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By the way, on ABC's This Week yesterday, Barack Obama said that he has had a "20-year" relationship with Tony Rezko, not the 17-year relationship typically described by newspaper reporters who are unable to interview Obama on his relationship with the influence peddler indicted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.  In my Saturday story, "Politics Is A Blood Sport," I noted that Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet pointed out that "Obama has never agreed to an interview about Rezko."  

There's also an exceptional Boston Globe op-ed I quoted from, written by a Democratic media consultant in Boston, "Worrying about Obama":  

Who's this slumlord? While running as a reformer, Obama has had a 17-year relationship with an indicted Chicago con man who's going on trial for fraud, extortion, and money laundering. ABC News found that Obama has been close to Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a major slumlord and wheeler-dealer who used minority set-asides and community groups as fronts to win government contracts.

As a state senator, Obama wrote letters to the city and state backing Rezko's successful bid to get $14 million in tax money to build senior citizen housing that wasn't in Obama's district.

ABC and the Chicago Sun-Times both found that Obama asked for and got Rezko's help in buying land neighboring Rezko's property for $300,000 below the asking price. When the deal became public, Obama said it was a mistake that he regrets. He may not be done regretting it.

The Sun-Times has learned that Obama is the unnamed political candidate in the federal indictment against Rezko. His US Senate campaign got $10,000 out of quarter-million-dollar scheme engineered by Rezko.

Obama's dealings with Rezko took place while it was well known that Rezko was under investigation by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who sent Scooter Libby to jail. Rezko goes on trial Feb. 25, three weeks after Feb. 5, when half of all the delegates will be chosen. ...  Read all of  "Worrying about Obama."

From today's Chicago Tribune story on Rezko's rearrest:

... Tom Simon, an FBI spokesman, said a bond revocation hearing was continued until 12:30 p.m.

"We can confirm that Tony Rezko was arrested without incident this morning at his home in Wilmette," Simon said.

Rezko, a former adviser and top fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, was taken into custody at O'Hare International Airport after he was indicted in 2006. He had flown back to Chicago from Syria to face charges he used his relationships with top state officials to extort companies wanting to do business with two state boards.

Rezko had been released on bail after pleading not guilty in the case, and after a group of his friends had put up nine properties worth $1.5 million to secure his release.

Rezko allegedly used the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board and the state's Teachers Retirement System Board to extort kickbacks. Stuart Levine, a member of both, has pleaded guilty to taking part in the kickback scheme and is expected to be the key government witness against Rezko.

The government in December filed a document in the case, moving the misconduct closer to Blagojevich, described in the document as Public Official A. The document states that Blagojevich had told Levine to stick with him and his contacts and "you will do very well for yourself."

Rezko also has become an issue in the presidential campaign because of his long association with Democratic candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. More than $80,000 in campaign contributions linked to Rezko and given to Obama have now been donated to charity.

MORE ON THE REZKO/OBAMA CONNECTIONS:

SEE OTHER STORIES and VIDEOS at NoQuarter:

Tony Rezko has never contributed a dime to Hillary or Bill Clinton. They have no relationship with Tony Rezko.

Tony Rezko has been described as Sen. Obama's "political patron" and friend of 17 years.

Tony Rezko and his associates have directly donated over $200,000 to Sen. Obama, and bundled more, but Sen. Obama has only returned $85,000. Sen. Obama's name recently appeared in court documents because it was revealed some money Rezko raised was funneled through at least one straw donor or stolen from the government.

Sen. Obama wrote letters to city and state officials that helped secure $14 million for Rezko in taxpayer money.

Sen. Obama helped Rezko impress potential investors by appearing at his business meetings.

Most famously, Sen. Obama and Rezko were involved in a controversial real estate transaction.

SEE OTHER STORIES at NoQuarter:

::::::::::::::

SEE ALSO:  My Sunday story, "Look Before You Leap: Obama’s Mobbed-Up Allies."  This story focuses on Illinois state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who Obama backed heavily and did TV ads for (I have one of those TV ads featuring Obama that you can view).  

When he ran in 2006 for state treasurer, Giannoulias was a 29-year-old man who'd never held public office but is part of a family that owns a Chicago bank with direct ties to both Tony Rezko and the Mob.  It was principally because of Obama's pressure on Democrats and Obama's prodigious fund-raising that Giannoulias got elected.

Originally posted to SusanHu on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 09:30 AM PST.

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