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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
MRC Likens Obama to 'Duke' Cunningham
Topic: Media Research Center

A March 3 MRC "Media Reality Check" by Tim Graham creates its own reality by likening Barack Obama's connection to on-trial businessman Tony Rezko to notoriously corrupt congressman 'Duke' Cunningham's cronyism with lobbyists:

Jury selection began today in Chicago in the trial of Syrian-born businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a major supporter of Barack Obama. Two days before the 2006 elections in which Democrats won by running against a “culture of corruption,” Chicago newspapers revealed that Obama purchased a home that summer for $1.6 million, but only because Rezko’s wife bought an adjoining parcel for $625,000 to complete the deal. Rezko was already under federal investigation for kickback schemes.

To a political opponent, this might resemble a lobbyist’s sweetheart deal like the one that started Rep. Duke Cunningham’s political decline, where a lobbyist paid $700,000 more for Cunningham’s home than his own sale price months later.

A "political opponent" like, say, Graham?

But the Obama-Rezko house controversy is nothing like Cunningham's hidden house kickback. Obama made no profit and, indeed, paid what is considered a fair market rate for his house. None of the charges on which Rezko faces trial involve Obama. And, as TPM Muckraker points out, "no substantial evidence has surfaced" to support the claim that "Obama ever did anything for Rezko in return for his purchase of the side yard or all those contributions" to Obama's political campaigns. That contradicts Graham's snarky aside: "How many lunches would a lobbyist have to buy to equal Rezko’s $625,000 parcel purchase?"

Graham claimed that Obama was able to buy the house "only because Rezko’s wife bought an adjoining parcel for $625,000 to complete the deal." But that's not necessarily true; as TPM Muckraker notes:

The main suspicion has been that Rezko's purchase of the side yard at the seller's asking price allowed Obama's purchase of the house to go through since the seller insisted on closing both properties on the same day. But both Obama and Rezko have said that someone else had bid on the side yard, raising the bidding to the asking price. If that's the case, then Obama could have bought the house without Rezko's involvement. And Obama has said that his family has stayed off the side yard and never used it for family activities.

While TPM Muckraker notes that there are unanswered questions about the purchase of the house and lot, Graham has simply assumed the worst interpretation for Obama without detailing the actual facts involved.

Graham also curiously fails to note that Cunningham is a Republican. We can't imagine why... 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:04 AM EST

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