Blagojevich trial, Redacted motion segments, Obama and Rezko
Yesterday we learned of the Blagojevich defense team filing a motion to subpoena Barack Obama for the Rod Blagojevich trial. Later in the day we discovered that redacted segments of the motion had been made available. There is some interesting material that was redacted. The part that caught my eye was references to Obama andRezko discussions that Obama has denied.
22. However, the defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama’s former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys
a different story about President Obama. In a recent in camera proceeding, the government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko “has stated
in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich. … Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. … Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and administration, which the public official denies having had.”10
10 The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama.
“No, I have never been asked to do anything to advance his business interest. In 1999, when I was a State Senator, I opposed legislation to bring a
casino to Rosemont and allow casino gambling at docked riverboats which news reports said Al Johnson and Tony Rezko were interested in being part of. I never discussed a casino license with either of them. I was a vocal opponent of the legislation.”
Obama’s involvement with Tony Rezko and this legislation coincides with the three paragraph summary the government has provided to the defense referenced above.
From the Tony Rezko trial in 2008.
April 15, 2008
“Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama’s name came up again at the Antoin “Tony” Rezko corruption trial Monday.”
“Here’s the back story. Rezko, of course, was a longtime political fundraiser for both Obama and Blagojevich, though the corruption charges Rezko is now facing involve his role as an influential adviser to the governor. Prosecution star witness Stuart Levine testified that he attended a party in Rezko’s Wilmette house in April 2004 for Nadhmi Auchi, a controversial British billionaire.
Rezko was trolling for investment capital for a South Loop development, and the party was part of his campaign to get Auchi to invest. Levine said guests at the party included Obama and his wife.”
The trial transcripts can be viewed here:
From the Blagojevich trial proffer recently released by judge James Zagel.
“Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board Kickback
The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board (the “Planning Board”) is a commission of the
State of Illinois, established by statute, whose members are appointed by the Governor of the State
of Illinois. During the relevant time period, the Planning Board consisted of nine individuals. State
law required an entity seeking to build a hospital, medical office building, or other medical facility
in Illinois to obtain a permit, known as a “Certificate of Need” (“CON”), from the Planning Board
prior to beginning construction.
Rezko was able to obtain significant influence over the affairs of the Planning Board by
arranging for Blagojevich to appoint five of Rezko’s associates and/or friends, including Levine, as
members of the Planning Board in 2003. Rezko and Levine subsequently agreed to use their
influence over the Planning Board to obtain a kickback of at least $1 million from a contractor,
Jacob Kiferbaum, who wanted the Planning Board to award Mercy Hospital a CON to build a new
hospital. Rezko and Levine were able to arrange for Mercy Hospital to receive its CON at the April
2004 Planning Board meeting, but their scheme was interrupted by the FBI before any kickback was
Control over the Planning Board
Levine was on the Planning Board when Blagojevich became governor, but his term was due
to expire in 2003. Levine sent a message to the Blagojevich administration through Cellini that he
wanted to be re-appointed. Levine later heard from both Kelly and Cellini that he would be reappointed,
and Levine was re-appointed to the Planning Board in the Fall of 2003.
After Levine was reappointed, he shared a private plane ride from New York to Chicago with
Blagojevich and Kelly. Levine, Blagojevich, and Kelly were the only passengers on the flight. At
the beginning of the flight, Levine thanked Blagojevich for reappointing him to the Planning Board.
Blagojevich responded (in Kelly’s presence) that Levine should only talk with “Tony” [Rezko] or
“Chris” [Kelly] about the board, “but you stick with us and you will do very well for yourself.”
Levine understood from Blagojevich’s manner of speaking and words that Blagojevich did not want
Levine to talk to Blagojevich directly about anything to do with the boards, but that Levine should
talk to Rezko or Kelly. Levine also understood that Blagojevich meant that Levine could make a
lot of money working with Blagojevich’s administration. Blagojevich did not seem to expect a
response from Levine, and Kelly then shifted the conversation to something else.
