Tuesday, December 09, 2008

From Blago to O: Watch it happen! Plus: Is Biden's son involved? (Updates 1, 2, 3, 4 -- JJ Jr. may jaunt to the joint! )

And now it starts. Watch and see: A baseball bat is about to slam the Democratic party right in the face -- and on that bat, these words are written: OBAMA SLEAZE.

Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois -- identified in previous posts as Obama's partner in corruption -- has been arrested. Here is the indictment.

A wiretap caught him in the act of trying to sell Obama's soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat. He also stands accused of trying to rake in as much pay-for-play money as possible before new a new ethics law kicks in. He also tried to strongarm the Chicago Tribune into canning an anti-Blago editor. (The Tribune needs the Governor's help in order to go forward with the sale of Wrigley Field, owned by the Trib.)

Before continuing, let us amuse ourselves by checking out the Cheeto reaction. From a Kos post:
This is whitewater all over.
Blagojevich is innocent Kossaks. These charges are bullshit.
...what we have here is another Don Siegelman case.
"Whitewater," eh? Gee. Weren't the Kossacks themselves recently guilty of resurrecting every single long-since-discredited Whitewater smear? Mark my words: The Cheeto brigade -- and the entire Democratic party -- will one day come to understand how thoroughly they have been misled by Markos Malicious, the king of Clinton-Hate.

Most Kossack posts on this topic are not nearly so delusional, although some of the commenters are. Prepare thyself to laugh -- and this one's a true gutbuster:
Go gettem Fitz!

Time to take out the trash. How in the world did Obama come out of the cesspool of Chicago politics so clean?
Oh jeez. Oh jeez. It's so sad to encounter a poor, deluded bastard who refuses to read a single article that does not flatter his preferred hallucinations.

Of course, TPM has been attracting some towering intellects as well:
I'm reading this stuff, and so far I have seen nothing to substantiate the charges in what Fitzgerald made public.
The main TPM article tries to imply that Fitz has cleared Obama. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Look at the facts, people:

How was Blago caught? Wiretaps.

Why were investigators allowed to wiretap a sitting governor? Obviously, because Blago was named by Tony Rezko, who ran afoul of the "Board Games" inquiry. The indictment, by FBI agent Daniel Cain, makes clear in paragraph 2 that the Rezko investigation led to the wiretaps.

And why was Blago arrested now, on other (more recent) corruption charges, before a complete case could be brought against him on the Board Games matter? Why did the arrest occur before the choice of senator-elect, before the pay-off money for that appointment actually exchanged hands? Two possible (linked) reasons spring to mind:

1. Fitz wants to pressure Blago into testifying against an even bigger fish. Right now, the only bigger fish is Obama.

2. Fitz wanted to haul in Blago before the transition of power. After this arrest, if Obama quickly replaces Fitzgerald, the stench of rat will become so overpowering as to penetrate even a Kossack's nostrils. If Obama shuts down the investigation, he'll be as villified as Nixon was after the Saturday Night Massacre.

So what would Fitzgerald want Blago to talk about? Oh, gosh -- any number of things. You can read about them in Evelyn Pringle's work. Here's one very important, very basic matter that I've mentioned in this column before -- a fine bit-o-sleaze that all of the pro-O "progressive" bloggers have, so far, refused to acknowledge:

SENATE BILL 1332

There is a specter haunting the Democratic Party, and that specter is Illinois State Senate Bill 1332. Why is that bill so important? Allow a bit of self-quotation:
Sarah Palin got it wrong. She said that Barack Obama has authored two autobiographies but no legislation. He stood behind one terribly important piece of legislation during his time in the Illinois State Senate, although he may not have penned the exact words.

Senate Bill 1332.

Remember that number. Bring it up anytime someone asks why you have the crazy idea that Barack Obama is corrupt.

Senate Bill 1332 was Obama's baby. The legislation -- completely unneeded, from the standpoint of the public -- reduced the state's hospital board from 15 to 9, and insured that the corrupt governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, would control the board which controlled a huge pile of public funds.
The corrupt members appointed included three doctors who contributed to Obama.
The first order of business concerned a hospital which experts said was not needed...
That would be Edward Hospital. Board member Stuart Levine -- who was appointed by a previous Republican administration, but who soon transferred his affections to Blago -- asked the folks who wanted to build that hospital to send him a stiff kickback. And the money did not just go to Levine -- it went, via straw donors, to Democratic candidates who were part of Blago's cartel.

