Barack Obama has portrayed himself as a principled leader who got his start as a community organizer. As president, he has envisioned himself as a hero of the working class, depicting Mitt Romney as a heartless corporate raider who is only looking out for the moneyed interests. Yet, interestingly enough, the Obamas themselves have also been accused of helping political insiders at the expense of the poor, possibly receiving personal benefits in exchange.
During the 2008 election, Hilary Clinton accused Barack Obama of representing “slum landlord” Tony Rezko, helping Rezko develop substandard housing projects for inner-city residents. As an Illinois state senator, Obama also wrote letters to city and state officials, supporting the use of taxpayer funds on a Rezko project. Some critics suggested that Rezko repaid Obama through campaign contributions and personal payoffs. In 2005, for example, the Obamas and Rezko simultaneously closed on a house and an adjacent vacant lot, respectively. Many argued that Rezko overpaid for the lot, effectively subsidizing their purchase. Barack Obama forcefully countered these charges, noting that he represented a local church group, not Rezko, and that other local officials also supported the taxpayer funding. Obama further insisted that he did not coordinate his house purchase with Rezko in any manner whatsoever.
Meanwhile, Michelle Obama came under scrutiny after she was promoted to Vice President for community and external relations at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Her promotion in 2005 came with a huge salary increase. Many wondered if the University was indirectly rewarding her husband, a recently elected US Senator, who made an earmark request to help pay for the Medical Center’s pavilion project. Even more shocking, Congressman Bobby Rush accused the University, and by extension Michelle Obama, of patient dumping in 2009. Rush called for a congressional investigation, complaining that Michelle’s signature program steered uninsured inner-city residents from the Medical Center to satellite clinics. In both cases, a University spokesperson responded to the allegations. Regarding any lobbying for money, government affairs officials, not Michelle Obama, would have handled any requests. As for their Urban Health Initiative, people simply misunderstood the program, which promoted medical homes in neighborhoods.
As is typical, these stories exploded in press reports, only to eventually fade from public discourse and consciousness. The Obamas and their supporters had reasonable explanations for each situation, and, beyond the steamy headlines, no one provided any evidence to counter their arguments or to suggest a broader scheme of wrongdoing. In reality, journalist simply lacked necessary framework to understand Barack Obama’s early career and his role in Chicago politics.
Beyond the obvious associations, all of the Obama controversies have a common thread, the University of Chicago and its community affairs department. The Obamas were integral elements in University’s well-designed and fully integrated strategy to end its conflicts with its poor minority neighbors. In order to execute their ambitious plan, community affairs executives embarked on an extensive array of development projects and social welfare initiatives that required significant taxpayer funds. They created Michelle’s positions and oversaw her advancement in the University, ensuring favorable access to and results from Barack Obama. Journalists failed to connect Michelle’s employment to Barack’s political activities because they did not understand the University’s strategy, its expansive agenda, or its methods for executing that agenda through an assortment of non-profit organizations. Barack Obama effectively concealed his efforts on behalf of the University and his wife by pursuing taxpayer funds for the non-profit agencies that actually implemented the University’s initiatives.
Furthermore, journalists failed to note that the University had a financial interest in the properties that Obama and Rezko purchased, raising serious questions about its employer-assisted housing programs and its efforts on behalf of key personnel. Even worse, reporters overlooked documented evidence that proves Obama and Rezko coordinated their transactions. Obama and Rezko manipulated private zoning rights, as controlled by a restrictive covenant, to significantly adjust the price of the properties. Obama knowingly lied about these details, which fully explain how he bought his house at such a steep discount and why he subsequently purchased a buffer lot between their properties. Even more intriguing, the evidence supports a broader inquiry as to whether Obama, Rezko and the University structured four transactions, including the sale of the Obamas’ prior condo, to assist the Obamas in the purchase of their home.
As will be revealed by the details of these stories, Barack Obama was the ultimate Chicago politician who self-servingly pursued the agenda of his state senate district’s most powerful business interest, overlooking the impact on his most vulnerable constituents. In The Obamas and Chicago Politics: A Guide to Wisdom, we explore Barack Obama’s Chicago career in three chapters:
1) The University of Chicago and the Obamas – Coming Soon
2) The Obama-Rezko Property Transactions, Part I – Now Available, see October postings.
3) The Obama-Rezko Property Transactions, Part II – Coming Soon
© 2012 JT Galt Omega.
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