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Obama Vows to Return All Rezko Funds

By Matthew Mosk
Sen. Barack Obama today vowed to return all of the contributions raised with help from his embattled early supporter, Chicago developer Tony Rezko.

The commitment, made during an appearance on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," puts new pressure on the Illinois senator to determine exactly how much Rezko has raised for his various political campaigns. Recent published reports suggest that while Obama has returned some of the money, he has continued to hang on to a considerable amount.

"What we've done is we've traced any funds that we know of that we think were connected to him, and if there are other funds that were connected to him that we're not aware of, then we will certainly return them. It's in our interest to do so," Obama said.

Obama's campaign aides said the candidate has already returned $85,000 in Rezko-related campaign contributions, dating back to his U.S. Senate bid.

Recent reviews by ABC News and by the Los Angeles Times found additional contributions from Rezko's relatives and from consultants and lawyers who did work for him. The L.A. Times estimated Rezko affiliates provided Obama more than $200,000 in donations since 1995.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said he believes those reviews "cast too wide a net," capturing contributions from people who had only glancing contact with Rezko, and who were already strong supporters of Obama in their own right.

That said, Burton said the campaign was "constantly reviewing our contributions" and anticipated that "a more fulsome look at them should be done by the time [the Clintons] release the additional library records they've said they would -- by the end of the month."

By Post Editor  |  January 27, 2008; 3:55 PM ET
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The HillCamp were itching to get this out from the beginning. They hinted we have something really bad about Obama. But when Obama asked them to spill it out, they backtracked. Maybe Bill thought they could use it at a more juicy time to embarass Obama.

The funny thing is Hillary calling Obama's dealing with Rezko, while her own right hand man Norman Hsu is serving time in prison. Obama never made any use of the Narman Hsu fiasco against Hillary. But the HillCamp is bad to the bones. They thrive on slime and sleeze.

Posted by: ChunkyMonkey1 | January 28, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

So does this mean Obama is going to return his house, since Rezko made it possible for the good senator to purchase it.

Posted by: decodenny | January 28, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

What Obama should "vow" is to be CONSISTENT in his opposition to the Iraq war. Hypothetically, if you were really against this war from the start, and you were also a U.S. Senator, I would assume you would have voted against the initial authorization, right? That's the GOLD STANDARD that Obama is holding Hillary Clinton to.

But, keep in mind that you would never have missed a single vote against said war either, even if "it didn't matter to the final vote count", right? You would stand on your principles, right? As for the subsequent funding issue that Obama switches positions on, it's still INCONSISTENT to vote for war funding -- if Bush refused to bring home the troops, then do everything in your power to get him impeached and thrown out of office -- that's what I would have done if I were a U.S. Senator and against this war from the start.

I, however, am not a U.S. Senator and against this war -- Barack Obama is.

Posted by: JakeD | January 28, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

In regards to Obama's association with Rezko the difference is, although any candidate can at times take money from someone who turns out to be bad, in this case Obama didn't just take money innocently from a known criminal, he did business deals with him behind the scenes too. The major difference is too, Obama was not honest to the people during the SC debates about his long standing and lop sided real estate deals with Mr Rezko. He did in fact alot more than 5 hours work with Rezko. Taking a donation is one thing, doing business with a known corrupt business partner is quite another..

Posted by: Hillary08 | January 28, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Just a little "Chicago-Style" politics nothing to worry about.

Posted by: sam51 | January 28, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

