On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris again suggested that Sen. Barack Obama and his wife got a discount on the price of their house and botched several basic facts of the real estate transaction. Morris suggested that “Obama got $300,000 off market price” of the house because former Obama contributor Tony Rezko “pa[id] the full market price” for an adjacent property -- an assertion that has been refuted by both Obama and the seller.
Contrary to documentation and reported facts, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris once again suggested that Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, got a discount on the price of their house and, in the process, botched the basic facts of the transaction. Morris has repeatedly distorted the facts surrounding the Obamas' purchase of their home, as Media Matters for America has documented.
During a segment on the June 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Morris asserted that "[Chicago businessman and former Obama contributor Antoin “Tony” ] Rezko paid full market price for his land. Obama got 300,000 off market price for his land. How do we know that that 300,000 off that Obama got was not paid for by Rezko paying the full market price?" But Morris' suggestion that “Obama got 300,000 off market price” of the house because Rezko “pa[id] the full market price” for an adjacent property has been refuted by Obama and the seller. Documents available on the Obama campaign's website indicate that the original asking price of the house was $1.95 million and that the Obamas paid $1.65 million. According to a February 18 Bloomberg News 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.”
On November 1, 2006, the Chicago Tribune first reported on the purchase of the house by the Obamas and the adjacent property by Rezko's wife. 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.
Later in the segment, Morris got wrong several basic facts of the real estate transaction, claiming: "[W]hen they originally purchased the land, Rezko paid something like 1.3 [million dollars], which was the asking price, and Obama paid something like 600 [thousand dollars], whereas the asking price was 900 [thousand dollars]. Why was the same man selling the properties willing to discount the Obama portion? And why was Rezko not asking for a discount on his portion?" In fact, Rezko's wife paid the asking price of $625,000 (not $1.3 million, as Morris claimed) for the adjacent lot, and Obama paid $1.65 million (not $600,000) for his property -- $300,000 less than the original asking price of $1.95 million (not $900,000).
From the June 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
MORRIS: In your previous segment with Buchanan, you talked about Rezko. And I think that everybody here missed the point about Rezko. There were two parcels of land. Rezko bought one and Obama bought the other.
SEAN HANNITY (co-host): Same day.
MORRIS: Same day.
HANNITY: His wife did.
MORRIS: Adjoining parcels. Rezko paid full market price for his land. Obama got 300,000 off market price for his land. How do we know that that 300,000 off that Obama got was not paid for by Rezko paying the full market price?
ALAN COLMES (co-host): [unintelligible] you have no proof of that, number one. And number two --
MORRIS: No, the facts --
COLMES: You're always looking at him, aren't you?
MORRIS: -- the fact are exactly --
COLMES: He got a sixth of --
MORRIS: The facts are exactly as I said.
COLMES: -- that slice of land that Rezko bought, as far as I understand it.
MORRIS: No, that's a separate deal.
COLMES: And paid a sixth of the price.
MORRIS: That's a separate deal. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about when they originally purchased the land, Rezko paid something like 1.3, which was the asking price, and Obama paid something like 600, whereas the asking price was 900. Why was the same man selling the properties willing to discount the Obama portion? And why was Rezko not asking for a discount on his portion?
COLMES: But why are you presuming that some kind of a nefarious deal took place without any proof?
MORRIS: Because on -- the same purchaser to the same two sellers on the same day, with adjacent parcels, and one of them is at full market price and the other one is discounted?
COLMES: And I don't know the difference between the land. Maybe there's some reason for that. I don't -- I don't know why. Let me get back to some of the issues McCain has.