That is a truly novel approach to politics. Except when it comes to Obama’s friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko. Tony is a high powered developer of slum property with friends in City Hall.
Well you know how it is in Chicago politics. Sometimes silence is better than an insurance policy. A life insurance policy. Which only pays off after you are dead.

For five long weeks, Sun-Times’ investigative reporter Tim Novak called, e-mailed, requested, practically pleaded with Obama’s press people to provide information about the senator’s relationship to Rezko when it came to the development of low-income housing in Chicago. In an abundance of fairness and an excess of solicitousness, Novak sent a list of questions.
For five weeks, no answer.
Jointly, on behalf of both the Sun-Times and NBC5 News, Novak and I sent Obama’s campaign requests to interview the senator for both print and television.

So what subject does Obama need to avoid opinions (let alone facts) about?

Though Obama says he, himself, did a mere five hours of work, the 12-person law firm where Obama was a junior partner did significant legal work for Rezko’s company which, by 2002, was being sued by the city, state and a bunch of banks for defaulting on loans and doing a downright awful job of providing decent housing. Taxpayers and lenders have lost up to $100 million while Rezko’s firm made about $7 million.
There is no suggestion that Obama or his firm did anything illegal. But here’s a guy who, according to a recent Tribune profile of his wife, Michelle, was so scrupulous about the details of life that he actually went with her on a job interview just to make sure her potential employer was up to snuff. Too bad he didn’t give Rezko the same treatment.

So who is Tony Rezko?

Rezko, a native of Syria, came to Chicago in the late 1970s to study engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He joined an engineering company, designing nuclear power plants. He left to design roads for the state Transportation Department, making $21,590 in his one year there.
In 1984, Rezko went to work for Crucial Concessions Inc., owned by Herbert Muhammad, whose father, Elijah Muhammad, founded the Nation of Islam. Herbert Muhammad also was the longtime manager of boxing great Muhammad Ali. Crucial had a contract with the Chicago Park District to sell food on the beaches and in many South Side parks. Rezko was running Crucial when he met Daniel Mahru.
“That’s an interesting story,” Mahru said. “He sold food along the beaches, and I sold him ice.”
Mahru, chief executive officer of Automatic Ice Inc., which leases ice makers to bars, hotels and restaurants, grew up on the North Shore. He had been an attorney with a big Chicago law firm.
He and Rezko incorporated Rezmar in January 1989, when Chicagoans were focused on Daley’s campaign to oust Mayor Eugene Sawyer. Daley won, and Rezmar came seeking funding from City Hall.
“Rezmar Corp. expects this project to be the first of many during the next few years,” Mahru wrote in Rezmar’s first application to the city Housing Department.
And it was.
As Rezmar’s loan application was pending, Daley reformed the Housing Department. Daley said he found that housing officials were giving loans to their cronies. So the mayor’s staff would now decide who got the money.

Say. What a good idea. The Mayor is going to prevent loans to cronies. Other people’s cronies. His cronies? All good guys. He trusts them.
And how about the Nation of Islam connection? I’ve heard Obama is tight with the Nation of Islam and tight with Rezko. Looks like Obama and Rezko travel in similar circles.

Rezko was the schmoozer. He showered politicians with money for their campaign funds and got others to do the same. He gave to Democrats — foremost among them former Cook County Board President John Stroger, Gov. Blagojevich, Daley and Sen. Barack Obama. Rezko gave to Republicans, too — among them former Gov. Jim Edgar, the late Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens and President George W. Bush.
He also gave to others who held sway over Rezmar’s housing deals — like Chicago aldermen.
Meanwhile, Rezmar’s low-income apartments were deteriorating, and it stopped repaying some loans.
So why did the city keep lending Rezko’s company more tax dollars? “During the time he did work with us — and that was many years ago — there was nothing to indicate there was a problem,” Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said.
In fact, there was. City attorneys repeatedly went to court to force Rezmar to make repairs to its buildings and, in some cases, to get the heat turned on.

It is early in the campaign season and here I am doing Hillary’s work for her. No need to thank me Hillary. Consider it a public service.
Cross Posted at Power and Control