tony rezko

Tony Rezko

Chicago "fixer" Antoin "Tony" Rezko, former bagman for Barack Obama. Convicted in June 2008 on fraud, money laundering, and other felony counts.

Last modified Dec 9, 2008
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Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich arrested by FBI on federal corruption charges; accused of trying to sell Obama's senate seat - 12/09/08

Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich - aka "Blago" - and his chief of staff have been arrested for trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat. And, Barack Obama - or at least his advisor Valerie Jarrett - probably knew what he was doing; see the "SEIU Official" paragraph below. And, Obama may have lied about his recent conversations with Blago; see the first update. Uh-oh: Obama might be more worried about this than it would at first appear; see the second update.

From a U.S. Department of Justice press release (usdoj.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2008/pr1209_01.pdf, text version here):
Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.


Shorter version: link

Dick Durbin calls for a special election: link

Obama's big donors involved: link

Chicago Mayor Richard M Daley responds: link
The criminal complaint against them is here: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2008/pr1209_01a.pdf Unfortunately, the name "Barack Obama" appears nowhere in that document, with the term "president-elect" used instead. However, at least at this point, he isn't otherwise involved in the investigation and may or may not have known about Blago's attempts.

And, the guessing game now will be to find out who the various "Senate Candidates", "Contributors", and "Lobbyists" mentioned are:
Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might "get some (money) up front, maybe" from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on October 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: "We were approached ‘pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator."
Marc Ambinder thinks #5 is Jesse Jackson Jr. Here's a table:

Senate Candidate 1 (Obama's choice): Valerie Jarrett (source)
Senate Candidate 2: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan? (see 'columnist' below)
Senate Candidate 3:
Senate Candidate 4: Dean Martinez?
Senate Candidate 5: Jesse Jackson Jr.?
Senate Candidate 6: wealthy, has an in with Warren Buffet

Are Tammy Duckworth or Rep. Jan Schakowsky on the list?

While the charges concentrate on Blago's dealings since October, it also includes past activities that may have some direct connection to Barack Obama:
The charges include historical allegations that Blagojevich and Harris schemed with others - including previously convicted defendants Antoin Rezko, Stuart Levine, Ali Ata and others - since becoming governor in 2002 to obtain and attempt to obtain financial benefits for himself, his family and third parties, including his campaign committee, Friends of Blagojevich, in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment, state contracts and access to state funds. A portion of the affidavit recounts the testimony of various witnesses at Rezko's trial earlier this year.
One payoff Blago considered was a job at a union:
Two days later, in a three-way call with Harris and Advisor B, a consultant in Washington, Blagojevich and the others allegedly discussed the prospect of a three-way deal for the Senate appointment involving an organization called "Change to Win," which is affiliated with various unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)... On November 10, Blagojevich, his wife, Harris, Governor General Counsel, Advisor B and other Washington-based advisors participated at different times in a two-hour phone call in which they allegedly discussed, among other things, a deal involving the SEIU. Harris said they could work out a deal with the union and the President-elect where SEIU could help the President-elect with Blagojevich's appointment of Senate Candidate 1, while Blagojevich would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future. Also during that call, Blagojevich agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding him.
Change to Win denies any contact (link); note that that group is linked into the George Soros/Center for American Progress network.

From the complaint:
On November 6, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Spokesman. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Spokesman to leak to a particular columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, that Senate Candidate 2 is in the running for the vacant Senate seat. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, by doing this, he wanted "to send a message to the [President-elect's] people," but did not want it known that the message was from ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Spokesman discussed specific language that should be used in the Sun Times column and arguments as to why Senate Candidate 2 made sense for the vacant Senate seat. A review of this particular Sun Times column on November 7, 2008, indicates references to the specific language and arguments regarding Senate Candidate 2 as a potential candidate for the Senate seat, as discussed by ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Spokesman.
A search didn't turn up who that could be; if anyone can find that please leave a comment. Ambinder thinks it's Madigan, and the columnist is Michael Sneed (marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/12/the_blago_indictment_fun_with.php)

