Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign may be drawing attention to their GOP rival John McCain’s multiple houses at their own peril.
Obama’s campaign has been trying to paint McCain as an “elitist” by criticizing the homes owns with his wife, Cindy. When asked by a Politico reporter how many homes he had, McCain deflected the question to his staff because he was unsure how many condominiums Cindy currently owned.
Obama and his supporters pounced on the story. At a stop in Chester, Virginia Obama said, "If you don’t know how many houses you have, it’s not surprising you might think the economy is fundamentally strong.By the way, the answer is John McCain has seven homes. We can’t afford eight more years, or four more years, or one more year of the same failed economic policies that George Bush has put in place.” The Service Employees International Union followed suit by creating a web video titled “McCain’s Mansions” suggesting McCain is out of touch with American’s housing woes.
The McCain campaign is happily returning fire. “Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said Thursday.
The convicted felon Rogers referred to is Tony Rezko, who played a role in helping Obama expand the $1.65 million mansion Obama purchased $300,000 below the list price on Chicago’s South Side in 2005. Rezko's wife, Rita, coincidentally purchased land adjacent to the Obama's property on the same day, at the full list price, and later sold a parcel of it to the Obama's which made the Obama's yard bigger.
Before Obama bought the house he had assisted Rezko in securing millions of tax dollars for housing developments as an Illinois state legislator.
Rezko was convicted on 16 of 24 federal corruption counts earlier this year. The charges were unrelated to Obama, but drew attention to Obama’s cozy relationship with the felon. Obama told the press his decision to become involved with Rezko “a boneheaded move.”
Over the Fourth of July Weekend, the Washington Post revealed Obama had also secured a reduced mortgage for the same home, on top of the Rezko's discount, saving him more than $300 a month in mortgage payments. "Shortly after joining the U.S. Senate and while enjoying a surge in income, Barack Obama bought a $1.65 million restored Georgian mansion in an upscale Chicago neighborhood. To finance the purchase, he secured a $1.32 million loan from Northern Trust in Illinois. The freshman Democratic senator received a discount. He locked in an interest rate of 5.625 percent on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, below the average for such loans at the time in Chicago,” Post reporter Joe Stephens wrote.
Obama’s ties to shady mortgage deals extend beyond his own home, too.
Obama’s vice presidential “vetter” Jim Johnson, a former Fannie Mae CEO, also received a discount mortgage. Johnson was dismissed from the Obama campaign after details of his sweetheart mortgage deal were revealed to the public.