Friday, December 12, 2008

Jackson Allies Held Blagoyevich Fundraiser Saturday Night

The Chicago Tribune has a very damaging story today linking close allies of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. to the pay-to-play deal to purchase the Illinois Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. See also this story in the Sun-Times. According to the report, businessmen within the Indian-American community with close ties to both Blagoyevich and Jackson organized a fundraiser for the governor which took place Saturday night in Elmhurst after an earlier fundraising luncheon on October 31. At that October luncheon at the India House in Schaumberg, the Tribune learned that attendees believed the fundraiser would boost the chances of Jackson being appointed to the Senate seat. Federal investigators raided two businesses owned by one of the attendees of the fundraiser just last week, Joliet businessman Harish Bhatt. That meeting resulted in the second fundraiser held Saturday night in Elmhurst at which Jackson's brother, Jonathan Jackson, and Blagoyevich were in attendance. On Monday, a day before the governor's arrest, Rep. Jackson met with the the governor at his Chicago office to discuss the Senate appointment.

This latest development looks very bad for Jackson. According to news reports yesterday in Chicago, Jackson's father, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., has also lawyered up. Rep. Jackson's attorney suggests to the Tribune that any discussions linking fundraising to the Senate seat appointment may have been discussed without his client's blessing. While some attendees deny they attended the fundraiser as a way of boosting Jackson's chances, others saw it differently. Here's the most damaging item in the story:

One said Nayak and Bedi told him and others of their plan to help Jackson.

The second said he overheard Nayak and Bedi discussing plans with Bhatt, the Joliet pharmacist.."

Raghu said he needed to raise a million for Rod to make sure Jesse got the seat," the second businessman said. "

He said, 'I can raise half of it, $500,000.' The idea was that the other two would help raise the rest."

Bhatt, whose two Basinger's Pharmacy outlets were searched by the FBI last week, has been the focus of a state and federal investigations into whether campaign donations were made in exchange for regulatory favors.

Bhatt is a prominent Indian businessman who helped the state's top pharmacy regulator win his job. The Tribune reported last year that state pharmacy auditors probing allegations of Medicaid fraud at Basinger's complained that their bosses thwarted the investigation, allegations Bhatt has adamantly denied in interviews with the Tribune.


Anonymous said...

I'm a Democrat, and I believe that Blagoyevich should be punished severely for this if found guilty.

I also don't have a lot of love for Jesse Jackson or Jr., but the fact is that we live in a system where the accused is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a jury of peers, and that has yet to happen, and since the media is making such a ruckus about this, it may be hard to find an impartial jury.

I do find it interesting that a US attorney appointed by a Republican (I believe) chose this particular moment to pounce, seems like they intend to discredit Barack Obama through guilt by association if nothing else.

Don't get me wrong, I hate Bush, I've always hated Bush, but I at least keep my mouth shut til he did start screwing things up, the Republicans seem to want to skewer Mr. Obama before he has a chance to do anything.

What ever happened to courtesy?

Gary R. Welsh said...

There are Republicans similarly complaining that Fitzgerald didn't move on this case before the election. Some argue he had the evidence to indict the governor, if not Obama as well regarding his 2005 land deal with Rezko, months ago.

Mike Kole said...

Not a Republican myself, but many of my Republican friends are determined to give Obama as 'cozy' a start to his Administration as many Democrats gave Bush in January 2001. You surely remember partisan Democrats arguing 'stolen election', do you not? And the 'W's being popped out of White House keyboards on the Clinton Administration's exit? These things are well Remembered by Republicans, and many believe that they are merely returning the favor. You can judge that rightly or wrongly, but the sentiment among partisans has been that way for some time. I do recall partisan Republicans sporting 'Impeach Clinton' stickers on their cars PRIOR to his inauguration, in 1993. All those stickers of a 'W' in a circle with a line through it didn't help generate good will, either. Well, focusing on personality rather than policy will lead to this kind of animosity.

On the other side of the issue, I have observed Republicans leaving the White House with uncommon grace, working to transition earnestly every time it has happened in my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

They're not leaving, they'll be back once they finish their war on good paying union jobs and destroy that voting bloc.

Unknown said...

This fundraiser is like people boarding the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.

WRT Obama - political partisans are going to be political partisans; there's no point in complaining about that. None of these attacks are having any effect on Obama's popularity; his approval rating is 70-72% and has either gone up (one poll) or remained unchanged (another) since the Blago arrest. Details are at