Obama Hits a Rough Spot

Media darling Sen. Barak Obama, who says he might consider a 2008 presidential run, has hit a rough spot on personal ethics.

Jane at Firedoglake has some thoughts on this, and says "the bloom is off the rose."

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    Pretty thin (none / 0) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 02:42:05 PM EST
    What is it that Obama did wrong exactly?

    Jeralyn, Rezko is under investigation, not even indicted. Obama bought a strip of land from the guy. Was it a sweetheart price?

    I have my problems with Obama, as these pages well document, but i am not following what he supposedly did here.

    world comes to a stop (none / 0) (#17)
    by archpundit on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 11:04:03 AM EST
    We agree--actually it was dumb of Obama to get involved at all with Rezko, but ultimately he paid more than he normally would have for the strip of land.  

    Rezko tried to get a favor on him and Obama should have known that and avoided Rezko completely, but Obama received no benefit.  

    The story seems to have died once Obama said he did a dumb thing and answered the questions as well as he could.  


    I'd assume... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 02:48:06 PM EST
     the suspicion is that Obama got a sweetheart deal because the seller agreed to a package deal where Rezko paid a premium for his land.

      Whether there is any truth to that, who knows?

    Actually--there is paper record (none / 0) (#18)
    by archpundit on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 11:06:03 AM EST
    From what I understand the bids for the two pieces are known and essentially Obama was the high bidder for his property and Rezko paid about $25,000 over the next highest bid for the lot.

    Rezko should have sent any politician running, but Obama did pretty much document everything pretty well. Dumb, not really fatal though.  


    Plus Murtha (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 02:50:53 PM EST
    has had some ethics issues come to light.  I'm not surprised...both parties are seriously void of ethics.  They have both had the run of the place for too long...we need new parties and new blood desperately.

    btw (none / 0) (#4)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 02:55:45 PM EST
      Rezko has been indicted.

    He didn't do anything (none / 0) (#5)
    by mindfulmission on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 03:08:22 PM EST
    Obama really didn't do anything wrong or unethical.

    All he did was join in on a real estate deal with someone who did something wrong elswhere.

    Rezko was indicted, but his indictment had absolutely nothing to do with his dealings with Obama.

    BTW... (none / 0) (#6)
    by mindfulmission on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 03:09:02 PM EST
    It is not a new story.  That story was written on the 7th, and it quickly left the media cycle when people realized that Obama had nothing to hide and did nothing wrong.

    I'd prefer.... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 03:12:59 PM EST
    our senators stay away from shady land deals alltogether.  They make 6 figure salaries....how much cash do ya need?

    We'll see... (none / 0) (#8)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 03:16:24 PM EST
     I don't know how anyone can draw any conclusions one way or the other at this point. The fact Rezko has been indicted, by Patrick Fitzgerald's office, sure might make one worry about what Rezko might ultimately have to say. Especially, since Rezko was coincidentally involved in another real estate deal with a local pol that has drawn scrutiny because the pol got such  a good deal. Neither of those deals are subjects of the indictment but when deals are cut, information of interest to prosecutors on other matters have a tendency to be used as chips.


    What Obama said about it (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 03:17:08 PM EST
    From the article:

    "This is the first time this has happened and I don't like the feeling,'' Obama said. "It's frustrating to me, and I'm kicking myself about it."

    To recap: Obama inked a book deal after winning election to the Senate in 2004. With his new wealth, in June 2005, Obama bought a $1.65 million mansion in Kenwood, some $300,000 below asking price. Rezko's wife Rita paid $625,000, the list price, for an adjacent empty lot the Rezkos may develop.

    ....So what did he learn from the Rezko transactions? Obama said, "One of the things you purchase in public life is that there are going to be a different set of standards, and I'm going to make sure from this point on I don't even come close to the line."

    No one says he did anything wrong. But it raises questions about his relationship to Rezko, now under indictment, and who was a friend of Obama's since law school and a fundraiser.

    When the deals went down, Rezko -- who befriended Obama when he was a nobody Harvard law student -- was already cast in news stories as a controversial figure and political fundraiser.

    By January 2006, when Obama bought a strip of Rezko's yard, Rezko's status was elevated to politically radioactive, since it was known he was under investigation by federal prosecutors.

