President Obama vs Darrell Issa and David Freddoso: “Corruption” and “Slumlords?”

California Congressman Darrell  Issa (R-49) does not have a high opinion of the ethics of President Obama’s administration: he has called it “one of the most corrupt” of presidential administrations on several occasions. On Rush Limbaugh’s radio show he extended his “corruption” charge to include the president himself. Recently, he appears to have backed away from that allegation, focusing his ire on the administration as a whole. He paints a picture of a government clique passing the money around from friendly interest to friendly interest.

As an incoming committee chairman in a new congress with a muscular Republican majority he says he wants to cut waste and spending rather than prosecute. Force the pigs away from the trough if you will.  You can check it out here:

Of course, the Democrat Attack Machine will be in high gear: “Bush Did It! Bush Did it First, Bush Did it More!” There is, sadly, some truth in it. George W. Bush did spend too much, did expand government, did fight two unpopular wars and, as in any administration, there were rogues. President  Bush can honestly be faulted as a spendthrift and financial wastrel.  I also believe we all remember the Republican Dudley Do Wrongs in congress who made President Bushes’ problems worse.  Yes, Rep. Issa is partisan, the Republicans clubbed the Democrats like baby seals last November and it is pay back time in hallowed political tradition.  Yet I believe there is fire behind all the smoke.

There is something to Issa’s allegation about manifest corruption. Something that needs looking into. President Obama’s hands may not themselves be dirty, but apparently there are plenty of dirty hands around him.

And I don’t believe I am alone in thinking that.  David Freddoso  a political reporter for the National Review Online has titled his upcoming book , due March 21st,  “Gangster Government”  Freddoso already has one highly critical book about President Obama under his belt: “The Case Against Barack Obama”, which was published in summer 2008. Predictably, candidate Obama’s supporters labeled it a “smear” but more objective reviewers were kinder, if still lukewarm:

“Freddoso opts largely for a fact-based critique, and writes that the viral and overt smears have allowed Obama to evade substantive criticism.” As Ben Smith of Politico put it in an August,2008 review.

The first Freddoso book was based on a very unglamourous  argument: that Senator Obama was not a reformer of any kind but a machine politician and certainly no better than the average politician, a group whose behavior Freddoso, and most Americans, deplore . He puts Obama squarely in the average column. And average is a very low score. Freddoso’s account gives many plausible examples of ways in which a personally uninvolved President Obama can help his friends accomplish corrupt acts.

I recently took up the book again to refresh my memory regarding the presidents relation with Tony Rezko.  Rezko, the influence peddler and convicted no goodnik had a 15 year relationship with the president, a fact that seems not to have been noticed by the president’s supporters. Worse, Rezko was a slumlord in African-American neighborhoods and built his sub-standard housing with money legally obtained through the good offices of his good elected friend, our current president. The standard defense “Rezko was a bad apple” could be true – if it were only Rezko.

But apparently it isn’t. Freddoso says that at least four close advisors, fundraisers and donors are slumlords, including Valerie Jarrett, Rezko, Allison Davis and Cecil Butler. All four have built properties with money President Obama helped obtain and all four have had properties rated uninhabitable by authorities. And they are very good friends of President Obama’s:

Freddoso  quotes the Boston Globe:

“Campaign finance records show that six prominent developers including Jarrett, Davis and Rezko – collectively contributed more than $175,000 to Obama’s campaigns over the last decade and raised hundreds of thousands more from other donors.”   His source is a BG article published  6/27/2008 “Grim Proving Grounds for for Obama’s Housing Policy” by Binyamin Appelbaum.

The litany of housing abuses is long and includes scampering mice, boarded up developments, unheated buildings and neglected tenants.

But Freddoso is fair minded. He says on page 222 there is no reason to believe Obama approved of “outrageous” neglect. His staff told reporters he was “unaware” of how bad the condition was in the 11 buildings his friend Tony Rezko owned in his state senate district. He also says Obama may have been acting with the “best of intentions” when he “pushed”  legislation at the behest of the developers. However: “…we know for sure that Obama helped cut Rezko and other developers in on millions in taxpayer funds only to have them cash out and literally leave their tenants in the cold. The outrageous condition of Rezko’s buildings does not appear to have caused tension in their relationship.”

He then quotes the Globe article about his cozy relationship with developers who build substandard housing. Jarrett is still a close friend, his friend Rezko has been dropped since his legal problems began, and Allison Davis is an old boss of his. Davis and Jarrett are tied to the Grove Parc Plaza, about which Appelbaum wrote:

“Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100 point scale – a score so bad the buildings now face demolition.”

  Had John McCain merely ridden on the same bus as a slumlord, the resultant media explosion would have forced him to concede his nomination and suspend his campaign.  The allegation that a man who prides himself as being the first African-American president works closely with slumlords is bad enough. That he was more than casually social with Rezko and well beyond casually social with Davis and Jarrett should be troubling. That he helps get them the  millions they use to build slums is more than troubling. When they, in turn, are among his biggest supporters and gather hundreds of thousands of dollars for him one should begin to suspect corruption.  Almost three years ago Freddoso painted a picture of corruption by remote control – precisely the kind of picture Issa paints in some of the current video clips. A president who provides money for people with bad agendas.

Even if Freddoso’s account is hyperbolic and flawed it is certainly enough  for me to watch Rep. Issa’s upcoming hearings with rapt attention. And wait for other shoes to drop.


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