While on vacation in Hawaii this month, President Obama played golf with Allison Davis, a former business partner of Tony Rezko who also helped give Obama his start in the legal profession.
Rezko is the former Obama associate and fundraiser who was convicted of corruption and fraud and currently sits in prison.
Davis, who is male, partnered with Rezko on a series of government-funded low and mixed income housing development projects in Chicago. While Davis himself has never been charged with wrongdoing, a number of the projects were high-priced failures that resulted in poor living conditions for residents.
According to a June 2008 exposé in the Boston Globe, one of the most egregious projects Davis helped create was Grove Parc Plaza, an assembly of “squat brick buildings” located in Obama’s former state senate district. According to the Globe:
About 99 of the units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale – a score so bad the buildings now face demolition.
Davis, the Globe wrote, “has used government subsidies to rehabilitate more than 1,500 units in Chicago, including a North Side building cited by city inspectors last year after chronic plumbing failures resulted in raw sewage spilling into several apartments.”
Davis’s son Cullen, who was also involved in the North Side project, attributed the problems to restrictions on the way it was financed.
Allison Davis’s legal firm hired Obama out of law school, leading some to describe him as a “mentor” to the future president. Along with Rezko, Davis was a major contributor to Obama’s early political campaigns.
Obama, according to the Globe piece, in 2001 sponsored successful legislation that increased state subsidies for private developers. In 1998, after Rezko and Davis created a limited partnership to build an apartment for seniors, Obama “wrote letters on state Senate stationary supporting city and state loans for the project.”
Obama, who is a supporter of public-private development initiatives, has denied the letters were a favor to Rezko and Davis and has said he ever did any favors for Rezko.
Obama played golf with Davis January 2 at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Also in on the foursome were Marty Nesbitt, another of Obama’s Chicago associates, and Obama Hawaii pal Bobby Titcomb.