Valerie Jarrett? We’ve certainly been seeing a lot more of her as of late.
Valerie Bowman Jarrett (born November 14, 1956) is a senior advisor and assistant to the president for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama administration. She is a Chicago lawyer and insider, businesswoman, civic leader, caustic personality and slum lord.
Valerie Jarrett has been part of Obama’s inner circle since his days as an Illinois state senator. She identifies herself as a Chicago businesswoman, but according to Obama campaign advisers, she is much more than that. Jarrett’s corruption and hypocrisy have no limits.
She is Iranian-American, and the Obama campaign has sought to keep her ties to Iran from the press, as it has also sought to keep her political background and deeply tangled business and personal relationship to the Obama family from sight. Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran to American parents James E. Bowman and Barbara Taylor Bowman. Her father, a pathologist and geneticist, ran a hospital for children in Shiraz, 1950, as part of a program where American doctors and agricultural experts sought to help jump-start developing countries’ health and farming efforts. When she was five, the family moved to London for one year, returning to Chicago in 1963.
Jarrett is a business executive, she also has been a well-known operative for Chicago Democrats working in the background as an adviser to late Chicago mayor Harold Washington, as well as the Daley family.
Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which developed and managed large housing projects in and around Chicago — and in Obama’s state legislative district — that were subsidized by federal and state housing dollars, and which were ultimately seized by federal authorities for what were unlivable conditions. While overseeing the company that managed these housing facilities, Jarrett also worked with long-time Obama friend and convicted felon Tony Rezko in raising money for Obama’s political career. She is the type of landlord who will allow tenants to live in her unheated rundown buildings in below zero conditions since she stole the Gubmint money while protesting Tax Cuts for the Richest 1%, the people who provide the jobs.
“She knows where are all the bodies have been buried in the past 30 or so years of Chicago politics and she knows all the tricks,” says one longtime Democrat political consultant in Chicago. “If Obama had a political and financial godmother, it would be Valerie.”
Jarrett, according to friends, gave Michelle Obama professional advice before she married Obama, and helped her with jobs. But more important, say Chicago Democrats who know Jarrett and Obama’s history, and why the Obama campaign has desperately sought to keep Jarrett’s role in the campaign under wraps, Jarrett may be to Obama what James McDougal was to Bill and Hillary Clinton. McDougall, a central figure in the Clinton’s Whitewater Scandal, gave the Clintons the financial wherewithal to raise their national political visibility. “Jarrett has done that for Barack and Michelle three or four times over,” says one insider, noting that Jarrett served as the CEO of a housing development company.
And Obama has returned the favor:
Obama campaign advisers have sought to have Jarrett fully vetted by the campaign to prepare for opposition research from the McCain campaign, fearing that she may have deeper and longstanding ties to financial entities associated with the subprime mortgage scandal.
“That and her ties to Chicago politicians and her Iranian background, and you have a potential nightmare,” says a Democrat media consultant who worked for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. “Say what you want about Hillary, but she didn’t have that kind of a triple threat on her team.”
Edward Klein in ‘The Amateur’ writes that all of Obama’s closest advisers have returned to Chicago, with the exception of Jarrett, who still remains best friends with Michelle, and even eats dinner with the First Family at 6:30 – something no other White House staffer can do. So powerful is Jarrett, in fact, that she can even force Chiefs of Staff to leave the White House.