Thursday, July 05, 2007

An Obama Patron and Friend Until an Indictment

Who doesn't have a funder who turns out to be a sleazeball -- the Clintons have them coming out of their ears...

Back in the 1990s, Mr. Rezko’s office was adorned with framed photos of candidates he viewed as up-and-comers. Among them was Barack Obama, a state legislator whose first campaign donations included $2,000 from Mr. Rezko’s companies. As Mr. Obama built a career that carried him to the Senate in 2004, Mr. Rezko was there with him, holding fund-raisers and rallying support.

Now, as Mr. Obama runs for president, the once-beneficial relationship with his old friend and patron has become problematic.

Last fall, Mr. Rezko was indicted on federal charges of business fraud and influence peddling involving the administration of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, whose picture was also on Mr. Rezko’s wall. Since then, Mr. Obama, a Democrat, has had to answer questions about a land deal with Mr. Rezko’s wife, Rita, and about other ties to him.

Since early June, Mr. Obama has given to charity more than $21,000 in donations that his Senate campaign had received from Rezko associates now linked to the federal inquiries. He gave away $11,500 from Mr. Rezko himself last fall.

Mr. Obama says he never did any favors for Mr. Rezko, who raised about $150,000 for his campaigns over the years and was once one of the most powerful men in Illinois. There is no sign that Mr. Obama, who declined to be interviewed for this article, did anything improper.

Mr. Obama has portrayed Mr. Rezko as a one-time fund-raiser whom he had occasionally seen socially. But interviews with more than a dozen political and business associates suggest that the two men were closer than the senator has indicated.

An Obama Patron and Friend Until an Indictment
Published: June 14, 2007

CHICAGO — Antoin Rezko, an entrepreneur of considerable charm who found riches in fast food and real estate, is known around Chicago as a collector of politicians.

Antoin Rezko was indicted last fall on federal charges of business fraud and influence peddling involving the Illinois governor’s administration.


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