In Obama Revealed special, CNN's Malveaux baselessly suggested Obamas got special deal on house

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

In a CNN special titled Obama Revealed, Suzanne Malveaux baselessly claimed that convicted Chicago businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko "enable[d] Obama to buy his house at $300,000 below the asking price." According to Bloomberg News, "[t]he 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."

In an August 20 CNN special titled Obama Revealed, host Suzanne Malveaux baselessly claimed that Sen. Barack Obama had a "high number of present votes" in the Illinois state Senate and falsely claimed that convicted Chicago businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko "enable[d] Obama to buy his house at $300,000 below the asking price." Malveaux offered no support for her claim that Obama's number of present votes was "high." As PolitiFact.com has noted, Christopher Mooney, a political scientist at the University of Illinois-Springfield, has said: "Everyone I've spoken to who's familiar with this, including lobbyists and people who are engaged in opposition research, say the number of times he voted present on a proportional basis was probably a little less than average." And contrary to Malveaux's claim that Rezko "enable[d] Obama to buy his house at $300,000 below the asking price," according to Bloomberg News, "[t]he 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."

Malveaux also stated that Obama's house purchase, in conjunction with Rezko's wife's purchase of the adjoining property, "had the appearance of influence-buying." However, in a March 16 editorial, the Chicago Tribune wrote that Obama had "offered a lengthy and, to us, plausible explanation for the presence of now-indicted businessman Tony Rezko in his personal and political lives." From the March 16 editorial:

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama waited 16 months to attempt the exorcism. But when he finally sat down with the Tribune editorial board Friday, Obama offered a lengthy and, to us, plausible explanation for the presence of now-indicted businessman Tony Rezko in his personal and political lives.

The most remarkable facet of Obama's 92-minute discussion was that, at the outset, he pledged to answer every question the three dozen Tribune journalists crammed into the room would put to him. And he did.

[...]

Less protection, less control, would have meant less hassle for his campaign. That said, Barack Obama now has spoken about his ties to Tony Rezko in uncommon detail. That's a standard for candor by which other presidential candidates facing serious inquiries now can be judged.

From the August 20 CNN special Obama Revealed:

MALVEAUX: Obama had a high number of present votes. It's a technique many legislators used on politically sensitive issues to indicate they were present for a vote without committing for or against. Obama did it 129 times in his eight years in the Senate. His critics charge he wouldn't commit on controversial votes.

STATE SEN. RICKEY HENDON (D-IL): Some people would also say that that's smart politics.

[...]

MALVEAUX: Developer Tony Rezko was Obama's friend and one of his top political contributors when Obama was an Illinois state senator.

MENDELL: He had gotten too close to this guy to see the problems that were swirling around him.

MALVEAUX: Obama wanted to buy a house in Chicago's exclusive Hyde Park neighborhood, but the seller was only willing to sell the house with the vacant lot next to it, and Obama couldn't afford to buy both. Rezko's wife bought the vacant lot, enabling Obama to buy his house at $300,000 below the asking price. It had the appearance of influence-buying. Rezko was later convicted of fraud, money laundering, and bribery -- charges unconnected to Obama.

OBAMA: But there's no allegations that I was involved with anything, that there was -- that any of his problems were related to me. I did show -- I did make a mistake in entering into a real estate with him that was completely separate from the topic of his trial, and I've said it was a mistake.

MENDELL: Obama's a guy who's generally a pretty good judge of character, I think, but in this instance, he was off.

MALVEAUX: Hoping to distance himself, Obama gave Rezko's political donations to charity.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Suzanne Malveaux
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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