[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/21/art.obamahome0821.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Obama purchased land from Chicago businessman Tony Rezko in order to enlarge the yard next to this house."]
(CNN) – It appears both presumptive presidential nominees have vulnerablilities when it comes to their homes.
Democrats and Sen. Barack Obama have pounced on Sen. John McCain’s inability in a recent interview to say definitely how many homes he owns with wife Cindy.
Now, Republicans are hitting back hard by highlighting a land deal between Obama and Tony Rezko, a Chicago businessman who was convicted in June on federal corruption charges.
The Republican National Committee launched a new Web site - ObamaRezkoShadyDeal.com – Thursday. The site focuses on Obama’s relationship with Rezko and collects information about the presumptive Democratic nominee’s ties to the disgraced businessman.
California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa also took the opportunity Friday to redirect attention away from McCain’s home ownership and onto Obama and his ties to Rezko. Suggesting that Obama had gotten a sweetheart deal in the transaction with Rezko, Issa said Obama received “a preferential Chicago-type deal.” Issa also told reporters on Capitol Hill that Obama had been the subject of “a near criminal investigation” and that there are doubts about whether the land deal with Rezko was legal.
In mid-2005, the Obamas and the Rezkos both closed transactions on adjoining pieces of property. The lot owned by the Rezkos was empty and the Obama land contained the Illinois senator’s newly purchased home. About six months later, Obama approached Rezko about buying a piece of the empty lot next to the Obamas’ property in order to enlarge the yard next to their home. The land deal occurred when it was widely known that Rezko was under investigation by federal authorities.
When news of the land deal surfaced in late 2006, Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times that he regretted not being more sensitive to how the land deal may have appeared. Obama has maintained that his conduct in the deal with legal and ethical and Rezko’s federal conviction was unrelated to the deal with Obama.
Raising questions about the nature and propriety of Obama’s relationship with Rezko was a strategy Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign employed during the primary battle against Obama.