Written by Tom Fitton
February 13, 2009
by Tom Fitton
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) notified Judicial Watch this week that it has "closed the file" on our complaint against Senator Barack Obama for allegedly accepting a below market rate mortgage loan in 2005 not available to the general consumer. In its factual and legal analysis, however, the FEC does confirm that Obama obtained a discounted loan but said no laws were violated.
So, to sum: Yes Barack Obama did receive a special below-market loan the rest of us couldn't get. And a big "no" to the idea that he ought to be held accountable for it. Upset? So are we.
Here's a bit of the back story.
According to Judicial Watch's original FEC complaint, filed July 8, 2008, Obama reportedly received a home loan of $1.32 million at a rate of 5.625 percent, although the average going rate on that day according to two different surveys was between 5.93 and 6 percent. Unlike what was reportedly available for the general consumer, this special below market "super super jumbo" loan, was secured without an origination fee or discount points.
According to The Washington Post, which first raised questions about Obama's mortgage, the favorable interest rate would save Barack Obama $300 a month, which over the life of the 30-year loan, would be at least $108,000. Judicial Watch contends these preferential loan terms constitute an illegal corporate campaign contribution to Obama.
As Judicial Watch noted in its complaint, Northern Trust has supported Barack Obama's political campaigns for elected office since 1990. Moreover, Northern Trust Vice President John O'Connell essentially admitted the company provided Obama preferential loan terms because of his position in the U.S. Senate. (Obama was a senator at the time.) "A person's occupation and salary are two factors; I would expect those are two things we would take into consideration," O'Connell told The Washington Post [emphasis added]. "This was a business proposition for us."
The FEC's legal analysis dismissed O'Connell's admission. The FEC based its decision to exonerate Obama largely on the fact that Northern Trust claims it provided preferential terms to other "similarly situated borrowers" in addition to Obama. Northern Trust's new explanation was that eight of 14 of similarly situated borrowers (including Obama) received a mortgage loan discount.
Who are these unnamed "similarly situated" borrowers? Are they also elected officials? We don't know because neither Northern Trust nor the FEC have been forthcoming with any details.
Needless to say, as I told the press this week, for the FEC to base its decision to excuse Obama on the fact that a few other unnamed borrowers also received sweetheart mortgages seems irresponsible. Look no further than the Countrywide which doled out corrupt mortgages to numerous public officials to see the massive hole in that logic.
The fact is that Northern Trust's president admitted Obama received the loan, in part, based on his position. This is improper and almost certainly constitutes an illegal campaign contribution (or gift). In our view, the FEC's response is inadequate and it certainly does not serve the public's interest.
Judicial Watch Sues Homeland Security over Mexican Incursion Documents
Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit recently against the Department of Homeland Security to obtain all available records involving incursions by armed Mexican government personnel into the United States in 2008. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain these records and, as per usual, the government stonewalled, prompting the lawsuit.
Now I know why the federal government doesn't want these records released. Because they likely reveal the chaotic and dangerous situation at our nation's border with Mexico and highlight the government's impotent response to this serious threat to national security.
If the public understood the full truth about unmarked helicopters invading our air space, shots fired on the border, and drug smuggling by Mexican government operatives, there would be widespread public outrage and that is obviously something the federal government would rather avoid.
And if you think I'm exaggerating, just check out some of the incidents uncovered by Judicial Watch from the last batch of records we obtained for 2007.
MEXICAN MILITARY INCURSION (ARMED/INTENTIONAL) TUCSON/TUCSON - On April 23, 2007, Border Patrol Agents...reported a Mexican military incursion on the Tres Bellotas Ranch near Arivaca, Arizona. The agents were using night vision equipment and observed...seven to ten Mexican military personnel in Humvees carrying long arms...The agents continued to back away from the [soldiers] when they heard [one] soldier chamber a round into his rifle. The agents observed...that the military personnel had fanned out in a tactical formation on both sides of the US/Mexico International Boundary.
MEXICAN MILITARY INCURSION (ARMED/INTENTIONAL) TUCSON SECTOR/SONOITA SECTOR - On July 5, 2007 a Border Patrol Agent...encountered six subjects dressed in tan colored BDU style clothing...A military style Humvee and a black Suburban were parked on the Mexican side of the border...Two of the subjects appeared to be carrying bundles of narcotics on their backs.
MEXICAN POLICE INCURSION (ARMED/INTENTIONAL) EL CENTRO SECTOR/CALEXICO STATION - On August 26, 2007, Remote Video Surveillance System operators...observed a red Ford F150 south of the All American Canal between the United States and Mexico...Agents...encountered the vehicle and performed a vehicle stop...The agents found credentials on the driver indicating that [name redacted] is an Agent of the Mexican Agencia Federal de Investigation. The agents searched the vehicle and discovered several items to include: guns, ammunition, narcotics, night vision equipment, cell phones, a walkie talkie and a ski mask.
Overall, between 1996 and September 30, 2007 there have been 278 confirmed incursions into the United States by Mexican Government personnel according to the Border Patrol Field Intelligence Center. Prior to Judicial Watch getting its hands on this information, the Department of Homeland Security had labeled the evaluated information in the report "For Official Use Only" and "Law Enforcement Sensitive Information."
If you want to check out all of the Mexican Government incursion reports we've obtained, from 2003 through 2007 click here. I'll keep you posted as to when we obtain the most recent records from 2008.
Montgomery County, MD, Announces Stricter Anti-illegal Immigration Policy
As most of you know, Judicial Watch has launched a nationwide campaign to help enforce our nation's immigration laws, a campaign that has taken Judicial Watch's investigations and legal teams from Southhampton, NY, to Phoenix, AZ, to Los Angeles, California, and many places in between. However, some of our most significant successes have come right in our own backyard.
Of course, Judicial Watch helped force the Town of Herndon, Virginia, to shut down its illegal day labor site. And now, it appears that Judicial Watch's work with a local grassroots organization called Help Save Maryland is paying dividends in Montgomery County, Maryland.
According to The Washington Post:
Montgomery County police will soon start telling federal immigration authorities the names of all suspects they arrest for violent crimes and handgun violations, an approach that reflects growing concerns about illegal immigration and crime but stops short of the broader enforcement efforts used in some counties.
Now, as the Post points out, this is just a baby step for Montgomery County -- stopping short of where we would like them to be on the issue of illegal immigration enforcement. But when you consider just how powerful and active the pro-illegal immigration forces are in this part of the country, it is a significant victory. The DC suburb of Montgomery County is a liberal bastion. But recent outrages of illegal aliens murdering innocents after being released by local police have forced the liberals running the county to have a change of heart on immigration enforcement.
The lesson is to never stop pressuring any politician to do the right thing and enforce the rule of law on immigration matters.
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