William Cellini trial, Cellini played Democrats and Republicans, Operation Board Games, Rezko Levine Obama Blagojevich
From the Chicago Tribune September 9, 2011.
“Democrat, Republican — Cellini can play them all”
“Illinois Republicans are often easy to forget, what with the Democrats holding all the key offices, from City Hall West (121 N. LaSalle St.) to City Hall East (1600 Pennsylvania Ave.).
Political historians would tell you that all that power didn’t come from magic spells. It came from big-city Democratic Party patronage armies.
Historians might also tell you that armies travel best on roads.
And in Illinois, for decade upon decade upon decade, all the roads have led to Bill Cellini, the low-key multimillionaire boss hog Republican. Chieftain of the road builders, Cellini was at the heart of the bipartisan Illinois Combine.
Cellini made his fortune through his political connections, working with Republican governors on questionable inside deals from gambling casinos to real estate, all of it from his power base in Springfield. But it’s what he allegedly did with Democrat and convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich that finally landed Cellini in a federal indictment.
On Oct. 3, Cellini will stand trial in federal court in Chicago. If you’re there you’ll see a little guy in his late 70s in a dark suit, unassuming, a thin man wearing a Julius Caesar-style haircut.
And if you’re interested in how Illinois politics works — not the speeches of the puppets and the gamesmanship of their media lickspittles, but the real politics of hard leverage for big money — then you’ll pay attention.”
“”I’ve fought him my entire career,” Sen. Fitzgerald once told me about Cellini. “And for near 40 years, Cellini has been calling the shots from behind the scenes in Springfield. He’s gotten very rich off the taxpayers. Very rich.”
But Cellini stayed to pull the strings. And the Illinois Republican Party ran Pete Fitzgerald out of politics. So don’t tell me there’s not a Combine. The Cellini trial, one of the last chapters of the federal government’s Operation Board Games investigation, will lay out how the Combine works.
Powerful Illinois Republicans team up with powerful Illinois Democrats, and some earthy characters are thrown in. One is convicted political fixer Tony Rezko, fundraiser and real estate fairy to President Barack Obama, and fundraiser to Blagojevich as well.”
“He flew under that radar year after year, without getting much publicity. Fools like Blagojevich preen and demand media attention. Guys like Cellini prefer to count their coin in the shadows.”
“Think of a spider in the middle of a web, and all those silky strands bring him information on what’s coming for dinner.
A spider with hair combed forward over the forehead.
I can’t wait for October.”