From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones and Carrie Dann
Speaking to reporters today, Obama chief strategist David Axelrod addressed reports that Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's Kenyan father, has been living illegally in the United States for four years. Axelrod expressed some skepticism about the timing of the news, which first broke in the Times of London and was confirmed by the Associated Press in the waning days of the presidential race.
"The campaign issued a statement on that," Axelrod told reporters, "And I don't have anything more to add to it, other than I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign.
"I think that they're going to take that," he added, "They're going to put it in that context."
In a statement earlier today, the campaign said that "Sen. Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed."
Campaign finance records indicate that Obama's aunt donated $265 to his campaign. The Obama team said today that the money would be refunded, as foreign nationals are not permitted to donate to presidential campaigns in the United States.
Onyango has lived in a public housing complex in Boston since an immigration judge turned down her request for asylum in 2004.
*** UPDATE *** Senior McCain campaign advisor Mark Salter declined to comment on the story, per NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy. Salter told reporters on McCain's plane that "it's a family matter."