Judicial Watch Files Complaints Against Obama

Posted July 9, 2008 at 2:57pm

Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch filed complaints Wednesday with both the Federal Election Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee in response to media reports that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) received a sweetheart mortgage deal.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee reportedly received a below-market rate loan in 2005, when he applied for a $1.32 million “super super jumbo” loan to purchase his Chicago home. As first reported by the Washington Post, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage carried a 5.625 percent interest rate, although estimates put the average rate at that time between 5.93 percent and 6 percent.

An Obama spokesman denied wrongdoing in a statement to the Post, asserting that Northern Trust offered the lower rate to compete with another offer, among other factors.

In its complaints, however, Judicial Watch alleges the discounted rate amounts to a gift.

“It appears that due to his position as a United States Senator, Barack Obama received improper special treatment from Northern Trust resulting in an illicit ‘gift’ which has a value of almost $125,000 in interest savings,” the group wrote to the ethics panel.

At the same time, Judicial Watch requested the FEC determine whether the discounted interest rate amounts to an illegal corporate campaign contribution.