Blagojevich trial, May 1, 2010, Pay to play politics, Obama Blagojevich Rezko corruption cronies
“The investigation dubbed “Operation Board Games,” into the influence peddling within the cesspool of corruption that encompasses Illinois politicians from both major parties, has developed into multiple subplots, many of which feature Barack Obama.
Therefore, Obama should start bidding for the starring role in the movie that is sure to follow the criminal trials involved in this case because he has absolutely no chance of winning the White House, even if the leaders of the Democratic party allow this sorry charade to carry on and his name appears on the ballot.
The major media organizations continue to ignore a story that is destined to become the biggest political scandal of the decade, except for a bleep here and there. By now this can only mean one of two things. They are either unwilling to commit the manpower necessary to connect the dots of all the subplots or they know the Republicans will supply the goods free of charge the minute Obama becomes the nominee.”…Journalist Evelyn Pringle, April 21, 2008
The Democrats, Republicans and Mainstream Media allowed Barack Obama to slip through the 2008 election cycle without being vetted, without being adequately challenged.
Some or all of the following words apply:
Party politics over country
From Evelyn Pringle at The Real Obama, April 21, 2008.
“This two-part article is the last article in a 3-part series. The first two, Barack Obama — Wizard of Oz and Barack Obama — Operation Board Games for Slumlords, cover Obama’s rise to fame in the political mafia of Illinois, bankrolled by the now infamous Syrian-born influence peddler, Antoin “Tony” Rezko.
They also give the details of Obama’s involvement in a slumlord business largely operating out of the Chicago-based Davis, Miner & Barnhill law firm, which hired Obama in 1993, with his boss, Allison Davis, reaping in the profits with Rezko‘s development company, Rezmar.
The “Board Games For Slumlord” article gives in-depth details of the federal investigation along with the names of people who are listed as “Co-Schemers” and “Individuals” in the indictments issued thus far. Therefore for the most part, this article will refer to all the scams collectively as what prosecutors refer to as “pay-to-play” schemes.
The mainstream media continues to refer to the corruption trial currently taking place in a Federal courthouse in Chicago as the Rezko case, never mentioning the fact that Rezko is sitting in the courtroom alone at the defendant’s table only because many of the co-defendants have already pleaded guilty, or have not been indicted yet.
Some of the people listed in the indictments as co-schemers and individuals include William Cellini, a long-standing Republican powerbroker in Illinois, and Robert Kjellander, treasurer for the Republican National Committee.
In the April 3, 2008 Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Brown wrote: “For more than three decades, William Cellini has been the unseen hand pulling the strings of Illinois government, adroitly manipulating it to his purpose.”
“That purpose,” Brown noted, “was mainly to make himself rich — through lobbying fees and insider contracts, government loans and leases for his real estate developments, and finally the coup de grace, his own riverboat casino company.”
Cellini was a co-founder of Commonwealth Realty Advisors, “a firm that has received hundreds of millions of dollars in pension funds to invest on behalf of retired state employees and teachers,” according to a report by Rick Pearson in the April 6, 2008 Chicago Tribune.
The Feds have several incriminating taped conversations between Cellini and the co-schemers and after hearing the tapes, Sun-Time reporter, Mark Brown wrote:
“That Cellini would slip up and allow himself to be caught on a federal wiretap is nothing short of a miracle to those of us who have marveled at his career and attempted to expose his deals where we could — mostly in vain and always too late to foil him.””
“Rezko is widely known to be a bipartisan influence peddler. During his opening statement, Rezko’s lead defense attorney, Joseph Duffy, told the jury that Rezko raised money for Democrats and Republicans alike, such as former Cook County Board President, John Stroger, and Representative Luis Gutierrez, Democrats, and former Governor Jim Edgar, a Republican, along with current Governor Rod Blagojevich and Obama, both Democrats.
Duffy told the jurors that Rezko “met Barack Obama when he was in Harvard Law School and tried to hire him” to be the lawyer for his development company. During 2003 and 2004, he said, Rezko helped organize fundraisers for both President Bush and Obama
Persons who have avoided trial in the Board Games case by pleading guilty to corruption charges include the government’s star witness, Stuart Levine, a Chicago businessman who had been a major fundraiser for Republicans in Illinois for decades, including Bush.
Levine was the first defendant nailed in the Board Games investigation. The FBI confronted him four years ago on May 20, 2004, and although he was cooperating with the Feds for some time, he did not enter an official guilty plea until October 2006.
Defendants who pleaded guilty as early as September 2005, include Chicago attorney, Steve Loren, a lawyer for the teacher’s retirement pension fund, Joseph Cari, an attorney and former finance chairman for the national Democratic National Committee, and Jacob Kiferbaum, owner of a Chicago area construction company.”
“The first indictment alleged that Rezko participated in a scheme to obtain millions of dollars by shaking down firms doing business before two Illinois regulatory boards, the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and the Hospital Facilities Planning Board, on which Levine served. In the press release, Fitzgerald stated:
“This indictment describes a frenzy of corrupt scheming, particularly in April and May 2004, in which political insiders sought to manipulate the activities of two state boards to fleece investment firms and individuals. The defendants and their associates put the word out loud and clear: you have to pay to play in Illinois.””
“Allison Davis, Obama’s boss at the law firm, is also listed in legal documents as playing a part in setting up a major extortion attempt in the Board Games case.”
“The first two articles in this series reported that Blagojevich was supposed to be the candidate for President, not Obama. That assertion was based on testimony in the trial by the government’s star witness, Stuart Levine, about conversations he had with Rezko.
That one of the main goals of the “pay-to-play” schemes was to raise money for a presidential run by Blagojevich was collaborated by testimony on April 15, 2008, by Joseph Cari.