Blago also wanted to start a 501(c)4 organization that others would fund and he'd be employed by. And, he wanted Warren Buffett to come up with millions for it:
Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A again discussed the possibility of a 501(c)(4) organization, and ROD BLAGOJEVICH again noted that "[Senate Candidate 6]" could "do it." ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed who might be close to Senate Candidate 6 to talk with him about the issue, because ROD BLAGOJEVICH did not "want to be the one to ask something like that." Advisor A agreed to find out who is close to Senate Candidate 6.
And, it looks like the Barack Obama circle knew that Blago wanted something in exchange for appointing Jarrett:
On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with SEIU Official, who was in Washington, D.C. Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that approximately a week before this call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH met with SEIU Official to discuss the vacant Senate seat, and ROD BLAGOJEVICH understood that SEIU Official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1's interest in the Senate seat. During the conversation with SEIU Official on November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH informed SEIU Official that he had heard the President-elect wanted persons other than Senate Candidate 1 to be considered for the Senate seat. SEIU Official stated that he would find out if Senate Candidate 1 wanted SEIU Official to keep pushing her for Senator with ROD BLAGOJEVICH. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that "one thing I'd be interested in" is a 501(c)(4) organization. ROD BLAGOJEVICH explained the 501(c)(4) idea to SEIU Official and said that the 501(c)(4)could help "our new Senator [Senate Candidate 1]." SEIU Official agreed to "put that flag up and see where it goes."
There's no proof offered that the "SEIU official" then spoke with Obama's advisor Valerie Jarrett, but it is likely.

UPDATE: Expect Obama's supporters to try to help him come out of this unscathed by pointing to Blago's various Obama-directed expletives as well as his statements that Obama doesn't want to give him anything. However, who knows what would have happened if the investigation had continued?

And, from Jake Tapper (link):
But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different.

While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a "kingmaker," Axelrod said, "I know he's talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them."

There are no allegations that President-elect Obama or anyone close to him had anything to do with any of the crimes Gov. Blagojevich is accused of having committed.

In fact, there are indications that Mr. Obama and his team refused to go along with the "pay to play" way Blagojevich is accused of operating, offering only "gratitude" if the governor appointed his friend Valerie Jarrett to take his U.S. Senate seat, much to the governor's chagrin.

But there remain questions about how Blagojevich knew that Mr. Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat -- with whom was Blagojevich speaking? Did that person report the governor to the authorities?

And, it should be pointed out, Mr. Obama has a relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, having not only endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006, but having served as a top adviser to the Illinois governor in his first 2002 run for the state house.

That 2002 endorsement came at the same time that Axelrod had such serious concerns about whether Blagojevich was ready for governing he refused to work for his one-time client.
UPDATE 2: Trouble in paradise! Now, an unnamed Obama aide says about the foregoing Axelrod statement: "What the president-elect said today is correct, David Axelrod misspoke." That would seem to be moving beyond simply distancing himself from Blago and moving into "we're scared" mode.

Also, per this, other possibilities for Candidate 5 are Art Turner and Obama's partial mentor Emil Jones.

UPDATE 3: There are lists of the financial ties that bind Tony Rezko and Blago and Rezko and Barack Obama here.

Obama is calling for Blago to resign.

Brian Ross of ABC News says that Jesse Jackson Jr. is "Candidate 5".

There's a timeline here.

On the morning of 11/5, KHQA said that BHO and Blago would be meeting that afternoon; they then pulled the article, a copy of which is here On November 08, 2008 at 9:48 p.m. at Alexis Hunt from the same station said ''Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss [the Senate seat]" (link). However, an Associated Press article by Dennis Conrad - posted here at November 5, 2008 6:58 PM CST says "[Blago] said he has not yet spoken to Obama, whose timeline for resigning his Senate seat was unclear Wednesday."

UPDATE 4: Now KHQA has pulled both articles, and posted this:
KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website ConnectTristates.com. The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama’in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.

