Hannity scrambled facts to baselessly speculate about Obama-Rezko "quid pro quo"
Research ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG
On Hannity's America, Sean Hannity repeated the baseless claim that "the Obamas pa[id] $300,000 below market value" for their house. Additionally, after recounting that the Obamas purchased land from the adjacent lot owned by Antoin Rezko, Hannity asserted: "And then, as state senator, he helped funnel money to these housing projects that Tony Rezko and other friends were working on." In fact, Obama's letter in support of a Rezko housing project was written seven years before the Obamas purchased their home, and both parties have reportedly said that Rezko did not solicit the letter.
During the December 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, host Sean Hannity again repeated the baseless claim that "the Obamas pa[id] $300,000 below market value" for their house. Additionally, after recounting that President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, purchased a strip of land from the adjacent lot owned by convicted Chicago businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko, Hannity said to Rove: "And then, as state senator, he helped funnel money to these housing projects that Tony Rezko and other friends were working on, most of which didn't work out in the end. But does it seem now like it's a quid pro quo, and do you think people will now revisit this?" In fact, Obama's letter in support of a Rezko housing project was written in 1998 -- seven years before the Obamas purchased their home in 2005, not afterward as Hannity asserted -- and both parties have reportedly said that Rezko did not solicit the letter.
In response to Hannity's assertion that "[t]he Rezkos pay full price. The Obamas pay $300,000 below market value," Rove stated: "Well, and look, I'm not sure it was below -- below market price. It was below asking price." Indeed, Bloomberg News reported in February that "[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 [Rezko's wife, Rita Rezko] bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller." Rove had himself baselessly claimed in August that the Obamas had bought their house "for cheaper than the market price."
Contrary to Hannity's claim that Rezko sold Obama the land "[a]nd then" Obama supported Rezko's housing project, Obama wrote the letter in support of Rezko's housing project on October 28, 1998 -- well before Obama purchased his house in 2005. Moreover, Obama and Rezko attorney Joseph Duffy have reportedly said that Rezko did not ask Obama to write the letter, which was sent to officials at the Illinois Department of Housing and Illinois Housing Development Authority. In a March interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama said of the letter that Rezko "did not solicit that from me. ... This was one of many form letters, or letters of recommendation we would send out constantly for all sorts of projects. And my understanding is that our letter was just one of many. And I wasn't a decision maker in any of this process." In a June 13, 2007, article, the Sun-Times reported: "Asked about the Obama letters, Rezko's attorney, Joseph Duffy, said Tuesday, 'Mr. Rezko never spoke with, nor sought a letter from, Senator Obama in connection with that project.' "
From the December 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America:
HANNITY: Well, you know, Rezko, Wright, Ayers, Dohrn, Pfleger -- you know, some people criticize me and said, all right, well maybe I'm spending too much time and focus on this. Now Blagojevich -- we have the governor -- all friends of Barack Obama. Maybe -- did the American people maybe just ignore --
HANNITY: -- or were too willing maybe -- maybe buy into the bumper stickers and the rhetoric and ignore what the Chicago way really meant?
ROVE: Yeah. Yeah.
HANNITY: And -- and I would focus in on the Rezko deal. I think that was --
ROVE: Well, you're right, you're right. You know, this -- here's the complaint. And if I were Barack Obama, what I'd be worried about is is that Rezko is throughout this whole thing. Rezko is key to Blagojevich, and we now know Rezko was important to Obama's political success as well, that he was the -- you know, there was a big whiteboard inside the Obama for United States Senate headquarters that listed the big fundraisers each week. And virtually every week, the name that was written on that board was Tony Rezko.
HANNITY: Well, and let's just remind our audience -- and we did our first examination right here on Hannity's America as it relates to the Rezko deal. Just to give a quick summary: We've got two properties bought on the same day -- one by the Obamas, one by the Rezkos.
ROVE: Adjoining properties.
HANNITY: Adjacent properties. The Rezkos pay full price. The Obamas pay $300,000 below market value. Over a period of time -- now the Rezko land was an -- was an adjacent lot, the Obamas had a house on their lot -- but at some point Rezko sells a part of the lot, which rendered it unbuildable, to the Obamas so they'd have more property. Now what -- where it gets a little fuzzy here is why would you -- you give up all of the value if you can't build on it. And then, as state senator, he helped funnel money to these housing projects that Tony Rezko and other friends were working on, most of which didn't work out in the end. But does it seem now like it's a quid pro quo, and do you think people will now revisit this?
ROVE: Well, and look, I'm not sure it was below -- below market price. It was below asking price. But they clearly -- one paid full price, and one didn't.