Barack Obama is taking heat for accepting a better-than-average interest rate that saves him $300 a month on his $1.32 million mortgage, the Washington Post reports. The 30-year, fixed 5.625% rate on the Democrat's Chicago home was under the 6% being offered other buyers in June 2005 by Northern Trust, and included no origination fee or discount points.
An Obama spokesman said the bank lowered the rate to compete with other lenders; Northern Trust said it aims to " pursue successful individuals." Questions arise, however, if the loan to a public official could be classified as an illegal gift. "Do they do business like that for people who are not congressmen? If they don't, that's a problem," said one legal expert.