Favors like that explain why Blago made sure Levine could stay on that board after his term expired in 2004.

Was Obama one of the recipients of that money? In all likelihood, yes. Of course, he can claim (as his blinkered supporters surely will) that he didn't know that the money was dirty. That's why straw donors exist: Plausible deniability.

Levine pled guilty and became a star witness at the trial of his former partner, Tony Rezko. Rezko -- as we have established beyond the point of rational debate -- was Obama's mentor and partner throughout Obama's career in Chicago politics.

True, Obama was not the author of 1332, but no-one pushed for the bill harder. The thing simply would not have passed without his tireless work.

Keep in mind that the bill was entirely unneeded from the standpoint of the public good. It existed for one purpose: To line the pockets of Governor Blagojevich and his cronies.

All that is necessary to make the case against Obama is for Blagojevich to admit that which is already apparent to anyone unhypnotized by Barack-mania: Obama pushed for the passage of Senate Bill 1332 to help line the pockets of the Governor (who was then considering a run for the presidency) and his comrades -- a group which included Obama himself.

Not only that. Senate Bill 1332 was only one part of the sleaze in Illinois. Obama was up to his armpits in corruption.

Will Blagojevich talk? That's the key question.

Blago was pissed because Obama wanted "senate candidate 1" to take his seat but would not pony up any dough. Blago's exact phrasing:
...the FBI says it heard Blagojevich complain he has to give this "motherf***er [the president-elect] his senator. F*** him. For nothing? F*** him."

The governor is heard saying he will pick another candidate "before I just give f***ing [Senate Candidate l] a f***ing Senate seat and I don't get anything."
Obviously, Obama couldn't do so: He's under the microscope at present, what with being president-elect and all, and he probably had sense enough to understand that Fitz would get a wiretap. This refusal to pay up as president-elect hardly exonerates Obama for his activities as state senator. The Obots who claim that their man has been cleared are self-deluded.

By the way, note this:
Blagojevich also sought a high paying job for his wife, according to the FBI. "Is there a play here, with these guys, with her" to work for a firm in Washington or New York, he reportedly asked.

The FBI affidavit said Blagojevich had been told by an adviser "the president-elect can get Rod Blagojevich's wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the president-elect's pick to the Senate."
Sounds like a bribe to me.

Blagojevich's current antipathy toward Obama may loosen his lips. On the other hand, he surely must understand that a President Obama would be a powerful ally.

Begging for Mercy: Another aspect of the Hospital Board scandal, I am sorry to say, may bring Joe Biden's son into this mess. Please underline the word "may."

This is from the indictment, paragraph 35 -- under the heading "Corruption of the Planning Board":
As described more fully in following paragraphs, Mercy Hospital, which sought permission fromt he Planning Board to build a hosptial in Illinois, received that permission through Rezko's exercise of his influence at the Planning Board after Rezko was promised that Mercy Hosptial would make a substantial campaign contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Rezko later told a member of the Planning Board that Mercy Hosptial received the permit because ROD BLAGOJEVICH wanted the organization to receive the permit.
Paragraph 38 (Nota bene: CON means "Certificate of Need," a necessary document issued by the Board.)
During his testimony, Levine described a plan to manipulate the Planning Board to enrich himself and Friends of Blagojevich. The plan centered on an entity commonly known as Mercy Hospital ("Mercy") that was attempting to obtain a CON to build a nw hospital in Illinois. Levine knew the contractor hired to help build the hospital. In approximately November 2003, on behalf of the contractor, Levine checked with Rezko to determine whether Rezko wanted Mercy to obtain its CON. Rezko informed Levine that Mercy was not going to receive its CON. According to Levine, he asked Rezko whether it would matter to Rezko if Mercy's construction contractor paid a bribe to Rezko and Levine and, in addition, made a contribution to ROB BLAGOJEVICH. Levine testified that Rezko indicated that such an arrangement would change his view on the Mercy CON.
Long story short: Mercy made the pay-off to Blago, and got the necessary CON. (Note that Rezko, who held no elective or appointed office, is the prime mover behind this public board. Rezko was also the man who started Obama's career. And yet Rezko claimed that he was nearly bankrupt at this time.)

Paragraph 41 of the indictment:
Mercy received its CON as a result of a controversial and irregular vote at a public planning board meeting... Rezko stated: "The Governor wanted it to pass."
Okay (you must be saying), I get it. So a pay-off occurred. How do Obama and Biden figure into it?