    Its not the normal way Americans buy houses (none / 0) (#13)
    by Andra on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 09:31:59 PM EST
    The normal way to buy a house is to make an offer and arrive at a sales price with the sellers and not involve extra parties like Mr. Rezko and his wife.  This looks very bad, IMO.  My reaction is, "They just can't help it.  Politicians just can't help it; someone offers them a sweet deal and they can't help taking it."  

    They were separate transactions (none / 0) (#20)
    by archpundit on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 11:17:22 AM EST
    The two plots were listed separately.  Negotiations were completely separate from all indications.  

    The bids on the house were lower than the asking price with Obama's the higher.  The bids on the lot were near the asking price with the next bid below Rezko being about $25,000 less.  

    The only way in which the deals were joined is that the seller was leaving Chicago and needed to close on the same day.  

    The mistake was buying the strip of land. Obama paid nearly 2 1/2 times the assessed value of that strip even then, but getting into any deal with Rezko was dumb.  


    Rezko is tied to many Illinois Democrats (none / 0) (#19)
    by archpundit on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 11:13:24 AM EST
    And that's what raised the red flags.

    There's lots of indications Rezko tried to influence Obama, but Obama seems to have been smart enough to keep the documentation clear and paid more than market value.  That said, given what has been known about Rezko, it was a dumb move.  

    The situation with the house and the lot is confusing, but essentially the properties were listed separately.  Obama had the high bid for the House and Rezko had the high bid by about $25,000 for the lot.  All guesses suggest Rezko probably did it to get an in with Obama, but the real estate deal itself is pretty clean.  Both were high bidders and the previous owner listed the properties separately--and sold to the high bidders.  

    He needed to use better judgment on buying the strip of land--which he admits, but by all indications he paid more than market value for the strip.  

    The stupid part on Obama's part was knowing that Rezko was involved in several investigations dealing with buying influence he should have stayed away entirely.  

    I think it's fair to say that this is one example of how Obama could use more seasoning before a run, but in the long run, it won't affect his later chances.  


    Why not (none / 0) (#10)
    by aw on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 03:40:06 PM EST
    Just wait 18 years and bring it back as Whitewater II?

    Naive?? (none / 0) (#11)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:49:27 PM EST
    Underpriced real estate has long been a staple of developers and others buying political influence.

    I think we can look out west to San Diego and see a recent example.

    Is Obama guilty? I don't know. If not he is very naive, further indication that his fitness to serve needs careful review.

    How do you know (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:16:39 PM EST
    it was underpriced?

    Buying favors (none / 0) (#14)
    by Pancho on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 10:20:21 PM EST
    It is no worse than Hilary's miracle commodities trading payoff, and she skated. Isn't she who he will be up against? Very questionable, but this will be a cheap lesson for him. He does not need sweetheart deals from shady characters.

    You'd think... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 07:05:20 AM EST
     any politician, savvy or not, would recognize the perceptions of something like this. It's just not how "normal" people, even well-to-do ones, purchase a house. It does stretch credulity to believe that Rezko just coincidentally happened to be interested in the adjacent land and purchased it without rergard to Obama's interest in the adjacent plot.

      Is it possible that Rezko just learned of a nice piece of investment property  and then told Obama about the nice house next door the same seller was looking to sell? It's possible.  Is it possible  Obama who wanted plot with the house but didn't want to buy the adjacent property simply told Rezko that he didn't want both parcels but that the seller was insisting on selling both at once and Rezko simply thought it was a good investment? It's possible.

      The fact that innocent explanations are possible should not have obscured the obvious reality that not so innocent scenarios appear quite possible.

       At best it was very dubious judgment.

    I'd much rather read about that than this kinda stuff that evokes memories of the Mellon-Scaife witch hunts of the Clintons.

    From where is this stuff about bids coming ? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 04:17:09 PM EST
     Private sellers selling real estate do not receive formal public bids. Did the seller produce written offers  from other arms-length parties to support the assertion obama and Rezko each made the highest offers or is this stuff about these being the highest  just to be taken at face value based on bloggers saying so?

    Based on Documents Provided to the Sun-Times (none / 0) (#22)
    by archpundit on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 12:30:33 PM EST
    Private sellers do receive bids and the listing of property is documented.  This story is 2 weeks old now.  It's about looking at what has already been reported.