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Shhh: Obama's Favorite Slumlord Sentenced to Decade in Prison

The Associated Press reports on the legal fate of crooked Chicagoland slumlord and political fixer, Antoin "Tony" Rezko:

A former top fundraiser for ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose trial exposed a culture of pay-to-play politics in Illinois, was sentenced Tuesday to serve seven more years in prison for corruption. Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a former Chicago real estate developer and fast-food entrepreneur, has been in custody for 3 1/2 years while awaiting sentencing. He was sentenced to a total of 10 1/2 [years] but will get credit for that time he has served.

His attorneys had asked U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve to set him free, arguing that he already has served more time than others who were convicted as part of the federal investigation of Blagojevich have or are expected to. Prosecutors had asked that Rezko receive a prison term of between 11 and 15 years. Rezko was convicted in 2008 of fraud, money laundering and plotting to squeeze $7 million in kickbacks from firms that wanted to do business with the state during Blagojevich's tenure. The governor was arrested six months later and convicted this year on charges that included trying to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's old Senate seat. He is set to be sentenced next month and is expected to get about 10 years.


Eight paragraphs in, the AP reporter deigns to name-check the president, but only to offer a perfunctory assurance that Obama is blessedly untainted by the stench of this scandal:

The 56-year-old Rezko also was a political fundraiser for Obama during his campaigns for Illinois senator, though not for his presidential campaign. Obama has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case, but his relationship with Rezko became an issue during the 2008 election.

Why was "his relationship with issue during the 2008 campaign," again?  Let's flash back to my column from June 2008 for a handy refresher:

Prior to Wednesday's verdict, the national Obamedia paid scant attention to the relationship between their preferred candidate and Mr. Rezko, who was convicted on 16 of 24 federal counts. A jury found Obama's longtime friend and financier guilty of aiding and abetting bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering—all of which will likely contribute to a lengthy prison sentence. The federal convict and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee have known each other for the better part of two decades, with the former raising approximately $250,000 for the latter's various campaigns. After Rezko first offered Obama a job in the early 1990s, a friendship and political alliance was born; the two men shared dinners, joint outings with their wives, and a lucrative political network. Rezko served on Obama's financing committee during his 2004 campaign, helping to raise approximately $160,000 for the aspiring U.S. Senator. Shortly thereafter, dark clouds began to gather over Chateau Rezko.

By 2005, Rezko's shady business deals and alleged illegal activities had been widely reported in the Chicago press. Even so, Obama decided it would be a wise move to enter into a major property deal with his scandal-tainted friend. On the very same day Obama paid $1.65 million (a substantially smaller sum than the asking price) for his Hyde Park mansion, another buyer purchased an adjoining lot for $625,000—an additional sum the Obama's could not afford. The new owner? Rezko's wife, Rita, who somehow managed to secure the property despite an annual salary of $37,000. A short while later, Mrs. Rezko generously sold a strip of her new property to Obama so he could build a fence he had been hoping for. At the time of this second transaction, Obama admits he knew Rezko was experiencing some "legal problems." Nonetheless, the deal went through and a lovely wrought-iron fence—paid for by Rezko—was erected between the two properties. The whole episode worked out pretty nicely for Obama. One might even call it an "exchange we can believe in."


After Hillary Clinton pointedly pursued this point during a contentious 2008 primary debate, ABC News' Brian Ross investigated the matter and filed this report (apologies for the choppy video):

When confronted about this hazy timeline by the Chicago Tribune editorial board, candidate Obama acknowledged a few minor "lapses in judgment," but insisted that the same-day purchases of adjoining plots of land was entirely coincidental.  The Trib editors pronounced the tale "plausible."  Remember, Obama went on national television in January 2008 to claim he'd had "no inkling" that Rezko was involved in any "wrongdoing."  Two months later, he was spinning a new yarn about making a "bone-headed move" by entering real estate dealings with a man whose legal troubles had been widely reported in the Chicago press.  Minor details.  The media was far more interested in giggling about how many homes John McCain owned.

None of this will, or should, be an issue in 2012.  President Obama will have to run on his record as the nation's chief executive.  But today's headline serves a helpful reminder that much of the press is hopelesly biased, and that Barack Obama's HopenChange act was a massive fraud from the beginning.  He was, and is, steeped in the Chicago Way.


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