One of the hundreds of interns Obama hired was tied to a Rezko partner and that man was identified as having been directed to donate money to Obama’s US Senate campaign:
John Aramanda served as an intern for Obama for about a month in 2005, said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs. His father is Joseph Aramanda, a Rezko business associate who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal corruption case against Rezko. Aramanda has contributed $11,500 to Obama since 2000, Gibbs said.
“Mr. Rezko did provide a recommendation for John Aramanda,” Gibbs said. “I think that it’s fairly obvious that a few-week internship is not anything of benefit to Mr. Rezko or any of his businesses.”
The internship revelation comes after Obama acknowledged he erred in buying property from Rezko in January. The transaction took place when it was widely known Rezko was under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office.
Thus far, there is little in the public record to suggest otherwise, and the few exceptions that have come to light appear minor. On Capitol Hill, Obama once gave a summer internship to the son of a Rezko business associate on Rezko’s recommendation. Earlier, as a state senator, Obama was one of several South Side political and community leaders who wrote state and city officials urging approval of public funding for a senior housing project involving Rezko.
But when Rezko pushed for passage in Springfield of a major gambling measure, Obama vocally opposed it.
Obama publicly apologized for his 2005 property deal with Rezko, calling it “boneheaded” because Rezko was widely reported to be under grand jury investigation at the time. And Obama has given to charities $85,000 in Rezko-linked campaign contributions, including $40,035 last weekend following a published report suggesting that Rezko funneled a $10,000 donation to Obama through a business associate. Aides to Obama say the senator had no knowledge of any such scheme.
The Illinois senator isn’t accused of any wrongdoing. And there’s no evidence Obama knew contributions to his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign came from schemes Rezko is accused of orchestrating.
The allegations against Rezko that involve Obama are contained in one paragraph of a 78-page document filed last month in which prosecutors outline their corruption and fraud case against Rezko, who was also a key money man for Gov. Blagojevich and other politicians.
Rezko is set to go to trial Feb. 25. The revelation that Obama’s name could come up in court is a political headache he doesn’t need as he heads into a round of primaries that are likely to determine his party’s nomination for president.
Obama is not named in the Dec. 21 court document. But a source familiar with the case confirmed that Obama is the unnamed “political candidate” referred to in a section of the document that accuses Rezko of orchestrating a scheme in which a firm hired to handle state teacher pension investments first had to pay $250,000 in “sham” finder’s fees. From that money, $10,000 was donated to Obama’s successful run for the Senate in the name of a Rezko business associate, according to the court filing and the source.
Rezko, who was part of Obama’s senatorial finance committee, also is accused of directing “at least one other individual” to donate money to Obama and then reimbursing that individual — in possible violation of federal election law.