With all due respect for Mr. Obama and the campaign he has run I'd have to agree he has alot of good things to say, who can argue with that? but the major difference is, Obama has nothing really but his words so far, what has he actually accomplished? nothing much in his 2 very short years in the Senate. He skipped on 130 Senate votes, no one does that and gets things done, seriously. Change happens when you TAKE ACTION and sitting back and not voting 130 times, is not taking action. You know I have nothing against Obama's ideas, but Hillary and Edwards both have alot more to back up their promises. One step at a time, I think Obama is an impulsive choice and the wrong choice for what America needs right now. Change is great! of course it is, we ALL want change and no one wants it and can make that change happen more effectively for what we all need to restore America right away quite like Hillary Clinton starting on her first day in office. Hillary has my vote and support all the way and John Edwards is my second choice. I wish Edwards would be Hillary's running mate in fact, those two would be just awesome together. I would consider Obama another time but he is way too young, untested and inexperienced still for what we need done now. Do the right thing and vote for what we KNOW will work at a time in America's history when we cannot afford to lose another another child, another job, another business, another family, another home, another day. Hillary already knows exactly what to do and how to do it, you cannot just promise that or say 'yes you can' make change, it takes hard work. You have to actually have the skills and know how to get it done like Hillary absolutely does. Bottom line, you don't hire an amateur to do a professional job. Vote for Hillary for real serious, immediate change, she is the sure thing and she will not let us down.

Hillary All the Way!!!!!!

Posted by: Hillary08 | January 28, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

so if obama deemed rezco to be so fishy, why take them at all? and why not return all now instead of reacting to efforts by the media to dig up other rezco connected contributions?

this entire scandal reeks. obama knows it and big media knows it but is waiting for the best time to come out with a detailed exposé. there is plenty of material now that can be used against obama. i love that obama is passing this rezco guy as a fleeting romance when it was way more intimate.

like his mansion in chicago. michelle obama's huge salary. obama's political career. slum tenements in obama's districts. poor black residents living in decrepit, heatless apartments. bankruptcy. bribes. etc etc etc

Posted by: mikel1 | January 28, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Does the return include the home Rezko helped Obama "negotiate" and that extra strip on land he got for 1/3 it's value?

Posted by: newagent99 | January 28, 2008 7:39 AM | Report abuse

I am weighing in only to correct some of the blatant inaccuracies in the above posts:

First of all, the attacks on the embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi took place August 7, 1998, not in 1989. And it wasn't just Africans who perished in those heinous attacks but Americans.

And I won't even begin to address jwholtkamp's idiocy except to say the United States has something like 300 million citizens, not 700 million! And to add that a stupid statement like the one which paints the US as a "disintegrating country" deserves no answer.

And the racist rants are beneath any thinking and compassionate person. Really, we are much better than that. I hope the KKK minded weasels go back into their holes where they belong.

Posted by: embilem | January 28, 2008 3:40 AM | Report abuse

Oh come on!!!! This is news? Has anyone taken a hard look at campaign contributions to other candidates? I am sure we will find some questionable donations in every coffer, like, for instance, Charlie Trie's infamous contributions to Bill Clinton's campaign war chest.

Posted by: embilem | January 28, 2008 3:25 AM | Report abuse

So, basically, Obama comes on tv and says he'll return ALL of the dirty money after all of the heat he's beginning to take for it in the press finally, and then his aide says afterward, "well, we'll return all of it WE deem necessary." meaning no more than they already have. Typical doublespeak from a despicable CORRUPT piece of sh*t like Obama.

Posted by: hotnuke2008 | January 27, 2008 04:07 PM


And the media lets him get away with it!

We don't need another Jimmy Carter.
Vote 4 Hillary or vote 4 a Republican.

Anyone, but Obama!

Posted by: Spiffy2 | January 28, 2008 2:26 AM | Report abuse

to hotnuke2008: The time you took to edit and publish your article, India and China together produced a thousand new automobiles that retails for 1500 dollars or 1700 euros. Because of the western hemisphere protectionism these automobiles retails her and in the u.s. for the triple amount. My point is that times are changed my friend !!

Posted by: jwholtkamp | January 28, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

to colicious
Let me get this right, you are blaming blacks for racial hatred, and implying they shouldn't be so upset about slavery. Did someone drop you on your head when you were little?