The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place. Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.
UPDATE 5: Some initial reports said the SEIU official was Andy Stern, but the New York Times says:
Several union officials in Chicago and Washington said that the service employees official approached by Mr. Harris was Tom Balanoff, the president of the union’s giant janitors’ local in Chicago and head of the union’s Illinois state council. Mr. Balanoff, one of the union officials closest to Mr. Obama, is widely seen as an aggressive, successful labor leader, who has helped unionize thousands of janitors not just in the Chicago area but also in Texas.

Luis Gutierrez made $420,000 on real estate deals with political contributors (FBI involved) - 12/08/08

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez made $420,000 on a series of speculative real estate deals, some involving political contributor and Chicago real estate developer Krzysztof Karbowski. And, the FBI is at least looking into some of Gutierrez' past activities:

Gutierrez sent a letter to Mayor Richard Daley seeking support for a controversial project built by one of the congressman's political donors who also had lent him money. The newspaper reported that federal authorities investigating zoning matters have shown interest in the Gutierrez letter... The FBI has obtained the letter Gutierrez wrote in July 2004 to Daley. Gutierrez, a former alderman and 1st Ward Democratic committeeman, wrote the letter on behalf of developer Calvin Boender. Months earlier, Boender had lent the congressman $200,000 in a land deal...

The level of interest is key, and it would be great if they're specifically trying to get Gutierrez on something.

Nitty gritty details here, and note that one of the contributors Gutierrez did a deal with was Tony Rezko, former bagman for Barack Obama.

Washington Post admits coverage tilted to Obama, doesn't admit their incredibly biased coverage for him and their lies for him - 11/08/08

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell offers "An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage" (link). Unfortunately, about the only "tilt" she admits to is in the amount of coverage. She almost completely ignores the fact that the Washington Post served as little more than an arm of the Obama campaign by lying and misleading on his behalf and by serving as the source for and amplifier of smears.

Ready for even more questionable Obama links? (Rezko's buddies) - 10/22/08

Well, then go here. Think of it this way: if Obama becomes president he's going to take the entire Democratic Party and most of our wonderful elites down with him.

Barack Obama took Rezko's money while Rezko's tenants froze in Chicago winter (-7F) - 10/14/08

Around Christmas, 2006 1996 the low temperature in Chicago was just three degrees Fahrenheit. Over the New Year there was a "heat wave", and it warmed up to a low of 26F. But, the next week it fell to a low of -2F. The next week it was even worse: a low of -7F. You don't need a Weatherman to tell you that with the wind chill in a city like Chicago it can feel much, much colder. Which brings us to this cheery holiday tale featuring Barack Obama from April 23, 2007:
For more than five weeks during the brutal winter of 1997, tenants shivered without heat in a government-subsidized apartment building on Chicago's South Side.

It was just four years after the landlords -- Antoin "Tony'' Rezko and his partner Daniel Mahru -- had rehabbed the 31-unit building in Englewood with a loan from Chicago taxpayers.

Rezko and Mahru couldn't find money to get the heat back on.

But their company, Rezmar Corp., did come up with $1,000 to give to the political campaign fund of Barack Obama, the newly elected state senator whose district included the unheated building...
The heat was turned off from December 27, 1996 to early February 1997. The city eventually stepped in and sued to get the heat turned back on (link). Seasons Greetings.

"Iraqi Billionaire Threatens Reporters Investigating Rezko Affair" (Nadhmi Auchi) - 10/12/08

From this:
Why aren't the American media investigating the role of British billionaire businessman Nadhmi Auchi in supplying loans to Barack Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko? Some point to media bias, but there is another factor. Working for Auchi, who was born in Iraq, attorneys from London law firm Carter-Ruck have for several months been flooding American and British newspapers and websites with letters demanding removal of material they deem "defamatory" to their client...

...The Obama campaign recently issued a non-denial denial in response to claims that Obama met with Auchi―contained in Jerome Corsi's bestseller, The Obama Nation. They cited only two references. One is, "Mr. Auchi's lawyer" who told the February 27, 2008 London Evening Standard, "As far as he can remember he has had no direct contact with Mr. Obama." Another is, "A lawyer for Auchi, Alasdair Pepper" who says, according to the April 16, 2008 Washington Post, "Auchi Had ‘No Recollection' Of Meeting Obama or Michelle." Alasdair Pepper is the attorney whose name appears on the Carter-Ruck demand letters...

