Despite reporting to the contrary, Wash. Times claimed Obama received "a discount" on his house

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

A Washington Times article asserted that Sen. Barack Obama "received a discount for purchasing [his] home, and Mr. [Antoin] Rezko bought the lot next door." The article did not cite any evidence that Obama "received a discount," and Bloomberg News has reported 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 bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller."

In a March 3 Washington Times article about Sen. Barack Obama and Chicago businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko, national political reporter Christina Bellantoni asserted that the Obama campaign "told reporters last month that the senator toured his South Side home in 2005 with Mr. Rezko, who was his friend at the time. Mr. Obama received a discount for purchasing the home, and Mr. Rezko bought the lot next door." Bellantoni did not cite any evidence that Obama "received a discount," and, according to a February 18 Bloomberg News article, "[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."

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 3 Washington Times article:

Mr. [Obama campaign adviser David] Axelrod said 255 news stories, including an Associated Press analysis, about the Rezko-Obama connection have been released, and "there has been not one bit of evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Senator Obama in this or any other matter."

"All these questions have been asked. All these questions have been answered," he said, accusing Mr. [Howard] Wolfson [Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign communications director] of turning the dialogue negative in an attempt to salvage the campaign of the senator from New York.

The Obama campaign has not been as forthcoming with information as Mr. Axelrod suggested. The campaign told reporters last month that the senator toured his South Side home in 2005 with Mr. Rezko, who was his friend at the time. Mr. Obama received a discount for purchasing the home, and Mr. Rezko bought the lot next door.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the two men "entered a series of personal financial arrangements to redivide and improve the lots."

Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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