December 24, 2006
In addition to a land deal, Sen. Barack Obama's ties to indicted dealmaker Antoin "Tony" Rezko include an internship the senator provided the son of a contributor at the request of Rezko, an Obama spokesman confirmed Saturday.
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.
"It was a mistake to have been engaged with him at all in this or any other personal business dealing that would allow him, or anyone else, to believe that he had done me a favor," Obama -- a likely presidential candidate -- told the Chicago Sun-Times in November.
Obama and Rezko have been friends since 1990, and the Wilmette businessman has raised as much as $60,000 in campaign contributions for him.
After Rezko's indictment, Obama donated $11,500 to charity -- the amount Rezko contributed to the senator's federal campaign fund.
Gibbs said no decision has been made on whether Obama will return any contributions from Aramanda, given his alleged role in the federal corruption cases against Rezko and former Teachers Retirement System board member Stuart Levine.
Aramanda is identified as "Individual D" in Rezko's indictment. And when Levine pleaded guilty in October, Aramanda again was listed as "Individual D."
Aramanda was identified by the Sun-Times as "Individual D," who allegedly received a $250,000 kickback tied to a scheme to steer lucrative state pension deals to firms and consultants that donated to Blagojevich. Aramanda is not specifically named or charged with criminal wrongdoing in the court papers. He did not return a call seeking comment Saturday.
Gibbs said John Aramanda served in Obama's Capitol Hill office from July 20 to Aug. 26, 2005.