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Indicting the insider’s insider

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* Gee, you don’t think this had anything to do with yesterday’s indictment of Bill Cellini, do you?

Roughly a month after the advent of a law allowing the wrongfully convicted to circumvent the governor in seeking certificates of innocence, Gov. Rod Blagojevich pardoned four exonerated men convicted of crimes ranging from rape to murder.

Two weeks ago, the men filed for certificates of innocence with the circuit courts after waiting for a response from Blagojevich, who has been criticized for taking too much time to respond to clemency petitions. Blagojevich pardoned 26 people Thursday.

* Or this?

Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants state lawmakers to do something to help prevent home foreclosures.

Blagojevich says he’s pushing for a new law that would establish 3-month moratoriums on foreclosures for homeowners who enter mortgage counseling. The proposal will be introduced during the General Assembly’s veto session in November.

* Perhaps I’m just being too cynical. After all, those stories were completely buried by the big news of the day

The U.S. attorney’s office in Northern Illinois is advancing its way around Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s inner circle, and Thursday’s indictment of GOP political bigwig William Cellini could be just another attempt to recruit one more person to testify against the governor, says Kent Redfield, political scientist with the University of Illinois at Springfield. […]

Redfield says if the assumption is that the U.S. attorney’s ultimate goal is to get all the way to Blagojevich, indicting Cellini makes sense. But there’s no guarantee it’ll work.

* There’s nothing much new in the indictment, but this is ominous for the governor and Cellini…

The grand jury that indicted Cellini is the same one investigating renovations of Blagojevich’s North Side home, according to court documents. […]

Sources said Rezko — who hasn’t finalized a deal for his cooperation — provided information about the alleged extortion scheme.

* According to the Daily Herald, this is the only real new item, which seems to indicate some limited Rezko cooperation

The document alleges that Rezko and Cellini discussed potentially moving TRS executive Jon Bauman to another state job in order to ensure that he would not cooperate with federal investigators.

Bauman is still the head of TRS…

* And this looks like a bit of payback

The indictment also revived another allegation that surfaced at Rezko’s trial — that there was a plan to have U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald removed from his post in an effort to block the investigation. One witness testified that Rezko told them White House political director Karl Rove would be involved in the removal.

Another simply said Rezko simply mentioned a plan to remove Fitzgerald.

Rove said through an attorney at the time that he had never heard of such a plan and Springfield lobbyist Bob Kjellander, who also was mentioned as a possible participant, said he had never known about or taken part in any such effort.

But the new indictment says in the summer and fall of 2004, Cellini, Rezko and others discussed the possibility of having Fitzgerald ousted from his post.

* Cellini background

For 40 years, William F. Cellini has been a fixture in the Illinois governor’s office. And Cellini — one of the most powerful Republicans in Illinois history — maintained his clout when a Democrat, Rod Blagojevich, ended 26 years of GOP rule.

Some Democrats were shocked to find Cellini sitting at Blagojevich’s table during a party at Tony Rezko’s house six years ago. But Cellini had a simple answer to explain how he and his business associates would thrive under a Democratic governor:

“When we’re in, we’re in. And when you’re in, we’re in. We’re always in.'’

* Cellni’s possible motive?

…why would a successful, wealthy political insider at all levels of government work to secure funds on behalf of Blagojevich, a Democratic governor? Redfield says it’s all about power. “I don’t think it was so much about fighting for the governor as it was about power in the board and playing the game. He was as mover and shaker when [Jim] Thompson, [Jim] Edgar and [George] Ryan were governors. That’s what he knows and what he does … Power is addictive.” [said Kent Redfield]

* Some campaign fallout

The indictment of political insider Bill Cellini leaves numerous politicians scrambling to explain campaign donations tied to the bipartisan power broker.

Cellini and his groups have donated nearly $1 million over the last decade to an array of candidates from both sides of the aisle and up and down the state.

Money from an organization the Springfield native directs, the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, is playing a role in hot races today.

The House Republican Organization, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and House Speaker Michael Madigan have all taken thousands of dollars from the asphalt pavers’ “Good Government Council” political action wing in the last three years alone.

Plus, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has taken at least $17,500 since 2006 from the organization. A campaign spokesman didn’t return a call seeking comment Friday.

…Adding… Thanks to a sharp-eyed commenter, here is a story about some financial ties to prominent Chicagoans

Like many savvy businessmen, Cellini has friends in both parties.

Take House Democratic Leader Michael Madigan. Cellini has used the longtime House speaker’s law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, to handle real estate tax work for his apartment projects in the Chicago area.

Then there is Ald. Edward Burke, another powerful Chicago Democrat.

His law firm gets real estate tax work from another Cellini business, Commonwealth Realty Advisers, which advises the state teachers pension fund. Commonwealth hired Burke to get the real estate taxes reduced on Forest Park Mall, a troubled shopping center that Commonwealth manages for the fund.

* Related…

* Cellini trial could teach a lot

* Cellini accused of campaign fund extortion

* Indicting Illinois. Again

- Posted by Rich Miller        


37 Comments
  1. - Leave a light on George - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 10:33 am:

    For all you old timers that had to kiss Janice Cellini’s ring to keep or get a job this must be a sweet day.