This Washington Post article, published on August 27, 2008, reveals that Hunter Biden -- the Veep-elect's son -- is a lobbyist. One of his clients is Mercy Hospital. The primary person he lobbied was Senator Obama. And the lobbying was successful -- Mercy got millions, despite Obama's public denunciations of earmarks.
"Hunter Biden met with the Obama Senate office, not with Senator Obama," Wade said. "It's hardly surprising that a Senator from Illinois would fight for investments in Mercy Hospital, Thorek Hospital and St. Xavier University right in Illinois, or that he'd be joined in that effort by a Republican colleague, Representative Judy Biggert."
"Wade" is David Wade, an Obama campaign spokesperson. His blandishments seem less soothing now that we know that Mercy willingly participated in the pay-to-play scheme, and that Obama's cronies Rezko and Blagojevich were getting loot from Mercy.

(I do not yet have information regarding Thorek Hospital and St. Xavier University, but right now, any linkage to that crooked Hospital board must be considered toxic.)

Incidentally
-- if you read the indictment with some care, you'll catch a whiff of the current state of Tony Rezko's gabbiness. Bottom line: He has not yet said all, but he has said a fair amount, and he is obviously feeling a great deal of pressure.

Fitz now has a month-and-a-half to get Rezko and Blago to rat out Obama.

Much more to come. I'll be very amused to read commentators on Obot blogs who want to believe that none of this will touch their Messiah. It's getting darker, my Obot friends, and your whistling is getting increasingly desperate...

UPDATE: Fox News (yeah, I know) got a tip off that Blago contacted Obama chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel regarding the Senate seat. This info has been interpreted in more than one way. Some are saying -- wrongly, in my opinion -- that Emmanuel tipped off the FBI. No evidence supports that idea: The indictment says that the FBI learned everything from wiretaps.

The other possibility -- which I favor -- is that Rahm was the "go between" guy who offered Blago the bribe involving a cushy job for Blago's wife. If this scandal does not destroy Obama, it may at least stop Emmanuel.

UPDATE 2: Blago also had another price for giving Obama his senate pick. He wanted Obama to name him Secretary of Health and Human Services. Of course, Blago was far too poisonous to be chosen for that job, but the dumb bastard was too arrogant to admit that fact, even to himself. Rahm may have been part of that back-and-forth.

UPDATE 3: Some amusing tidbits from Hot Air: Blago's approval rating is four (4) percent. Nevertheless, he thought he could remake his image in time for a 2016 White House run.
A belated thought: Is this the single dumbest racket ever attempted by a major politician? He knew the U.S. Attorney was investigating him, he knew he couldn’t trust his cronies — and yet he was still willing to talk openly about selling a seat in the United States Senate?
Republicans may be as sleazy or sleazier, but man -- they aren't this stupid.

Incidentally, speculation has it that Jesse Jackson Jr. Senate candidate #5. Candidate 1 (Obama's pick) was female, probably Valerie Jarrett.

UPDATE 4: It's starting look pretty firm that Senate Candidate #5 -- the one offering "something tangible up front" -- is Jesse Jackson Jr.
As recently as Dec. 4, in separate conversations with Advisor B and Fundraiser A, Blagojevich said that he was “elevating” Senate Candidate 5 on the list of candidates because, among other reasons, if Blagojevich ran for re-election, Senate Candidate 5 would “raise money” for him.

Blagojevich said that he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided Blagojevich with something “tangible up front.”

Noting that he was going to meet with Senate Candidate 5 in the next few days, Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to reach out to an intermediary (Individual D), from whom Blagojevich is attempting to obtain campaign contributions and who Blagojevich believes is close to Senate Candidate 5.

Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that Senate Candidate 5 was a very realistic candidate but Blagojevich was getting a lot of pressure not to appoint Senate Candidate 5, according to the affidavit.
All of this tends to point to JJ Jr. Note the date: December 4. Now note this story, from December 8:
Following a 90-minute audition meeting today with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. said he was confident in the process the governor is using to make his choice for a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama.
Jackson has mounted the most highly visible campaign among several people who are being considered for the Senate post. He said the meeting with Blagojevich amounted to a “very productive conversation, very thoughtful” that covered a broad range of issues.

“I am convinced that the governor has a very thoughtful process that he has put in place and is wrestling and weighing a number of issues in this enormous decision that he has to make,” Jackson said.
Well, he was certainly weighing a number.