Does Andrew Sullivan support accountability for Barack Obama too? - 10/05/08

Sully links to this video of Margaret Thatcher being grilled by a regular citizen during the Falklands War as, of course, a way to criticize Sarah Palin:

The horrifying sequestering of Sarah Palin from a press conference and anything like this kind of public interrogation is a scandal.

Of course, what Sully fails to note is that Barack Obama has been "sequestered" since he started running for president around two years ago. That's the main scandal: the front-runner for president of the U.S. has only very rarely been asked slightly tough questions, has never to my knowledge been called to his face on even just one of his lies, and as far as I know not a single "reporter" has tried to hold him accountable for the hugely obvious flaws in his policies. Instead, the mainstream media has repeatedly lied on his behalf and, when they weren't doing that has thrown him extremely puffball questions. The one or two times when "reporters" came close to doing their jobs, he didn't respond too well (asked about Rezko, answers some questions, flees room; March 4, 2008; link).

I am absolutely positive that Andrew Sullivan is intellectually honest and doesn't want to suffer from cognitive dissonance. So, I am absolutely positive that Sully will use his platform to urge "reporters" to finally call BHO on his lies, his misleading and incomplete statements, and the glaring flaws in his policies and get an answer from him.

Anything less would reveal Sully to be nothing more than a delusional, obsequious toady, so I have no doubt he'll rush to take the media and Barack Obama to task. I also look forward to Sully urging his readers to go out and ask Obama all the questions that the MSM has so far failed to ask him.

Let Sully's new rallying cry be: 'End Obama's "sequestration"!'

P.S. Sully also presents the video as a lesson "to remind American voters what a real democracy sounds like". Thanks! We Yanks certainly do appreciate a foreign citizen - someone who isn't able to vote in our elections but is trying to influence them - telling us what to do and reminding us of the errors of our ways.

UPDATE: I sent a trackback and several hours later it hasn't appeared. There are certainly innocent explanations for that, such as Sully never bothering to check incoming pings, a technical problem, etc. Or, he realizes as much as everyone else does that if he allowed people to talk back to him he'd be quickly discredited. (Note: past attempts to send pings using the Wizbang online version failed, so I wrote a little snippet of code to use this. It said the ping had succeeded.)

FactCheck looks, can't find "Chicago Way" (McCain Obama ad) - 09/23/08

Viveca Novak and Justin Bank of Fact Check offer "Guilt and Associations/McCain once again tries to tar Obama with the controversies of others" about the John McCain ad "Chicago Machine" (factcheck.org/elections-2008/guilt_and_associations.html). The ad links Barack Obama to William Daley, Emil Jones, Tony Rezko, Rod Blagojevich. Per them, the first isn't dirty, the second is only a little dirty, and there's no evidence that BHO was involved in any funny business with the last two.

Barack Obama misleads, smears Middle America - 04/11/08

Speaking in San Francisco at a fundraiser for the wealthy (and in Marin County no less; pictures of his tour here), Barack Obama smeared Pennsylvanians and others by saying:

Memo on Barack Obama senior advisor's meeting with Canadian government on NAFTA (Austan Goolsbee) - 03/03/08

As previously discussed, Barack Obama senior economic policy advisor Austan Goolsbee discussed the candidate's position on NAFTA with Canadian government officials, supposedly letting them know that his anti-NAFTA statements were simply political posturing. Now, a Canadian government memo on the meeting has been released, despite previous denials of such a meeting having taken place. A roundup of the various Clintonian-style denials is here and here.

For instance, on February 29, Goolsbee said "It is a totally inaccurate story... I did not call these people and I direct you to the press office."

