LOS ANGELES — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a national co-chair of Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, banked at least $7,500 in political donations linked to an indicted Chicago businessman whose past connections to Barack Obama have been used by Clinton to criticize her rival.
City records show Antoin Rezko, idenfitied as chairman of Rezmar Corp. of Chicago, contributed $1,000 to Villaraigosa's mayoral campaign in May 2001. Those records show Rezko also donated $500 to another Villaraigosa political committee in March 2003.
Records show Villaraigosa received at least another $6,000 from people or businesses with connections to Rezko.
Asked to confirm whether the mayor received donations from Rezko, spokesman Sean Clegg said "the contributions are currently under review."
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Clegg said Villaraigosa doesn't know Rezko and was unaware whether Rezko or any of his companies were doing business with the city, or bidding on city contracts.
"The contributions from 2001 and 2003 were long before any issues related to Tony Rezko became public," Clegg said.
The donations could prove to be a political embarrassment for Clinton, who accused Obama in a South Carolina debate of representing Rezko "in his slum landlord business" when Obama was a young Chicago lawyer.
Rezko has been a patron of Illinois politicians for years and Obama's connections to Rezko go back more than 15 years. Rezko has contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of both Obama and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Neither has been accused of any wrongdoing.
Obama's campaign has given to charity nearly $150,000 in contributions received by Obama's House, Senate and presidential campaigns that came from Rezko, his employees, his associates and his family.
Obama represented partners of Rezko's company in government-subsidized apartment rehabilitation projects, not Rezko himself. Obama says he did no more than five or six hours of work for the partners.
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