Media ignored Guv's party today, but also links to Rezko corruption and Barack Obama and his chief strategist David Axelrod during presidential campaign.
As folks in Illinois were waking up or just getting to work, news hit like an avalanche that Governor Rod Blagojevich had been taken into custody by federal authorities this morning. The news was flying hot and heavy, and still is, over what the feds are alleging that Blago (as we call him in Chicago) did. There are reports of wiretaps, solicitations for bribes, mail and wire fraud... the list is long and shocking.
But one thing seems to be missing from many of these news reports. You guessed it, the fact that Blago is a Democrat seems to have slipped under the radar. But also his connections to Obama and his associates has continually gone unnoticed.
Now, as usual, we cannot really smack around the home papers or TV reports. After all, people in Chicago and Illinois already know that their governor is a Democrat. But it is the news wires and outlets outside Illinois that should be questioned.
So, what did Blago do to get snapped up by the feds?
As of now, it concerns Blago's choice for a replacement for Obama's Senate seat. Apparently Blago had some pay back in mind from whomever he was to appoint. The feds are alleging that he wanted...
- a substantial salary for himself at either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;
- a spot for his wife on paid corporate boards, where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
- promises of campaign funds -- including cash up front;
- a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.
... and that is all they are saying now. There is probably more to come.
We know it's worse than that. In Chicago we have been informed that Blago has been under the cloud of an indictment for at least a year. The feds had what they were calling "Public Official A" in their sites for quite a while and no one in the state doubted that the "A" was spelled "Rod Blagojevich."
Blagojevich has been linked to some very shady business deals with convicted back room wheeler-dealer and corruption merchant Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Just recently we'd also found out that federal officials had admitted that they had incriminating taped phone calls with Blago, too. (Check out Obama's link to Rezko, too.)
Blagojevich is also a close associate of Barack Obama and Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod.
Few national media outlets, though, ever mentioned the thicket of corruption that Blago had been wallowing in, nor that he was linked to Obama, Rezko, or Axelrod. All throughout the election as everyone in Illinois knew how corrupt he was, not a word of it seemed to be brought out in the national media during Obama's campaign. It was as if the media thought Obama had never even met Blago.
Yes, the media is doing a bang up job!
Here are some of the highlights... or lowlights as the case may be, of Blago's suspected corruption.
"This Year's Federal Trial Of Blagojevich Fundraiser Antoin 'Tony' Rezko Included Allegations Of Similar Things Going On Around Blagojevich's Administration. Testimony Alleged That Blagojevich Associates Sought A Political Donation From A Contractor In Exchange For A Promise Of State Business. Blagojevich Himself Hasn't Been Accused Of Wrongdoing." (Kevin McDermott, "Much Riding On Ethics Bill On Governor's Desk," The [Bloomington, IL] Pantagraph, 8/8/08)
Gov. Blagojevich: "Tony Rezko Is A Friend Who Helped Me. He Helped Sen. [Barack] Obama. He Helped [Illinois Attorney General] Lisa Madigan. … He Helped All Kinds Of Political Figures." (Chris Fusco and Mitch Dudek, "Gov Boils Over At Corruption Talk," Chicago Sun-Times, 7/4/08)
"Rezko, Whose Prodigious Fundraising Helped To Bankroll The Campaigns Of Sen. Barack Obama And Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Was Convicted Of 18 Counts Of Fraud And Other Offenses Involving The Use Of Influence In State Government To Squeeze Companies Seeking To Do Business With The State For Kickbacks." (Mike Robinson, "Rezko Lawyers Want Wife To Keep Money," The Associated Press, 7/17/08)
"That Year, [Obama] 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." (Ryan Lizza, "Making It," The New Yorker, 7/21/08)
"Obama, Who Endorsed Blagojevich For A Second Term Nearly 18 Months Ago, Said He's Ready To Help Illinois Democrats In The Upcoming Elections." (John Patterson, "Senator Says He's Still Willing To Help Blagojevich Despite Hiring Concerns," Chicago Daily Herald, 7/27/06)
There is an intricate and deep web of corruption that surrounds Illinois politics. We already have our last Governor, George Ryan (Republican), in jail at this time. He was jailed for bribery and for selling Illinois drivers licenses for campaign cash. From this illegal action, many truck drivers got licenses they did not qualify for. Ryan and Blago are part of what many Chicagoans call "the Combine." The Combine is the close and corrupt intermingling of both major parties. In Illinois is is widely considered true that the state's Democrats and Republicans are absolutely indistinguishable. Both fill each other's pockets with the public's cash on a regular basis. But, because of the corruption of Chicago, the Democrats have institutionalized it to the enth degree.
Now the rest of the nation is getting a small taste of Illinois politics. It's business as usual, sadly.