On Dec. 4, Blago said that he would meet with Candidate Five within a few days. The ONLY candidate he met with during that time period was Jesse Jackson Jr. -- the man who insulted Hillary so disgustingly during the primaries.
Comments:
The Obot trolls are pimping a quote by Blago that Obama wasn't willing to "pay to play" in order to name his successor.

That doesn't mean Obama is honest, it only means he is too cheap to pay up (or worried about getting caught in the investigation)

Expecting to find an honest politician in Chicago is like looking for a virgin in a whorehouse.
 
A most excellent post Joseph. Very enlightening, very detailed. I hope beyond hope that Obama really was "clean" but know better.

I am glad that you can wade through the cesspool and stench of KOS & TPM. I went there a few days ago just to check it out again and quickly had to go take a shower. Definitely don't go there without having your nose plugged.
 
See http://www.southtownstar.com/news/miller/1320476,120908miller.articleprint, "If the feds have Wyma, who needs Rezko?" Fitzgerald has a much closer inside source.
 
No evidence? How about the guy's own words..on tape..incriminating himself big time...over and over and over again.

Blago has the biggest mouth in politics - he can't seem to stop himself.


BTW...I saw Fitzgerald on TV and I would vote for him for POTUS in a heartbeat. He is so articulate. So thorough. So good at explaining things. AND he looks like he is "squeaky clean" ethically.
 
"Fitz now has a month-and-a-half to get Rezko and Blago to rat out Obama."

He has whatever time he needs.

Spiro T. Agnew, sitting VP was indicted in 1973, his fifth year in office by the United States Attorney’s office in Baltimore, Maryland, on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy.

Agnew plea bargained to one charge, on condition he resign his office.
 
This is TOO good.

I think I'm in love with you.
 
Lust after Fitz. That sort of thing used to be fairly common around here.
 
Joseph,

I pretty much stopped following DailyKos when it became then centre of Clinton hate, but I took your advice to "check.. out the Cheeto reaction" and followed the diary link you gave. What I found was somewhat worrying - while the diary does indeed reflect what you said, overall the comments very clearly do not support the diarist at all.

The "cheeto reaction" would seem not to be what you're implying it is. I know you've been waiting for this Joseph, but please try to keep a semi-level head.
 
If Blago wanted a Cabinet position he must have been trying to negotiate with somebody.

Just because the conversations weren't picked up by wiretaps or bugs doesn't mean they didn't take place.
 
You have been a busy, busy man, Joseph!

Thanks. You've got me singing the old classics:

It's beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas....
 
Fitz doesn't have the indictment yet, the presscon was to send out a clear message, unencrypted: he needs material witnesses to some actual crimes (all he has now is conspiracy), meaning he's offering immunity, reduced sentencing, amnesty, and protection. We are now waiting while negotiations at the highest levels take place, n'est-ce pas? While everyone has to talk as if the whole world is listening. Any links to the theory that Blago's election was fixed so he could be set up to swim in the barrel? Noir - there's no other word.

Anyone think Fitz and the FBI acted like Cassius and Brutus?
 
Anon, I don't understand what you are trying to say here. Conspiracy is an actual crime and it is a hell of a lot better to arrest someone for conspiracy rather than let them carry out the intended crime.

Just imagine if your spouse or significant other decided to have you bumped off, police intercept it but don't arrest them until after you get bumped off. How would you feel about that?

How would you feel if they just let Blagojevich appoint someone to the US Senate that paid him cash? They would either have to let it go leaving 2 criminals in office or they'd have to arrest 2 people in office. Seems ridiculous to me.

Blagojevich needed to be arrested ASAP and he needs to go to trial and be convicted if guilty. Imagine the damage that can be done to the state of Illinois as well as our country by leaving corrupt people in office.

I don't care what party or what ideology somebody subscribes to. I want every corrupt politician to go to jail. The sooner the better.
 
Good article Joe.....
For the readers some things are starting to come together now but they haven't seen anything yet!

Fasten your seats belts!

Marty Didier
Northbrook, IL
 
The horror AKA Drudge has a little link to the October story about Mr Kenneth J Conner suing Mutual Bank for firing him and screwing with the appraisals on the Rezko/Obama house deal. Drudge's link says "Grand Jury subpoenas issued on Rezko/Obama land deal". If true this is probably the linchpin tying all of it together. Bank fraud to benefit a politician is a bad thing. This would indicate that Fitz is still pursuing the house deal and wants all the paperwork, testimony, et al to give to the grand jury. This is not over and saying Fitz has declared Obama innocent is baloney and spin.
 
