CNN's Susan Roesgen repeated the assertion that Sen. Barack Obama purchased “a piece of property” “at a very discounted price.” In fact, the people from whom Obama bought his house reportedly said that his was “the best offer.”
During the March 6 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, correspondent Susan Roesgen repeated the assertion -- reportedly refuted by the sellers -- that Sen. Barack Obama purchased “a piece of property” “at a very discounted price.” In fact, according to a February 18 Bloomberg News article, the people from whom Obama bought his house said that his was “the best offer.” The sellers also said, in the words of Bloomberg reporter Timothy J. Burger, “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 Obamas subsequently bought a part of the adjacent property, which had been purchased on the same day as the Obamas' house by the wife of Obama contributor Antoin “Tony” Rezko. The Washington Post reported on December 17, 2006, that an Obama spokesman said the strip of land Obama purchased from Rezko's wife had been appraised at $40,500, “but Obama considered it fair to pay one-sixth of the original price for one-sixth of the lot.”
The Chicago Tribune first reported on the purchase of the adjacent properties by the Obamas and Rezko's wife on November 1, 2006. The Tribune reported that the owner of the house and the adjacent lot listed them as separate properties and that Obama paid $1.65 million for the house -- $300,000 less than the asking price -- while Rezko's wife paid the asking price of $625,000 for the lot. 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.
From the March 6 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: On our political ticker this Thursday, the trial of a businessman and political fundraiser under way in Chicago. Tony Rezko -- he's on trial for allegedly using his clout to get millions from companies wanting to do business with two state boards. But it's his fundraising connection to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that's turning the spotlight on this trial.
Let's go to Susan Roesgen; she's watching it all unfold in Chicago. I take it sen -- the senator's name came up today. What happened?
ROESGEN: Well, what happened was the prosecution, the federal prosecution did not mention Senator Obama's name because he is not in any way implicated in this case against Tony Rezko. But the defense, Wolf, did bring up Obama's name in a positive light, as a successful politician that Tony Rezko supports. Now, Senator Obama's name was mentioned only in passing, but it is likely to come up again in this trial because Obama did receive $150,000 in a campaign contribution from Tony Rezko -- a contribution that his campaign later gave away to charity.
Obama did do some legal work for Tony Rezko on a low-income housing project. And Obama as well did buy a piece of property that Rezko helped him get at a very discounted price. Now, again, none of those things is in any way illegal on Senator Obama's part, and yet, just the mention of his name at this trial, just like that picture of Senator Obama embracing Tony Rezko, is likely to make the Obama campaign wince every time it comes up -- Wolf.