UPDATED 3/16/2008: Includes portions of the Chicago Tribune/Sun-Times interviews from 3/13/2008
Q: Senator, when did you first meet Tony Rezko? How did you become friends? How often would you meet with him, and when did you last speak with him?
A: I had attracted some media attention when I was elected the first black President of the Harvard Law Review. And while I was in law school, David Brint, who was a development partner with Tony Rezko contacted me and asked whether I would be interested in being a developer. Ultimately, after discussions in which I met Mr. Rezko, I said no.
I have probably had lunch with Rezko once or twice a year and our spouses may have gotten together on two to four occasions in the time that I have known him. I last spoke with Tony Rezko more than six months ago.
Obama then took a job with Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, now just Miner, Barnhill, & Galland. The firm concentrates on employment discrimination, civil and voting rights, antitrust, consumer litigation, and housing development. The firm has been engaged in a many cases including representing African American voters interests in redistricting, it was an early prominent plaintiff firm for sexual harassment claims, and dealt with a lot of housing development for non-profit developers.
Expansion on the statement from the Tribune interview:
I first met Tony Rezko when I was still at law school, or at least I had just graduated from law school. He had two partners, a guy named Dan Mahru and David Brint. They had started a real estate company called Rezmar. They contacted me while I was the president of the Harvard Law Review and asked if I was coming back to Chicago and was thinking about future employment, would I be interested in potentially getting involved in development.
And so when I was back in Chicago, and I don’t recall whether it was during the summer between, you know, my second and third year [in law school], or whether it was after I had graduated, or whether it was just visiting Michelle, I met with them.
They were, didn’t talk to me about a specific job but explained what they were doing in terms of development. Because I had been a community organizer, I think that’s what part of what prompted their interest because they were doing a lot of affordable housing work and work with community development corporations.
I had a relatively brief conversation, maybe 45 minutes, and ultimately declined to go into development, but that was the first time I met Tony Rezko.
Fast-forward a little bit, I did not have a lot of interactions with Tony at that point. I was working as an associate at a law firm. There may have been interactions with my law firm and some of the development partners of Rezmar because they would often partner with not-for-profits and we had a small transactional practice in the law firm that specialized in representing not-for-profits—you know, church-based organizations that were doing community development.
I don’t recall exactly how many times at that point I had met Tony Rezko, but I don’t think at that point I would have considered him a friend. He was an acquaintance.
I first met Tony Rezko when I was either still in law school or had just graduated from law school. I don‚t recall whether his office contacted me right before I graduated or when I was still in law school and visiting Chicago. He and his two partners had just formed Rezmar. They had read about me as president of Harvard law review, had read that I was interested in community development work because of my background as a community organizer and contacted me saying would I be interested in talking about working in development. I was in Chicago for other reasons and met with them for about 45 minutes. Their partners Dan Mahru and at the time, a guy named David Brint. Had a nice conversation with them. They explained what they were doing. They were involved in a lot of affordable housing work around some of the areas where I‚ been an organizer and decided that I wasn’t interested in pursuing development. So the conversation really never went anywhere. But that’s the first time I met Tony.