Sen. Barack Obama might be handing over a bit more campaign cash as he tries to distance himself from Tony Rezko, the indicted Illinois businessman and long-time political backer.
Appearing on ABC's This Week following his win in the South Carolina primary, Obama pledged to return every dollar he had raised that could be connected to the shady real estate developer and political pariah.
"Absolutely," the Illinois Democrat told host George Stephanopoulos. "Keep in mind, George that what we've done is we've traced any funds that we know of that we think were connected to him. And if there are other funds that were connected to him that we're not aware of, then we will certainly return them. It's in our interest to do so."
The statement came just days after ABC News reported that Obama had failed to return $100,000 in Rezko related campaign contributions, including money from Rezko's wife, associates and employees.
That report, in turn, came on the heels of a Los Angeles Times article alleging similar levels of unreturned campaign funds. The Times concluded that, since 1995, Obama had been provided more than $200,000 in donations form Rezko, his employees and business associates.
The Obama camp has not, to this point, acted on those reports. "We review our donations and where there are questions, we make decisions about donating to charity those which, in the circumstances, do not seem appropriate to retain," the senator's spokesperson Bill Burton told ABC.
While the money certainly helped contribute to Obama's rapid ascent in Illinois politics, no one has accused or uncovered any illegal behavior by the Illinois Democrat. Obama did, however, write letters to city and state officials supporting Rezko's successful effort to "get more than $14 million from taxpayers to build apartments for senior citizens."
Obama has returned $85,000 in Rezko-related campaign contributions in what a staffer calls "an abundance of caution."