Posted by: eehill | January 28, 2008 12:34 AM | Report abuse

to jej:
A people that allows to let happen a thing like 9/11 is definitely in deep trouble. Now 7 years later your problems of that time are not solved, no the got worse in spite of all the killin and torture you committed. Because of this so called Christian behavior, you lost a lot of money and gained a lot of agony worldwide. Now, that we see your real Yankee faces, we feel ashamed of being allies. It is right that justice takes its path and don't let you come even near to a leadership in this battered and slumped America in spite of the measures taken by the Bush-gang like trampling the American constitution and its amendments. With a change in the white house, several hundred thousand officials need to be indicted in order to get America back on track, if ever it will gets back on track, which I doubt. Because America floats on oil. No oil, no America. With the use of every 9 barrels of oil only 1 new one is discovered. That means that in the foreseeable future oil will run out, which means that America will stop existing in the way it does exist now. There is no reason to believe that any GOP candidate will be able to give direction to a disintegrating running out of oil country like America is now. So new blood is badly needed to give 700 million people a lead to some sort of hope and future in a beautiful country like America. I just described the reasons why you're quarreling over Iraq and why you're about to lose the presidential race.

Posted by: jwholtkamp | January 28, 2008 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Big time problem, Obama is a crook, end of story. Not that Clinton is any better so I will most likely vote Rep.this term.

Would have choose Edwards but his chances of winning are nil.

At this present time, I don't beleive for one second that if a black person got in the White House as President that he/she would not favor the black culture.

Generation after generation they continue to keep alive and well a "deep-seated hatred for whites."Blacks still blame whites for slavery and almost all their woes.

Posted by: colicious | January 27, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

This is a complete non-story and there's no reason he should return any money. He needs the money to fight for Change and to fight against corruption. He should just come right out and say, "look, I'm from Chicago, and I'm a Chicago politician, if you know what I mean. That's how we do things there. A little of this, a little of that, know what I mean?"

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | January 27, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Since he could not have bought his house without Rezko's back-door financing, why doesn't he sell the house and give the profit to charity as well. What's that? Of course he won't sell the house because he wants it too badly, which is why he entered the deal in the first place "against his better judgement." Please!! He knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it. And that is not to even mention the strip of land he later acquired from Rezko.

Posted by: Bootenany | January 27, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

To commenter jej I would like to thank you for expressing the sentiments I feel exactly so much better than I ever could. It appears the media has pre-decided that Obama will be the candidate and rather than giving people fair coverage of both, continually cling to their anti-Clinton message. Obama's message so far has sounded like a replay of George Bush in 2001. The frenzy on TV today hailing the rising star with no worries about telling us what he stands for or any of his background, has led me to turn off and listen to my favorite CDs. This pre-coronation by TV and papers is over the top and totally disrespectful to the people they are supposed to be keeping informed not just titillated with gossip and innuendo and mischaracterizations of what exactly has been going on in the race thus far.

Posted by: justmyvoice | January 27, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I have really changed my mind on Obama. He is slicker than Willie. He needed to be blacker to win in SC. Wow did he do it, with lots of help from the media. Not only that , he got the Clintons blamed for making him blacker, again with his doting media's help. Slick.

Posted by: bnw173 | January 27, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Whether this get posted or not, I think we should tackle the right issues when it come to the Clintons.
August 1989:
The Clintons were in power when American Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania all in Africa got attack by Osama Bin Laden. Information was sent to the White House, and nothing was done other than a speech of condolences for the victim's families in Africa. It was just the Africans - Who care. This was the message that was received in Africa.
We all thought the Americans will back us because of the information that we gave them - Osama was in the hide outs (Libya). We later found out from source closer to presidents of those African countries that were attacked that, the US have contacted the Saud ices and received Millions of Dollars that were ship to some Swiss Banks. The Swiss government is refusing to address this situation or conspiracy.
Africans have this adage: "the rain that falls on my house and cause destruction will soon drift to your house." This is what happened on Sep 11Th, when US was attack right at home. Had it been the Clintons had taken out Osama, 3000 US citizens would not have died. Who then, should we point fingers at - The CLINTONS. They knew all the plots of Osama from briefings by the CIA and FBI but because they had taken money from the Saud ices, they wouldn't pursue the safety of 3000 US citizens.
Call this a verbose claim, they video is available when US intelligent saw Osama getting into a bucker for their usual meeting after they had attacked the US embassies. Despite a call to the White House, THE CLINTONS WILL NOT APPROVE THE KILLING OF OSAMA.

