Hannity, Morris repeat refuted claims about the price of Obama's house
Research ››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER
On his radio show, Sean Hannity asked, "Did Obama know at the time that Rezko was saving him three hundred grand on the purchase of his home?" On Fox News, Dick Morris asserted: "Rezko paid market price for his property. He [Obama] didn't pay market price for his and they came from the same seller. Who is to say that that wasn't a switch?" But Hannity and Morris provided no support for the claim -- which has reportedly been refuted by the seller -- that Antoin Rezko's purchase of the adjacent property enabled Sen. Barack Obama to purchase his house at a discounted price.
On the June 5 edition of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity asked, "Did [Sen. Barack] Obama know at the time that [former Obama contributor Antoin "Tony"] Rezko was saving him 300 grand on the purchase of his home?" Additionally, on the June 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris asserted: "Rezko paid market price for his property. He [Obama] didn't pay market price for his and they came from the same seller. Who's to say that that wasn't a switch?" But Hannity and Morris provided no support for the claim -- which has reportedly been refuted by the seller -- that Rezko's purchase of the adjacent property enabled Obama to purchase his house at a discounted price. Bloomberg News reported in a February 18 article, "The couple who sold Barack Obama his Chicago home said the Illinois senator's $1.65 million bid 'was the best offer' and they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller."
The Chicago Tribune first reported on the purchase of the adjacent properties by the Obamas and Rezko's wife on November 1, 2006. According to documents available on the Obama campaign website, the original price of the house was $1.95 million, and the Obamas paid $1.65 million. On November 5, 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times published a Q&A in which the paper asked Obama: "Why is it that you were able to buy your parcel for $300,000 less than the asking price, and Rita Rezko paid full price? Who negotiated this end of the deal? Did whoever negotiated it have any contact with Rita and Tony Rezko or their Realtor or lawyer?" In a written response, Obama stated:
Our agent negotiated only with the seller's agent. As we understood it, the house had been listed for some time, for months, and our offer was one of two and, as we understood it, it was the best offer. The original listed price was too high for the market at the time, and we understood that the sellers, who were anxious to move, were prepared to sell the house for what they paid for it, which is what they did.
Also during his radio show, Hannity asserted that Obama purchased a portion of the parcel of land adjacent to the house from Rezko for "a cheap price," claiming Obama "really wanted that extra stretch of property, and he got it because the Rezkos parceled it off and sold it to him at a cheap price." However, according to documents posted on the Obama campaign website, Obama paid $104,166 for the piece of property -- well above its appraised value of $40,500.
As Media Matters for America has noted, the "extra stretch of property" -- which is adjacent to Obama's house -- was purchased by Rezko's wife in June 2005 for $625,000, and the Obamas subsequently purchased one-sixth of the property. Obama told the Chicago Tribune in a March 14 interview how the price for the parcel of land was determined: "[T]he appraisal did note that the other parcel, Rezko's remaining parcel, would be fully developable if he sold this to me. And so rather than pay the appraised price, I paid one-sixth of the cost of his property. He agreed to sell that 10-foot strip."
From the June 5 edition of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: There's a lot of questions that remain here, and the RNC's [Republican National Committee] trying to get some answer to this. You would think the mainstream, left-wing, MoveOn media would ask, you know, "Did Obama or his office do favors for Tony Rezko?" Senator Obama's ties to, you know, now, Tony Rezko, you know, what favors happened? Rezko had recommended a business associate's son for one of the coveted summer internships in Obama's Senate office, and he made a pitch. Well, what happened? As a state senator, Barack Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting Rezko's successful bid to get more than $14 million from taxpayers to build apartments for senior citizens.
Did Obama know at the time that Rezko was saving him 300 grand on the purchase of his home? Did he know that he'd get that extra strip of land, considering they bought it on the same day? Did Obama or could have Obama afforded his home without Rezko's help? Obama originally said he couldn't afford to purchase that parcel of land that Rezko's wife purchased and that the house itself was already a stretch. But yet he really wanted that extra property, and he got it because the Rezkos parceled it off and sold it to him at a cheap price. Obama later said, well, he didn't need help purchasing both or either of the tracts of land involved in the purchase of the home.
I mean, it's -- there's a whole lot to this that has not yet been examined or -- you know, it's just like the Clintons and Whitewater. You know, it's just hard to get to the bottom of this because the media is never going to ask the questions that need to be asked here. But Rezko -- again, their relationship goes back to when he first offered him a job after law school. We know that. We know that Obama and Rezko socialized often with their families. We know that Obama went to their lake house in Wisconsin. We know that Obama has said, "Oh, yeah, we'd have plenty of lunches and breakfast together. We'd talk about politics, we'd talk about family." "Yeah, I've known Rezko for 20 years" -- that's another quote of Obama.
From the June 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Now, I want to move on to the issue of the conviction of Tony Rezko, 16 of 24 counts. Father [Michael] Pfleger, he had a 20-year relationship -- a guy who embraces Farrakhan.
HANNITY: Reverend [Jeremiah] Wright, a 20-year relationship.
HANNITY: William Ayers -- this goes back 20 years.
HANNITY: The Rezko relationship goes back 20 years, and they have this --
HANNITY: -- property scheme of theirs together. Is this painting a new picture, a new narrative, or do people just -- is it sort of -- there's one controversy too many, they don't pay attention?
MORRIS: No, no. I think that you and others have done a very good job of projecting the Jeremiah Wright issue and the Ayers and all of that. But that's only half the negatives on Obama. The other half is that he comes from a cesspool. There is nothing dirtier than Chicago politics. The last two governors of Illinois are either in jail or on their way to jail.
MORRIS: And the -- there is nothing filthier than Chicago politics. And he came up in Chicago politics with this guy Rezko. And then they did this real estate deal. And, hey, a losing real estate deal on Whitewater haunted the Clintons for 20 years. This is one where he may have made money.
KIRSTEN POWERS (Fox News political analyst): Dick --
HANNITY: A lot of money.
POWERS: Dick --
HANNITY: And he got a good benefit, yeah.
MORRIS: And it's not clear -- Rezko paid market price for his property. He didn't pay market price for his, and they came from the same seller. Who's to say that that wasn't a switch?