He told the jury about a conversation he had with Blagojevich himself in 2003, in which Blagojevich told him that it would be easer for him to raise money then a senator because now that he was governor, Blagojevich had the power to hand out contracts and state business to people who contributed to his campaign.”
“Obama’s political career was bankrolled by the same gang that planned to make Blagojevich president. For instance, Fortunee Massuda, another participant identified in the “pay-to-play” schemes, contributed $25,000 to Blagojevich compared to $2,000 to Obama. Michel Malek, another participant, threw $25,000 to Blagojevich and $10,500 to Obama.
Ali Ata, another guy listed as a co-schemer in one indictment, was made executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, and he contributed $25,000 to Blagojevich and $5,000 to Obama.
Jay Wilton, identified by prosecutors as a major contributor to Blagojevich, is the owner of Wilton Partners, a construction company in California. He donated $50,000 to Blagojevich shortly after his firm cinched an $83 million contract with the state to refurbish the Illinois tollway’s oasis rest stops. Wilton also gave $5,000 to Obama.
Joe Cari donated $15,000 to Blagojevich but only gave $1,335 to Obama.
A trial exhibit produced by an FBI agent, identifies major contributors who donated $1.43 million to Blagojevich between 2001 and 2004. The Chicago Sun-Times compared the exhibit to government campaign records on Obama and found he received more than $220,000 from many of the same donors between 2001 and 2004.
John Rogers, the head of Ariel Capital, an investment firm that ended up with major money from the pension funds, is on the FBI’s summary of Blagojevich’s top contributors. He also gave Obama $25,000.”
“Daniel Mahru, a major player in the Chicago slumlord racket, has reportedly flipped in the Board Games case and is cooperating with the prosecution. He is the owner of Automatic Ice Company, which donated $10,000 to Blagojevich. Mahru gave $5,000 to Obama.
Attorney, Jack Carriglio, contributed $25,000 to Blagojevich and was appointed to the TRS Board. He also gave $1000 to Obama.
After Rezko’s indictment was unsealed in October 2006, the first report in the Chicago Tribune noted, “Obama donated $11,500 to charity — a total that represents what Rezko contributed to the senator’s federal campaign fund.”
That statement intentionally leads readers to believe that Obama donated all campaign contributions from Rezko to charity, which is so far from the truth that it’s laughable.
On November 5, 2006, the Tribune reported that, Obama said Rezko raised as much as $60,000 for him during his political career. The next day, the Sun-Times quoted Obama as saying: “I did however donate campaign contributions from Rezko to charity.”
The Obama camp stuck with the $50,000 or $60,000 story for nearly a year until Obama’s March 14, 2008 interviews with the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune and the team of reporters pinned him down and the amount added up to $250,000.”
“A podiatrist, Fortunee Massuda, selected to a serve “on a powerful state health-care oversight panel is a partner in a real estate venture with a top Blagojevich fundraiser and counselor who recommended her appointment,” the report stated.
Massuda’s connection to Antoin Rezko, the Blagojevich fundraiser and adviser, was not publicly disclosed when the governor appointed her to the Health Facilities Planning Board on August 12, 2003, the Times pointed out.
The report also noted that Massuda was one of “several members” appointed by Blagojevich to sit on the board, “after the governor won legislative approval” to overhaul its membership. That would be the “legislative approval” that Obama signed off on.”
“And let there be no doubt, Obama is a member of this corrupt gang. On January 22, 2007 ABC News in Chicago announced that Senator Obama “is supporting Mayor Daley’s re-election bid despite a series of City Hall corruption scandals.”
Mayor Daley endorsed Obama for president a few weeks ago and the mayor’s brother Bill is now an Obama advisor, the report noted.
“So in the spirit of political payback, Obama is endorsing Daley for re-election over two African American challengers despite a series of City Hall corruption scandals that Obama called deeply troubling as recently as a few months ago.”
ABC reported that Obama said, “Daley’s overall record, his style of inclusion and his love of Chicago make him a better choice than challengers.”
Obama also endorsed Daley’s running mates for City Clerk, Miguel Del Valle, and Stepanie Neeley, for Treasurer, ABC News added. It should be noted, that the last City Clerk just got out of prison after being convicted in the Hired Truck scandal, and has written a book about the corruption in the Daley administration.
Five months after Obama publicly endorsed Daley, a report by David Jackson and John McCormick in the June 12, 2007 Tribune noted that:
“Obama endorsed former Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd), calling her “a very early supporter of my campaign.” Tillman was then under fire for her stewardship of the scandal-plagued Harold Washington Cultural Center, where contracts benefited members of her family.
“Obama supported the re-election of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose administration is embroiled in corruption probes.”
And during the race for Cook County Board president, Obama predictably endorsed Todd Stroger over a Republican and was criticized for calling Stroger “a good progressive” despite allegations of job-rigging to favor members of Stroger’s 8th Ward organization,” according to the report.
On September 5, 2007, the New York Post reported that: “A man who has long been dogged by charges that the bank his family owns helped finance a Chicago crime figure will host a Windy City fund-raiser tonight for Senator Barack Obama.”
Alex Giannoulias became Illinois state treasurer last year after Obama vouched for him, has pledged to raise $100,000 for the senator’s Oval Office bid, the Post noted.”
The information about Barack Obama, easily available on the internet early in 2008, would have prevented any other candidate running for office in this country from moving forward. Why was Obama allowed to escape this scrutiny. What entities made this possible?
If the trial of Rod Blagojevich does not display this rampant corruption before the world, we have a very serious problem.
To learn more about Rod Blagojevich, Tony rezko, Barack Obama, et al and the events leading up to the Blagojevich trial visit:
Blagojevich Trial 101