Now, let's turn to the memo:
"[Goolsbee] was frank in saying that the primary campaign has been necessarily domestically focused, particularly in the Midwest, and that much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy... On NAFTA, Goolsbee suggested that Obama is less about fundamentally changing the agreement and more in favour of strengthening/clarifying language on labour mobility and environment and trying to establish these as more 'core' principles of the agreement...

...Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign... He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."
Goolsbee, now admitting that the meeting took place, says they've mischaracterized his comments. There's certainly the possibility that he could be right: the Canadian government might be attempting to harm Obama's chances by releasing an inaccurate memo. That needs to be considered.

But, the fact that both Goolsbee and the Obama campaign haven't exactly been straightforward about this issue, and the fact that in general Obama is more or less a fake, carry more weight.

UPDATE: The tale of competing people who can't be trusted continues, as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says, "I certainly deny any allegation that this government has attempted to interfere in the American election". And, the Canadian Consulate says:
The Canadian Embassy and our Consulates General regularly contact those involved in all of the Presidential campaigns and, periodically, report on these contacts to interested officials. In the recent report produced by the Consulate General in Chicago, there was no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private, including about NAFTA. We deeply regret any inference that may have been drawn to that effect.
UPDATE 2: For perhaps the first time ever, the MSM has decided to ask Obama some tough questions. Why they'd start doing it now is unknown. However, he was asked not just about NAFTAGate but about his links to Tony Rezko as well, and it's now being presented as him "tangling" with the press who asked him a "barrage of questions" (link). There's video here.

UPDATE 3: A CBC report is here. Per the reporter, "the Canadian Embassy reviewed the diplomatic cable which was sent and acknowledges that they might have misrepresented the advisor". Who to trust?

UPDATE 4: "The Leader of Canada's New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, called today for the resignation of the Canadian Prime Minister's Chief of Staff over improper intervention in the US Democratic Primary race." The video here includes an unctuous reply from Stephen Harper.

Dirt on Barack Obama: Exelon, Tony Rezko, William Ayers, Rashid Khalidi - 02/17/08

The Queen's minions have been busy digging up dirt on the Man of Hope. First up is Larry Johnson with this warning about Barack Obama's links to three questionable figures: Tony Rezko, William Ayers, and Rashid Khalidi. The first will go on trial later this month, the second is a self-admitted terrorist, the third an alleged "PLO activist".

Earlier this month, the New York Times offered "Nuclear leaks, response tested Obama in Senate". Nuclear plants run by Exelon Corporation in Illinois leaked radioactive materials into the groundwater. Obama highlighted legislation he supported that required plants to notify authorities when even minor leaks occur, and he boasted about it in his infamous speeches:
A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks... Those revisions propelled the bill through a crucial committee. But, contrary to Mr. Obama’s comments in Iowa, it ultimately died amid parliamentary wrangling in the full Senate.
As NBC's Lisa Myers reports here, employees of Exelon are Obama's fourth-largest contributor, having given him $269,000. Taylor Marsh has more here.

UPDATE: More dirt here:
In his books, Obama admits attending "socialist conferences" and coming into contact with Marxist literature. But he ridicules the charge of being a "hard-core academic Marxist," which was made by his colorful and outspoken 2004 U.S. Senate opponent, Republican Alan Keyes.

However, through [his childhood mentor] Frank Marshall Davis, Obama had an admitted relationship with someone who was publicly identified as a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). The record shows that Obama was in Hawaii from 1971-1979, where, at some point in time, he developed a close relationship, almost like a son, with Davis, listening to his "poetry" and getting advice on his career path. But Obama, in his book, Dreams From My Father, refers to him repeatedly as just "Frank."

The reason is apparent: Davis was a known communist who belonged to a party subservient to the Soviet Union. In fact, the 1951 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii identified him as a CPUSA member. What’s more, anti-communist congressional committees, including the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), accused Davis of involvement in several communist-front organizations...
UPDATE 2: Here are even more Obama issues.

Illinois gov. Rod Blagojevich now part of FBI's "pay-to-play" corruption investigation - 12/22/07

From this:
Federal prosecutors for the first time brought their corruption investigation to the desk of Gov.