So, all we are asking is to tell the truth about what happen before 9/11.

Sending the Clintons to the White is not something that we cannot let it happen.

To those who intend to vote for the Clintons, bare this in mind:


Watch this for yourself and ask why the Clintons did not kill Osama.

They had already taken money from the Saudices

Posted by: ordgobaltc | January 27, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

In my previous contest I talked about Obama's statement about Reagan as being that one about the GOP. In the theme of mean-spirited new media obsessiveness I will address the issue of his Reagan quote. He was not praising Reaganism as opposed to the broadness of his appeal and themes (enterprise) that were an important aspect of his appeal. This too is something that makes Obama's rhetorical inclusiveness more sincere than Bush's.

Posted by: MoralPanicker1 | January 27, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I am glad he has promised to return all donations which trace back to rezko - though I thought it was clear from the start he would - after all he has been completely transparent and forthcoming on campaign funding - and even though it sounds like a lot of money - it is nothing compared to what the clintons get from insurance and oil companies - not to mention their own fraudulent fundraiser - Hsu - $800,000+. Anyway maybe we can move past this and let Obama get on with getting his message out and becoming the next great president of the US. So happy Caroline Kennedy - and now maybe Ted are endorsing him.

Posted by: maggiesimpson | January 27, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I am glad he has promised to return all donations which trace back to rezko - though I thought it was clear from the start he would - after all he has been completely transparent and forthcoming on campaign funding - and even though it sounds like a lot of money - it is nothing compared to what the clintons get from insurance and oil companies - not to mention their own fraudulent fundraiser - Hsu - $800,000+. Anyway maybe we can move past this and let Obama get on with getting his message out and becoming the next great president of the US. So happy Caroline Kennedy - and now maybe Ted are endorsing him.

Posted by: maggiesimpson | January 27, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse










Posted by: laplumelefirmament | January 27, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

To the trolls (but everyone is entitled to his or her own political preferences):
1. Obama has more elected experience than Clinton and Edwards. His lack of accomplishment on the national level is not really relevant (excepting valuable disclosure laws). He knows how to represent and serve his consituents like Lincoln did.
2. There is no offical accusation of racism against Obama opponents. YEs, it did get carried away informally.
3. There was no specific praise of Reaganism as opposed to the faintest praise for Reagan and the presence of ideas in his circle (as opposed to the ideas themselves).
4. Those nice words about Reagan are part of his rhetorical inclusiveness, which is an important part of leadership.
5. The Rezko funds did not give Rezko special and inappropriate access to Obama.
6. Not every dollar from someone "connected" to Rezko (worked for him, related to him) is a fund that itself is connected to Rezko.
7. Obama ran for Congress after time in the state legislature where he did important work in criminal justice and health-care.
8. Present votes seem to be a common procedure in the Illinois state legislature.
9. As far as competence goes, I am not sure the occasions in which incompetence has been attributed to the Bush administration have to do with his personality and lack of experience as opposed to an ideology in which disdain for the effectiveness of government plays a large role.
10. Clinton on OBama and Iraq: NOnsense. It is about the judgment to avoid certain decisions.
11. Clinton on MI, FL, NV: Nonsense. Messing with the expectations created by previous AGREEMENTS.
12. Clinton on MLK: Certainly not racist, but certainly ahistorical.

Posted by: MoralPanicker1 | January 27, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

This is a non-story, just as Hsu's $850,000 contributions to Hillary Clinton turned out to be a non-story. A candidate cannot possibly vet every donation or bundler that comes there way.

Posted by: nate | January 27, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

All of the so-called "race-baiting," which has really centered on Obama's experience and readiness for office, now makes it impossible for a "white" person to question Obama's fitness for the highest office in the land. If you are a white male who votes for Edwards or Clinton, it is implied by Chris Matthews and others constructors of the zeitgeist, you're a racist.

