The federal trial of Tony Rezko on bribery and extortion charges gets underway today in Chicago, Illinois.
Barack Obama and his supporters here on myDD have insisted that he has thoroughly addressed all questions about his relationship with Rezko.
But many concerned citizens are more skeptical. We believe that Sen. Obama's association with Rezko should be vetted to an exhausting degree because these issues go to the heart of Obama's promise to bring a "new way of doing business" to Washington based on integrity, hope, and change.
The Hillary Clinton campaign released a memo today pressing Sen. Obama to answer tougher questions about his involvement with the corrupt Mr. Rezko.
Concerned citizens encourage Sen. Obama to respond.
MEMO: Questions Sen. Obama Should Answer About Tony Rezko
To: Interested Parties
From: Clinton Campaign
Date: Monday, March 03, 2008
Regarding: Questions Sen. Obama Should Answer About Tony Rezko
The trial of indicted influence peddler Tony Rezko - longtime friend and political patron of Sen. Barack Obama -- starts today . Sen. Obama's name has already surfaced in pre-trial documents submitted by the prosecution and, according to media reports, is likely to surface again as the trial progresses. Democrats deserve the answers to these questions as they consider their votes:
1. Will Sen. Obama release all documents related to his relationship with Tony Rezko, including all documents related to his controversial land transaction?
Howard Wolfson asked top Obama strategist David Axelrod this question on ABC's This Week and the campaign has yet to respond. [ABC's This Week, 3/2/08]
2. When, specifically, did Sen. Obama become aware of Mr. Rezko's legal problems?
On national television this January, Sen. Obama said "no one had an inkling" of Rezko's legal troubles during the course of their relationship. Actually, it was already widely reported that Mr. Rezko was under investigation for participating in a kickback scheme prior to their controversial land transaction. [CBS, 1/23/08; Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/05]
3. Sen. Obama has returned money from several individuals who are publicly associated with Mr. Rezko. How much money did Mr. Rezko bundle for Sen. Obama's campaigns in total, including people who are not business associates of Mr. Rezko? How many fundraisers did Mr. Rezko hold for Sen. Obama? Has there been an internal investigation to determine how many straw donors Mr. Rezko used to funnel money to Sen. Obama?
The Obama campaign has returned money from people who are publicly associate with Mr. Rezko. But they have not revealed who much Mr. Rezko bundled for Sen. Obama in total. The Chicago Sun Times reported that the Obama campaign "declined to say" whether they maintained a list of the money that Mr. Rezko raised for Mr. Obama over the course of his career. [Chicago Sun Times, 1/23/08]
4. Much of the upcoming trial involves Mr. Rezko's efforts to control state boards as a means to defraud the state government. Have Sen. Obama and Mr. Rezko ever communicated about potential appointments to Illinois boards and commissions? It's been publicly reported that Sen. Obama lobbied these same state boards to secure contracts for campaign donors. Did Sen. Obama ever confer with Mr. Rezko concerning how to successfully lobby state boards?
The indictment alleges that Mr. Rezko manipulated state government boards to defraud the people of Illinois. At the same time, "Mr. Obama met with three state pension boards," urging them to give contracts to specific firms. Later, employees of these companies "donated more than $300,000 to help Mr. Obama win his seat in the United States Senate in 2004 and set fund-raising records early in the 2008 presidential race." [New York Times, 10/01/07]
5. The New York Times reported that Sen. Obama attended a business meeting on behalf of Mr. Rezko to impress potential investors for his business schemes. How many events did Sen. Obama attend on behalf of Mr. Rezko to impress investors? What was his role? Why did Sen. Obama agree to attend?
The New York Times reported in June that "Former Rezko associates said that Governor Blagojevich attended one of the dinners, and that at Mr. Rezko's request, Mr. Obama dropped in at one for Middle Eastern bankers in early 2004, just as he was starting to pull ahead in the Senate primary. The visits, Mr. Rezko's partners said, helped impress foreign guests." [New York Times, 6/14/07]
6. How many times did Senator Obama visit Tony Rezko's house? What was the purpose of these visits?
The Times of London reports that "The court is also expected to hear from John Thomas, an FBI mole, who reportedly witnessed Mr Obama and Mr Blagojevich making frequent visits to Mr Rezko." [The Times, 3/3/08]
7. Did Sen. Obama intercede on behalf of Mr. Rezko in any governmental capacity?
The Chicago Sun Times reported that "As a state senator, Barack Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting his political patron Tony Rezko's successful bid to get more than $14 million from taxpayers to build apartments for senior citizens." They have not said whether there were any other actions that Obama took for the benefit of Rezko. [Chicago Sun Times, 6/13/07]