Around the time that Levine was reappointed, Rezko told Levine that he expected to control
the Planning Board. Rezko said that he had discussed the makeup of the Planning Board with
Thomas Beck, who was the Chairman of the Planning Board. Before one of the Planning Board
meetings, Beck talked to Levine about how there were five members of the Planning Board who
were Rezko’s people, including Levine and Beck. The other three individuals who would vote as
Rezko wished were Fortune Massuda, Imad Almanaseer, and Michel Malek. Documents and
testimony from individuals in Illinois state government who helped select candidates for boards and
commissions positions, including the Planning Board, confirm that Rezko was the individual
responsible for selecting those five individuals to be appointed to the Planning Board. Since it took
five votes to approve any CON, Rezko’s people effectively controlled what the Planning Board did.
Beck typically indicated to Levine and the other three members of Rezko’s voting bloc the items on
the Planning Board agenda that Rezko cared about and how Rezko wanted them to vote.”
How is Obama tied to this scheme?
From the Rezko trial.
March 6, 2008
Duffy mentions Levine’s close political ties to the late Mayor Harold Washington, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill), former Gov. Jim Edgar and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago) as examples of how connected Levine was.”
March 10, 2008
“Ziegelmueller asked Hayden about a 2003 e-mail exchange with Lichtenstein, then the governor’s top lawyer, in which Wilhelm made recommendations for the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.
The name of Barack Obama, the Democratic front-runner for the presidential nomination, also appears in the e-mail as a member of a strategic team reviewing hospital board matters with the governor’s staff when he was a state senator. The hospital board was scheduled to be revamped in the summer of 2003.
Obama was then chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services. Other legislative leaders, including Madigan, were part of that review panel as well, according to the e-mail.”
March 12, 2008
“Fast forward to July 15, 2003, when Gov. Rod Blagojevich was revamping the hospital board on which Beck held a seat for several years. Beck said he wanted to stay on the panel so he called on Rezko at his North Side office. He came armed with a $1,000 check for Blagojevich’s campaign fund. Beck said he asked Rezko to put in a good word for him and Rezko said he would see what he could do.
A few weeks later, Beck said Rezko called him with the good news that he would be reappointed to the board along with Stuart Levine and another holdover member. Rezko also said three doctor friends of his were going to be put on the revamped panel by Blagojevich, Beck testified.”
“Key to the government case are dozens of recorded wiretap conversations on three phone lines into the home of Stuart Levine, the former member of two state boards whom prosecutors say worked with Antoin “Tony” Rezko to rig decisions of those panels.
FBI Special Agent Daniel Cain, the primary case agent on the investigation into Levine and Rezko, is on the stand now in testimony that is laying the foundation for entering the wiretaps into evidence.
Cain said the investigation, dubbed Operation Board Games by the federal agents, began in December 2003 and was prompted by information gleaned from an informant whom he did not identify. That witness, he said, took part in meetings with two other individuals who were in contact with Levine by phone at his home.
Cain said Levine had three phone lines in his North Shore home. Federal agents recorded conversations on those lines April 8-May 21, 2004. Those dates span the time when Levine, Rezko and others allegedly were working to rig the hospital board vote on a Mercy Health System hospital proposal for Crystal Lake and other kickback schemes prosecutors claim they were engaged in.”
Just as Rod Blagojevich’s involvement in Chicago, IL corruption was revealed during the Tony Rezko trial, Obama’s involvement should be revealed in the Blagojevich trial.
Reported here (and much earlier), April 1, 2010.
“In the media, Obama always made it sound like he rarely saw Rezko, saying they met for breakfast or lunch once or twice a year. However, the FBI mole John Thomas helped investigators “build a record of repeat visits to the old offices of Rezko and former business partner Daniel Mahru’s Rezmar Corp., at 853 N. Elston, by Blagojevich and Obama during 2004 and 2005,“ according to the February 10, 2008 Sun-Times.
