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Greatest Liability: Private Sector

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Obama: A Man Named Tony
Obama caught heat in November 2006 for some supposedly shady real-estate transactions he made with an actually shady guy. In 2005, Obama paid $1.65 million for his current home — $300,000 less than the asking price. On the same day, the wife of Antoin "Tony" Rezko — a politically connected fund-raiser and slumlord, who was under investigation for influence peddling at the time — bought the adjacent parcel of undeveloped land from the same owner for the asking price. (The owner had required that both lots be sold at the same time.) A year later, Obama bought a slice of Rezko’s land for $104,500 to expand his yard. While it might carry the whiff of genuine corruption, there’s been no proof of it to date. “Of course, there's just one problem with the scandal (Baragate? Obamawater?): No one is seriously accusing Obama of any wrongdoing,” Conor Clarke wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times. "The accusation bar for titans like Obama is low," he continues, "and a more slippery charge is readily available: Obama has created the appearance of having done something wrong." Obama has defended his actions, saying they were "aboveboard," but admits that even creating the perception of shady deals with Rezko was "boneheaded." But the Rezko issue won’t go away — there have since been suggestions that Obama, as a state senator, pushed one of Rezko’s real-estate projects as a favor, and represented him in his real-estate dealings. "From the start, Obama's approach to the Rezko situation has been to minimize and avoid, as if it would eventually just go away," wrote Mark Brown in the Chicago Sun-Times. "It won't."

McCain: Married Into Questionable Money?
McCain's adult life has been lived almost entirely in the public sphere, first as a navy man and then as a Senator. That left very little time for shady business dealings and entangling alliances. But McCain's marriage to Cindy Hensley tied him to her father, a wealthy Arizona beer distributor whose activities have inspired questions. Jim Hensley used to work for Kemper Marley, a liquor distributor with supposed mob ties. According to the American Mafia — "the organzies crime and Mafia super site" — Hensley took the fall for some of Marley's questionable business practices and was rewarded with his own beer distribution outfit. The Phoenix New Times is more suspicious of Hensley’s past: “One can only speculate how a convicted felon who falsified federal liquor records managed to obtain a state and federal wholesale liquor license within a few years of his 1949 conviction and 1953 indictment. But apparently, Hensley did.” McCain’s tenuous ties to Kemper Marley and therefore, the Mafia, have been repeated on several websites. More credible sources have acknowledged that McCain benefited politically and financial from his relationship to the Hensley family, but disregard any notion of McCain's supposed Mafia ties. If only McCain made questionable real estate decisions like the other candidates!


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