch, as another Chicago Sun-Times article notes:

For more than five weeks during the brutal winter of 1997, tenants shivered without heat in a government-subsidized apartment building on Chicago’s South Side.

It was just four years after the landlords — Antoin “Tony” Rezko and his partner Daniel Mahru — had rehabbed the 31-unit building in Englewood with a loan from Chicago taxpayers.

It was just four years after the landlords — Antoin “Tony” Rezko and his partner Daniel Mahru — had rehabbed the 31-unit building in Englewood with a loan from Chicago taxpayers.

Rezko and Mahru couldn’t find money to get the heat back on.

But their company, Rezmar Corp., did come up with $1,000 to give to the political campaign fund of Barack Obama, the newly elected state senator whose district included the unheated building.

Want more info?  From the same article:

Obama, who has worked as a lawyer and a legislator to improve living conditions for the poor, took campaign donations from Rezko even as Rezko’s low-income housing empire was collapsing, leaving many African-American families in buildings riddled with problems — including squalid living conditions, vacant apartments, lack of heat, squatters and drug dealers.

The building in Englewood was one of 30 Rezmar rehabbed in a series of troubled deals largely financed by taxpayers. Every project ran into financial difficulty. More than half went into foreclosure, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.

“Their buildings were falling apart,” said a former city official. “They just didn’t pay attention to the condition of these buildings.”

Eleven of Rezko’s buildings were in Obama’s state Senate district.

Obama, now a U.S. senator running for president, has come under fire over his friendship with Rezko, who was charged last fall with demanding kickbacks on state business deals under Gov. Blagojevich.

So, it seems real clear that Hillary Clinton’s description of Rezko being Obama’s slumlord pal seems to be correct.

How close was Obama to Rezko?  Well, for one, they lived next to each other in Chicago.    And, the aforementioned article states that Rezko offered Obama a job early in Obama’s career (an offer that Barack would turn down).  But there’s more (from the same Chicago Sun-Times article):

But Obama’s ties with Rezko go beyond those two real estate sales and the political support, the Sun-Times found. Obama was an attorney with a small Chicago law firm — Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland — that helped Rezmar get more than $43 million in government funding to rehab 15 of their 30 apartment buildings for the poor.

Just what legal work — and how much — Obama did on those deals is unknown. His campaign staff acknowledges he worked on some of them. But the Rezmar-related work amounted to just five hours over the six years it said Obama was affiliated with the law firm, the staff said in an e-mail in February. 

Five hours doesn’t seem like much.  However, that’s five “billable” hours.  How much the law firm provided pro bono will probably never be known.  Remember, Rezmar was doing what amounted to public charity work, and wasn’t a for-profit venture.  Tony Rezko was also Mayor Daley’s pal, and who knows how much of Obama’s time was given away for free in exchange for political favor from an entrenched, powerful local political boss.

However, there’s still more ties Between Obama and Rezko:

Obama had been at the firm for two years when he began his political career, running to replace state Sen. Alice Palmer.

Rezko became Obama’s political patron. Obama got his first campaign contributions on July 31, 1995: $300 from a Loop lawyer, a $5,000 loan from a car dealer, and $2,000 from two food companies owned by Rezko.

Around that time, Rezmar began developing low-income apartments in partnerships with the Chicago Urban League and two other not-for-profit community groups, both founded and run by Bishop Arthur Brazier, pastor of the Apostolic Church of God and a powerful ally of the mayor — the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp., known as WPIC, and the Fund for Community Redevelopment and Revitalization.

All three community groups were clients of the Davis law firm. Davis himself was treasurer of WPIC when it went into business with Rezmar.

[…]

Obama spent the next eight years serving in the Illinois Senate and continued to work for the Davis law firm.

Through its partnerships, Rezmar remained a client of the firm, according to ethics statements Obama filed while a state senator.

Davis said he didn’t remember Obama working on the Rezmar projects.

“I don’t recall Barack having any involvement in real estate transactions,” Davis said. “Barack was a litigator. His area of focus was litigation, class-action suits.”

But Obama did legal work on real estate deals while at Davis’ firm, according to biographical information he submitted to the Sun-Times in 1998. Obama specialized “in civil rights litigation, real estate financing, acquisition, construction and/or redevelopment of low-and moderate income housing,” according to his “biographical sketch.”

And he did legal work on Rezko’s deals, according to an e-mail his presidential campaign staff sent the Sun-Times on Feb. 16, in response to earlier inquiries. The staff didn’t specify which Rezmar projects Obama worked on, or his role. But it drew a distinction between working for Rezko and working on projects involving his company.

“Senator Obama did not directly represent Mr. Rezko or his firms. He did represent on a very limited basis ventures in which Mr. Rezko’s entities participated along with others,” according to the e-mail from Obama’s staff.

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.

And now for the most famous of connections to Tony Rezko, the Obama “land deal”:

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.

My personal opinion is that Obama regrets the “bonehead” deal only because he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

As for specifics on the law cases that Obama worked on for Rezko, the Chicago Sun-Times notes:

Another firm partner, Judson Miner, ran the city Law Department under Mayor Harold Washington, one of Obama’s political idols.

Asked what Rezko cases Obama worked on, Miner told the Sun-Times, “We’ll put together a list of the cases he worked on involving Rezko/Rezmar in the next day or two.”

That was March 13. He never provided the information.

Gee…what a surprise.

Would have never guessed that one.

Needless to say, there is a lot of information connecting Obama to Rezko.  The ties are numerous.

It’s also interesting to point out that one the articles I mentioned above included the name of Allison Davis.