During his March 14, 2008 interview, the Times told Obama, Thomas is an FBI mole and he “recently told us that he saw you coming and going from Rezko’s office a lot.”
“And three other sources told us that you and Rezko spoke on the phone daily.””
“The rigging of the IL Health Planning Facilities Board is a major charge in the indictments of Rod Blagojevich, Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine, Robert Weinstein and others tied to Barack Obama.”
“In or about the spring of 2004, REZKO and LEVINE agreed that LEVINE, whose term on the TRS Board was due to expire in May 2004, needed to be reappointed to the TRS Board and that additional TRS Board members needed to be appointed who would cooperate with REZKO and LEVINE.”
“Obama was chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee in January 2003.”
“A review of senate records from January 2003 to August 2003, shows Obama played a major role as chairman of that committee, in pushing through Senate Bill 1332, that led to the “Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act,” which reduced the number of members on the Board from 15 to 9, making the votes much easier to rig.”
“The bill was filed with the senate secretary on February 20, 2003, and assigned to Human Services Committee for review on February 27. Less than a month later, as chairman, Obama sent word that the bill should be passed on March 13, 2003.”
“On May 31, 2003, the House and Senate passed the bill and the only senator listed in the “yes” votes mentioned in the Board Games indictments is Obama.
Blagojevich made the effective date June 27, 2003, and the co-schemers already had the people lined up to stack the Board and rig the votes with full approval from Obama.”
“So far, Blagojevich, reelected in 2006, is more deeply enmeshed in the scandal than Obama, who’s not been implicated in any wrongdoing.
But all three operated in the murky world of Illinois Democratic politics, where money, family relationships and long business associations provide the invisible glue of the local political world.”
“Using Federal Election Commission and Illinois state records, The Times’ Dan Morain compared donors on the FBI spreadsheet to Obama’s contributors. Guess what.
Sen. Obama received $222,000 during the same 2001-2004 period from Rezko-related Blagojevich donors.”
“At the relevant time period, the Planning Board consisted of nine individuals.”
Reported here November 2, 2009.
“Ata made a $5,000 donation to Obama less than a month earlier on June 30, 2003. Ata is also an investor in Riverside Park. Almost without fail, the people identified in the Board Games cases as investors in Riverside Park contributed to Obama’s US senate campaign.”
Reported here December 11, 2008.
“In addition, the contributions extorted through the Planning Board scheme were for the intended presidential candidate, Blagojevich. Obama’s US senate war chest was already funded and by the time these kickbacks were paid that campaign would be over.
But Obama did end up with $20,000 from the very first kickback paid in the pension fund scheme set up through the Board of the Teacher’s Retirement System.
Elie Maloof and Joseph Aramanda, the straw donors used to funnel the contributions to Obama, also made $1,000 contributions of their own for his failed run for Congress in 2000, on the same day March 17, 2000.
In addition, Aramanda gave $500 to Obama’s senate campaign on June 30, 2003. In the summer of 2005, Aramanda’s teenage son landed a coveted intern position in Obama’s senate office in Washington.
Obama also received contributions directly from the persons appointed to the pension board for the express purpose of rigging the votes. On June 30, 2003, appointee, Jack Carriglio contributed $1,000.
The other appointee, Anthony Abboud, donated $500 to Obama on June 30, 2003, $250 on March 5, 2004, and $1,000 on June 25, 2004.
Michael Winter, who prosecutors say agreed to serve as a funnel for kickbacks paid through an investment firm in one scheme donated $3,000 to Obama on June 30, 2003.”
Will the mainstream media, including Fox News, cover the real corruption in Chicago and Illinois that Blagojevich and Obama were enmeshed in? Spread the word via your friends and email contacts. Demand that Fox and anyone who will listen report the facts.