Blagojevich Indictment Fallout - Obama's Tainted Illinois Connections

Jailed Obama Fixer Tony Rezko Mentioned 146 Times In Indictment

December 9, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - On February 10, 2007 Illinois' [now indicted] Milorad [Rod] Blagojevich became the first governor in the nation to endorse the candidacy of Barack Obama.

"On this historic day, I am pleased to join many Illinoisans who are excited and proud to support Senator Obama in his bid for the Presidency. I know that Senator Obama will fight to make sure that working families have access to health care, good paying jobs, and opportunities to provide for their children. Senator Obama supports the very best of these Democratic values; they are values that he and I share, values I know he will fight for.

"Senator Obama has the vision, skills and dedication necessary to bring people together and make real progress in Washington to help solve our country's greatest and most pressing problems. Senator Obama offers real hope for the American people and I am proud to give him my support.

"I want to take this opportunity on this historic day to urge the Legislature to immediately send me a bill to move our state's primary from March 18, 2008 to February 5, 2008. That will give Illinois voters an opportunity to send an early message in support of Senator Obama and send him to victory." [source, http://www.gwu.edu/~action/2008/cands08/endorse/endrb021007.html]

This morning, Mr. Blagojevich and his chief of staff were hauled off to jail, named in a 78 page two count federal criminal complaint [go here for the entire document Blagojevich Complaint

"Count One - From in or about 2002 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants did, conspire with each other and with others to devise and participate in a scheme to defraud the State of Illinois and the people of the State of Illinois of the honest services of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, in furtherance of which the mails and interstate wire communications would be used, in violation of Title 18, UnitedStates Code, Sections 1341,1343, and 1346; all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1349.

Count Two - Beginning no later than November 2008 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, being agents of the State of Illinois, a State government which during a one-year period, beginning January 1, 2008 and continuing to the present, received federal benefits in excess of $10,000, corruptly solicited and demanded a thing of value, namely, the firing of certain Chicago Tribune editorial members responsible for widely-circulated editorials critical of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with business and transactions of the State of Illinois involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more, namely, the provision of millions of dollars in financial assistance by the State of Illinois, including through the Illinois Finance Authority, an agency of the State of Illinois, to the Tribune Company involving the Wrigley Field baseball stadium; in violation of Title 18, United States Code,Sections 666(a)(1)(B) and 2."

Blagojevich and his chief aid are alleged to have engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to use their political connections for personal enrichment.

Central to this case is Antoin [Tony] Rezko, president elect Barack Obama's long time political ally.

Rezko was convicted in March on 16 of 24 counts involving wire and mail fraud and is set to face other charges. He is currently in prison but is cooperating with the feds and is believed to have been a key source of information in the Blagojevich prosecution, hoping for a reduction in sentence when that is meted out. Rezko is also facing other corruption charges and will stand trial for them some time early in 2009.

Rezko's relationships with Obama are myriad, here are just a few of the highlights.

  • Obama joined Chicago law firm Davis Miner Barnhill in 1993.
  • The firm's principal, Allison Davis, Obama's boss [and a founder of Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp ] partnered with Rezko [Rezmar Corp.] in 1995 to develop "inner city" properties. Obama provided legal counsel to make that deal work.
  • Rezko contributed funding to Obama's Illinois State Senate campaign in 1995.
  • When Obama decided to run for U.S. Senate, Rezko was a member of his campaign finance committee.
  • Upon election to the U.S. Senate, Obama entered into a land deal with Rezko's wife, Rita. Obama and Mrs. Rezko bought adjacent parcels of land. Obama's parcel contained a mansion and he paid $1.65 M for it and the land, which is reported to have been $300k less than the asking price. Mrs. Rezko got no similar consideration in her half of the transaction, paying the full asking price. Subsequently Mrs. Rezko sold part of her parcel to Obama for a little over $100k, one-sixth of the original purchase price for the full parcel.
  • Obama's relationship with Blagojevich is elemental and his key advisors are also linked to the now disgraced Illinois governor.

    According to a November 17 piece by New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza, [see Ryan Lizza, Battle Plans - How Obama won, New Yorker, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_lizza?currentPage=all] the president elect and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel played significant roles in Blago's successful first campaign.

    " That year [2002], he gained his first high-level experience in a statewide campaign when he advised the victorious gubernatorial candidate Rod Blagojevich, another politician with a funny name and a message of reform. Rahm Emanuel, a congressman from Chicago and a friend of Obama's, told me that he, Obama, David Wilhelm, who was Blagojevich's campaign co-chair, and another Blagojevich aide were the top strategists of Blagojevich's victory. He and Obama "participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor," Emanuel said. "We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two." A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuel's account?"

    Blago's tentacles also extended to Obama's campaign chief David Axelrod, though he did not work his gubernatorial campaign.

    ""He [Blagojevich] had been my client and I had a very good relationship with him?"

    What does this portend?

    It means that the Obama myth, the fresh-faced, clean-cut anti-politician is dead forever because his ties to Illinois' political corruption are long-standing and inescapable.

    Today's festivities are only the beginning.

    Paging through the criminal filing one is struck by the number of times [146] in which Tony Rezko is mentioned by name. Rezko therefore assumes a primary role in the case. It must be assumed that Rezko knows where all the bodies are burried in Chicago. This creates a huge problem for the incoming president, because Barack Obama's close relationship to Rezko means he was often part of the burial detail.

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