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Obama's aunt? 'A family matter'

November 02, 2008|Michael Finnegan

A top advisor to Barack Obama on Saturday shrugged off the potential impact of a report that one of the Democratic nominee's Kenyan aunts is an illegal immigrant living in Boston.

"I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a campaign, and they're going to put it in that context," said David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Zeituni Onyango, a half-sister of Obama's late father, was denied asylum by an immigration judge four years ago. The judge instructed Onyango, a resident of public housing, to leave the United States.

"Sen. Obama has no knowledge of her status, but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed," campaign spokesman Bill Burton said.

Obama met Onyango on two trips to Kenya, his father's birthplace, and he last heard from her two years ago when she called to say she was living in Boston, the campaign said.

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that Obama's campaign would refund $265 in donations from Onyango. Foreign nationals are barred from contributing to U.S. presidential campaigns.

Mark Salter, an advisor to Republican John McCain, said the campaign would not comment on Obama's aunt, calling it "a family matter."

-- Michael Finnegan

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