Obama’s glass houses
Does he want to start throwing stones?
Since how many houses John McCain has seems to be the issue du jour, David Freddoso takes some time to discuss Obama’s house and his pal Tony Rezko.
Barack Obama has admitted it was “boneheaded” to get involved in a land deal with Tony Rezko, his friend and fund-raiser. But the media’s focus on that deal has distracted from the bigger question: Why would Obama become involved in any deal with a man like Rezko, who made his living sponging off taxpayers and corrupting public officials? Because, by the time of the deal, the two already had a long relationship of mutual benefit.
The deal’s details are well-known: On June 15, 2005, Obama bought a gorgeous house in Hyde Park for $1.65 million – $300,000 below the list price. Rezko bought the empty but attractive lot next door from the same seller at the same time; Obama would later buy part of Rezko’s lot, overpaying him.
The transaction was shady, but not obviously corrupt. The overall Obama-Rezko relationship looks worse.
In October 1998, Obama wrote city and state officials, urging them to give Rezko $14 million to build an apartment complex outside of Obama’s state Senate district. The Chicago Sun-Times noted last year that Obama’s request included $855,000 in “development fees” for Rezko and for another developer, Allison Davis, who happened to be Obama’s old law-firm boss. Obama’s spokesman said it was just a coincidence that the state senator wrote letters to obtain millions of dollars for his two longtime friends.
[. . .]
* In 2001, Obama cosponsored a bill allowing developers to sell state tax credits to others and pocket half of the proceeds.
* In 2002 and 2004, he was chief cosponsor of a bill to authorize a rent-subsidy fund giving “grants . . . directly to developers” of low-income housing. Seventy percent of the money was earmarked for the Chicago area.
* Obama cosponsored the Illinois Housing Initiative Act of 2003, which required the governor to develop a plan for more low-income housing and “provide[d] for funding for housing construction and rehabilitation and supportive services.”
* In 2003, Obama voted for the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act, which required Illinois municipalities to make 10 percent of their housing units “affordable” (by definition, this included subsidized housing). This forced 46 communities just outside of Chicago to create more than 7,000 new “affordable” units – a huge boost in demand for area developers. The bill also provided loopholes for developers to circumvent local ordinances and regulations.
After voting for this measure (it passed narrowly), Obama then cosponsored a new bill that moved up its implementation by more than a year.
These and the other Obama-backed bills helped make millionaires of Rezko and other slum developers at taxpayers’ expense. The developers – including his former law boss and an adviser to his current campaign – reciprocated, together giving and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s campaigns.
And of course this Boston Globe article is a must read on Obama’s dismal record on the issue of low income housing.
Maybe Obama shouldn’t be so quick to bring up housing as an issue . . .
Also, if being rich and having a lot of houses means you are out of touch with Americans, I wonder how Obama feels about his friend, and 2004 Democratic nominee, John Kerry:
From a sailing mecca to a ski resort, presumptive Democrat nominee John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, enjoy the trappings of their wealth in at least five homes and vacation getaways across the country valued at nearly $33 million.
I am surprised that Obama really wants to make this an issue.