Who is Allison Davis?  Once more, the Chicago Sun-Times comes to the rescue:

As a young lawyer, Allison S. Davis was a City Hall outsider.

He criticized Mayor Richard J. Daley over the 1968 riots. He worked to integrate Chicago neighborhoods. And he fought to elect judges based on legal ability, not political connections.

Today, Davis is a consummate City Hall insider.

He’s a loyal ally of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who appointed Davis to Chicago’s prestigious Plan Commission. Davis has gotten deal after deal from the mayor, helping to make Davis one of the city’s top developers. And Davis has forged strong ties to the Daley family, doing deals with one of the mayor’s nephews and giving legal business to Daley & George, mayoral brother Michael Daley’s law firm.

Now, Davis finds himself in the glare of an unwanted spotlight.

One of his business partners, William Moorehead, recently began serving a four-year prison sentence for stealing more than $600,000 from at least 13 federally funded housing projects he managed — including two buildings that he and Davis co-own. During the period Moorehead has admitted he was stealing the money, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned, he lent Davis $100,000 — a loan that has drawn scrutiny from federal investigators, though Davis hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

And how is he connected to Barack Obama?

As Davis has become one of City Hall’s favored developers in the last 10 years, he also has become a major political player. He has donated more than $400,000 to dozens of political campaign funds. His top beneficiaries include Daley, Blagojevich and Sen. Barack Obama, who worked for several years as an attorney in Davis’ law firm.

Want more?  Again, from the Chicago Sun-Times:

As a state senator, Barack Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting his political patron Tony Rezko’s successful bid to get more than $14 million from taxpayers to build apartments for senior citizens.

The deal included $855,000 in development fees for Rezko and his partner, Allison S. Davis, Obama’s former boss, according to records from the project, which was four blocks outside Obama’s state Senate district.

Obama’s letters, written nearly nine years ago, for the first time show the Democratic presidential hopeful did a political favor for Rezko — a longtime friend, campaign fund-raiser and client of the law firm where Obama worked — who was indicted last fall on federal charges that accuse him of demanding kickbacks from companies seeking state business under Gov. Blagojevich.

The letters appear to contradict a statement last December from Obama, who told the Chicago Tribune that, in all the years he’s known Rezko, “I’ve never done any favors for him.”

On Tuesday, Bill Burton, press secretary for Obama’s presidential campaign, said the letters Obama wrote in support of the development weren’t intended as a favor to Rezko or Davis.

“This wasn’t done as a favor for anyone,” Burton said in a written statement. “It was done in the interests of the people in the community who have benefited from the project.

Riiiiiight.  No favors being done here.  Just because he has close ties to both, and both people were contributing to his campaign, there is no reciprocity whatsoever.

Nope.

Interestingly enough, Davis also secured funding for his “redevelopment projects” from the Woods Fund, which had (at the time) Obama as a board member.  The Boston Globe points out:

The developers gave Obama their financial support. Jarrett, Davis, and Rezko all served on Obama’s campaign finance committee when he won a seat in the US Senate in 2004.

[…]

Over roughly the past decade, Davis’s companies have received more than $100 million in subsidies to renovate and build more than 1,500 apartments in Chicago, according to a Chicago Sun-Times tally. In several cases, Davis partnered with Tony Rezko. In 1998 the two men created a limited partnership to build an apartment building for seniors on Chicago’s South Side. Obama wrote letters on state Senate stationery supporting city and state loans for the project.

In 2000 Davis asked the nonprofit Woods Fund of Chicago for a $1 million investment in a new development partnership, Neighborhood Rejuvenation Partners. Obama, a member of the board, voted in favor, helping Davis secure the investment.

Now, it should be mentioned that Barack Obama wants to do for the nation what he helped create in Chicago – low-cost, affordable housing.  Even his own website says so:

The final part of my plan to change the odds in our cities will be to ensure that more Americans have access to safe, affordable housing. As President, I’ll create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that would add as many as 112,000 new affordable units in mixed income neighborhoods. We’ll also do more to protect homeowners from mortgage fraud and subprime lending by passing my plan to provide counseling to tenants, homeowners, and other consumers so they get the advice and guidance they need before buying a house and support if they get in to trouble down the road. And we will crack down on mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud by increasing enforcement and creating new criminal penalties.

And where would that money come from?  Undoubtedly entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  You know, those same GSEs that are being bailed-out, as I write, because of gross financial mismanagement, and the unbelievable amount of bad debt they financed through low-cost mortgages.  By all accounts, Obama wants to go throttle-down, and do even more.

And what was the result of this in Chicago?  The Boston Globe is pretty specific:

The squat brick buildings of Grove Parc Plaza, in a dense neighborhood that Barack Obama represented for eight years as a state senator, hold 504 apartments subsidized by the federal government for people who can’t afford to live anywhere else.

But it’s not safe to live here.

About 99 of the units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. 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.

Grove Parc has become a symbol for some in Chicago of the broader failures of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing – an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing.

As a state senator, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee coauthored an Illinois law creating a new pool of tax credits for developers. As a US senator, he pressed for increased federal subsidies. And as a presidential candidate, he has campaigned on a promise to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could give developers an estimated $500 million a year.

But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies – including several hundred in Obama’s former district – deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.

Some of the residents of Grove Parc say they are angry that Obama did not notice their plight. The development straddles the boundary of Obama’s state Senate district. Many of the tenants have been his constituents for more than a decade.

“No one should have to live like this, and no one did anything about it,” said Cynthia Ashley, who has lived at Grove Parc since 1994.

Want to see pictures of what it’s like to live in Grove Parc?

Visions of things to come, if you ask me.

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