Saturday, December 23, 2006

UPDATED! More problems for Obama: Senator hired intern with ties to Tony Rezko

Most of the analyses of the controversial Rezko-Obama deal focus on one conclusion: Obama's reputation hasn't taken a major hit from the disclosure of the complicated real estate transactions. However, further revelations of shady deals with Rezko, the pundits agrees, could damage Obama's presidential hopes.

This Chicago Tribune story may not crack the Barack Obama aura, but it's bad news for the Illinois Democrat, who is currently six time zones away from Chicago visiting family in Hawaii.

From the Chicago "free registration required" Tribune:

Rezko recommended a 20-year-old student from Glenview for one of the coveted summer internships in Obama's Capitol Hill office.

The student got the job and spent five weeks in Washington, answering Obama's front office phone and logging constituent mail. The student was paid an $804 stipend--about $160 a week--for a position valued mostly for the experience it provides.


As the internship drew to a close in August 2005, the intern's father was cited in court records as an unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged state government bribery scheme linked to Rezko. A news report about the court records identified him by name.

Obama's spokesman said Obama would not comment on the internship because he is spending the holidays with his family. But spokesman Robert Gibbs said the internship in no way contradicts Obama's previous statements that he has never done any favors for Rezko, given jobs to Rezko associates or been involved with Rezko "in any government activities of any sort."

The father of the intern is Joseph Aramanda, who, according to the Chicago Sun-Times in October, was implicated as an individual "D" in Rezko's indictment.

From the October 12 Chicago Sun-Times:

C. Sheldon Pekin: Consultant who allegedly agreed to kick back $250,000 in fees in return for getting TRS business.

D. Joseph Aramanda: Rezko associate who allegedly got $250,000 from Pekin "in substantial part for the benefit of Rezko."

UPDATE 5:30PM CST: The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Aramanda has contributed $11,500 to Obama's campaigns since 2000. Also, in the same article, the Sun-Times notes that since 1990, indicted fundraiser Tony Rezko has raised as much as $60,000 for various Obama campaigns. Rezko wrote checks for $11,500 to Obama's senate campaign, that money was donated to charity.

Related posts: More Obama and Rezko

Obama watch: More Tony Rezko

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