Ohhhhhhh, please let there be more than rumor and have that brat JJ Jr indicted!

I want Michelle taken down in that house deal, too. She sat on the land board that carved up the historic property in the first place.
 
Joseph, re your third update, I am unable to find the Sun-Times article referred to in paragraph 97 of Cain's affidavit:

"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."

Who is candidate no. 2? I don't think it's JJ Jr. as it seems that is Obama's pick.

gregoryp, the two counts are 1) conspiracy to commit fraud and 2) theft or bribery, and you are correct - the affidavit cites what has occurred, the wiretaps are the evidence. What remains to be seen is if Blago will get the same deal Rezko got for singing.
 
You and others have made it sound as if the governor's ability to appoint the members of the board was new with Illinois SB1332. Not true.
6/1/2003
"The bill reduces the number of members of the Board from its current fifteen voting members to nine voting members and provides that no more than five members of the board may be from the same political party. The members continue to be appointed by the Governor and will serve for three-year staggered terms."
http://www.mcguirewoods.com/news-resources/news/736.asp?SearchFor=1332


And contra what is said in your post it was needed.

"In the late hours of the 93rd General Assembly’s spring session, both Houses of the Illinois legislature approved a bill which, assuming it hurdles the last obstacle-the Governor’s desk-preserves health planning in Illinois. Based on the June 9, 2000 enactment of Senate Bill 807, the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act was scheduled for repeal on July 1, 2003. The approval of SB 1332 by both Houses of the General Assembly, however, extends such repeal or "sunset" until July 1, 2008, and amends both the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act and the Hospital Licensing Act. Additionally, the bill makes several procedural changes and substantive changes to both Acts."
 
Actually, people should question the TIMING of this. It may be the Republicans are throwing a hissy fit that stuff hasn't YET hit Obama, but they want to steal an open Senate seat by getting rid of the governor, who would be appointing a Democrat. Fitzgerald isn't exactly nonpartisan.

Things are NEVER what they appear to be.
 
Oh? What is meant by "health planning in Illinois" and why was it so desperately needed? Sounds like Joseph had it right.

Joseph, thanks for this brief but comprehensive summary. Really helps to tie all the strands together.
 
And, I might add, with Blago out of the way, the GOP could steal an open governorship.

I am no fan of Obama, but we need to look at the WHOLE picture. Fitzgerald isn't exactly on our side.
 
This is a great post. I appreciate your timely work on this!
 
Susan, supposing you are correct and I don't think you are what difference does it make whether or not this was a political move. Blagojevich got caught red handed. Harris got caught red handed. Obama's advisers got caught red handed. No getting around those facts. Read the complaint.

There is going to be multiple felony indictments here. Probably multiple felony convictions. Blagojevich is going to plead guilty for a reduced sentence. He has no leg to stand on.

I don't care if this was politically motivated or not. Public corruption is public corruption.

And what exactly is our side? I thought our side was having government that works for the people of this country. Just because we are liberals don't mean we should turn our back when other supposed liberals rob the chicken coop.

Until we get rid of corruption how can we get any of our agenda enacted in a way that benefits the people of this country. What we will continue to get is cronie capitalism, sleazy backroom deals, wasted taxpayer dollars, earmarks, and pay to play politics. It has got to stop.
 
You should stop confusing facts with wishes. Like usual, you don't have any facts, your post are a collection of wishes.

"Obama wasn't willing to "pay to play" in order to name his successor.

That doesn't mean Obama is honest, it only means he is too cheap to pay up (or worried about getting caught in the investigation)"


and that comment only means you're a fucking bigot. It's the black man in the sport car: it's impossible he honestly paid for it. Even if you don't have any facts, it's simply impossible because you know it, they are like this, they are all thief...
 
Run on back to Cheeto-ville, "anon" ---or should we say, Obama-fluffer.

We're sick and tired of your skanky old rag doll of calling people "racist."

And, uh, yeah. The Obamas would NOT have been able to afford their mansion had Michelle not gotten that political perk of a 6 figure raise, and had not sat on the land board and carved that historical property up, and had not had Obama crony Rezko have his cronies pony up so his wife could front the deal.
 
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