It's a neat trick that Obama's staff--key members of which are former Clintonites who know how to press the former President and the Senator's hot buttons--has orchestrated in order to make it exceedingly difficult to challenge Obama's bona fides for political office.

From my perspective, Obama has done nothing but run for office since attaining majority. There was the failed attempt at unseating a Chicago congressman after a few years of "community activism" aimed at making him a viable political candidate as he shaped his personal narrative.

Is there anyone who thinks he did not disarm his former drug use in anticipation of this moment? (And who in that generation did not do some kind of drug? Nowadays they come to class on prescribed pharmaceuticals.) Likewise, his reliance on his "white mother from Kansas"--repeated like a mantra by his surrogates--seems aimed to make him more appealing to white voters. But, we're told by his campaign and his naive enthusiasts: "race doesn't matter."

The next step in his brilliant career was a campaign for the Illinois State Senate where he stayed a few years and managed to sidestep quite a number of difficult votes (130 in all) that might have proven political liabilities as he climbed the ladder of politics.

Then Obama gave that marvelous speech in 2004 that many regarded as Kennedy-esque. A key difference between Kennedy and Obama is that the former was tempered by the experience of war--let's not forget his heroism with the PT 109--and a number of years as a US Congressman and then Senator. He was even a potential candidate for Vice President in 1956--four years before he won the top nomination in 1960.

After Obama's rise to the national stage in 2004, he began almost immediately raising money to run for the Presidency. Did he actually serve more than a year? Eighteen months? What are his notable accomplishments as Senator?

Sadly, race does matter or the media would not use it as a way of excoriating its favorite hobby horse: the fiery tempered ex-President who doesn't know the meaning of "quit." But the media loves a good fight--it creates a narrative, a soap opera that keeps eyes glued to screens, pages and blogs such as this one.

Some say that Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton have few differences, but one need only look at his pandering to the editorial board of a conservative paper in Nevada--I saw the video--when he spoke positively of the ideas of Reagan and the Reagan Republicans while denigrating the accomplishments of President Clinton. (Speaking of experience: Clinton served 12 years as Governor before running for President.)

As someone who remembers the Reagan Revolution quite well, I must say that all I remember about Reagan, Bush and Bush II is that there was little prosperity for the middle and working classes--and a lot of dead American soldiers and Marines. Under Clinton there was peace and prosperity. You could look it up, but I'm not sure what you'll see with stars in your eyes.

Check out the depth of his plans and you'll find that they are of the sitting-around-the-table-talking-it-out variety. I don't think we need therapy as much as we need action. How's that going to happen? No, I mean, specifically.

It seems as though, in fact, that we are replaying 2000 now with Obama in the George Bush role and Clinton in the Al Gore role. A close examination of the way Obama tacks his political rhetoric--and oratorical style--to whatever audience he meets is reminiscent of George Bush's "compassionate conservatism" and claims to be a "uniter, not a divider" (even as he assured his base that he was one of them: "wink, wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean"). (With apologies to Monty Python.)

We have elected an inexperienced politican to the Presidency before in 2000 and it looks as though--partly because he is a charming orator--we're about to do it again.

The Republicans are salivating over Barack Obama as their possible adversary: his lack of experience--and not just on national security and internatinal affairs--will be exploited to maximum effect.

I've seen this movie before and I know how it ends: not well.

In 2000 and 2004, I voted for the guy with the most impressive experience--that's just how I roll. In 2008, it looks like I'll have to cross party lines and vote (shudder) Republican. If the Democrats turn their backs on experience I think it will be the end of the Party for a generation--and, ironically, the media will ultimately find a way to blame Obama. (But not before Chris Matthews acuses white men of racism--for not voting for the least experienced politican since the current President Bush.) As in the runup to the Iraq War, the media will catch on too late. They will have had, however good ratings for political coverage as they sell another rip-snorting good story to the American people. God help us. Really. Please, God.

Posted by: jej | January 27, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

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