Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blagojevich On Obama's Ties To Tony Rezko

I've always maintained that convicted political fixer Tony Rezko had much closer ties to Barack Obama than he had to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Rezko played a key role in the corruption charges on which federal prosecutors tried the former governor that ended in a mistrial after jurors could only agree on convicting Blagojevich of just a single charge--lying to FBI agents. Rezko, who raised considerable campaign contributions for both Obama and Blagojevich, allegedly funneled cash to Blagojevich to help pay for renovations to his Ravenswood home in Chicago. Similarly, Rezko aided Obama in the purchase of his southside mansion by purchasing an adjacent vacant lot and then selling a portion of it to Obama, a move that allowed Obama to purchase his home for considerably less than the asking price and that significantly increased the home's value. In an interview with ABC News' Brian Ross, Blagojevich explains how his first introduction to Obama was made by Rezko, a Syrian Muslim immigrant who later became a Catholic:

Blagojevich said that Obama, even more than himself, had a longstanding, close association with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, the Chicago real estate developer who had become the subject of his own federal probe – one that ultimately led to Rezko's conviction on fraud and bribery charges. The former governor said his very first meeting with Obama, then about to join the Illinois senate, came by way of Rezko's personal introduction.

The point Blagojevich sought to paint in his interview with Ross that Obama was the ultimate target of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of him.

"When they had me in custody they were very clear about they wanted me to cooperate and talk about people in higher places ,and with all due respect to Mayor Daley, there's no one higher than Governor," he said.

"You're talking about then president-elect Obama?" Ross asked.

"I'm not saying that right now." Asked who else he could mean, Blagojevich shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Is it your impression they were thinking about Obama?" Ross pressed.

"I have my own personal opinion but from where I'm sitting right now it's probably better for me not to talk about it." He then grinned, "If I'm guilty of anything it's that I talk too much."

Blagojevich's strategy in suggesting Obama is the ultimate target of Fitzgerald's investigation is patently obvious. He wants to place in the minds of potential jurors, particularly black jurors, in the case Fitzgerald plans to retry against him that if he is found guilty, this guy is going after Obama. Unfortunately, I don't think Obama has a thing to worry about. The reason I say that is because federal prosecutors went out of their way, to the point of weakening their own case against Blagojevich, to prevent ties to Obama from being brought out during the trial. Despite the criminal role Rezko played in some of the charges against Blagojevich, the government never called him as a witness. Rezko has never been sentenced despite his conviction more than two years ago at the insistence of federal prosecutors with whom Rezko has been cooperating in its case against Blagojevich. A key charge against Blagojevich, an attempt to sell Obama's Senate seat, involved conversations the former governor had with Obama and others close to him like Rahm Emanuel. Both Emanuel and Obama were key strategy advisers to Blagojevich during his first run for governor. Emanuel succeeded in taking Blagojevich's congressional seat when he ran for governor.


Marycatherine Barton said...

If one is to bring up Rezko Muslim roots, then it is only fair to bring out Emanuel status as a Jew who holds citizenship in Israel as well as USA, and is from a terrorist family.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Maybe in the next trial of Blago, re corruption in Chicago political circles, we will get to hear details about the Purple Hotel, Man's Country, and the Down Low Club,