  2. - Wumpus - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 10:36 am:

    I bet Kass is doing a jig..is there somethign called a Greek Jig? anyway, whether some people like the term Combine or not, he has been rallying against bi-partisan corruption for years. He has been the most vocal critic of Cellini and Kass deserves credit


  3. - GOP'er - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 10:41 am:

    This is all just part of a brilliant masterplan.

    The Illinois GOP is transplanting its corruption over in the Democratic Party of Illinois.

    Seriously, my guess is more Republicans go down before Blago, that is if he ever does.


  4. - ivoted4judy - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 10:41 am:

    If Mike Madigan smoked, he probably would have lit up a big CIGAR last evening. Yesterday just gave him more ammo in his quest to deny G Rod a capital bill. Why would the legislature ever give this corrupt administration the ability to let out massive contracts. That is what MJM is quietly telling his union hacks and members..


  5. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    “When we’re in, we’re in. And when you’re in, we’re in. We’re always in.’’

    He probably wasn’t thinking of being “in” in the George Ryan sense.


  6. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 10:51 am:

    There is no Greek “jig.” There is a “Tsamiko” which Kass is probably doing. Or if he is quick on his feet, a “Kalamatiano.”


  7. - Truthful James - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 10:58 am:

    Ah yes, Janice Cellini was one of Little Jim Edgar’s insiders.

    Bill Cellini, bad scalp doily and all, is the linchpin at the key to opening up the Combine — Republican and Democrat. Damn near all the fish smell in the Springfield pond and there will be work aplenty not only for Pat Fitz but also for his downstate counterparts.

    If Cellini lives, his squeal can be monumental, oing all the way back to Jimbo Thompson and the Ramada Renaissance plus Costello and the Collinsville Hilton.

    Fun times are ahead., one bite at a time up the food chain, Bob the Shill-lander and Dallas Ingemunsson, sleep well tonight. Paul Powell was a piker.

    President Obama may have a long pardon or commutation list.


  8. - Aon50 - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:05 am:

    When you dig a grave for someone you need to dig one for yourslef. Mike Madigan needs stop thinking about the Gov and focus on his relationship to Cellini which was mentioned on Oct. 6th in the Suntimes. And quote “Take House Democratic Leader Michael Madigan. Cellini has used the longtime House speaker’s law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, to handle real estate tax work for his apartment projects in the Chicago area.” Here’s the link to the article: http://www.suntimes.
    com/news/metro/1251571,cellini-bu
    siness-party-lines-10061996.article.

    I think all these elected officials need to stop pointing the finger at each another, look at their pass history with people connected to indictments and their relationpships with these people. Several former Governors had a relationship with Cellini and many other former elected officials. I don’t think Cellini started operating like this only with the current Gov. Seems like a pattern and practice me! That means all these other people new this also. It’s hard to believe these other people didn’t know how this guy operate. Perhpas they had some spiritual revelation!


  9. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:11 am:

    ‘The more I think about it, the allegation that the boys conspired to remove Fitz is also an indictment of previous U.S. Attorneys.

    Until Fitz, and since and including Big Jim, most of the U.S. Attorney’s for Northern Illinois were establishment GOP: Skinner, Valukas, Foreman, Fahner and of course everyone’s favorite defense attorney, Webb.

    All those guys knew Cellini and Big Bob, right? They were all on the same team, politically, correct?


  10. - Aon50 - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:13 am:

    Wordslinger, that makes a lot of sense.


  11. - Classic! - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:14 am:

    No wonder Blagojevich has been pushing the “Capitol Plan” so hard, his life depends on it. There have been whispers for a long long time how gullible and for sale Blagojevich has been.
    Anyone know how much the Illinois Road Builders Association has donated to Blagojevich?


  12. - ivoted4judy - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:16 am:

    If Cellini does have “the C” as reported in today’s C Fax, i am truly sorry for that. It does strange things to people, and all of Bill’s friends should probably not be sleeping too well the next few months.


  13. - GofGlenview - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:27 am:

    Slinger: It’s pretty clear that Fitzy team is Justice, no poltics- that’s why he’s been effective.

    Question? Was it Bauman or Parrish at TRS?


  14. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:35 am:

    word, I beg to differ with you here. First of all, I think “indictment” may be a pretty strong word for a group of guys who were exemplary proseutors and have each gone on to successful private legal careers doing what most ex-prosecutors do, which is take the other side.

    Secondly, when they were appointed USA, (when you and I had no kids and were still young men) all were basically apolitical acolytes of JRT and had no political track record. The politics came post-office for all of them unless I’m forgetting something, which old age can cause to happen.

    The final point, which is maybe a distinction without a difference, but is relevant IMHO, is that these guys were caught up in the Thompson/Edgar feud in the 90’s and were not on the same team beyond voting against Clinton.

    Most of these guys couldn’t get you yesterday’s paper while Edgar was in, in no small part because they resisted Cellini’s and Big Bob’s “suggestions” to JRT when they were involved in his administration or campaigns.

    All have moved on and none would discuss it publicly, but there were plenty of witnesses back in the day who know what old AA is talking about.


  15. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs Fan - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:35 am:

    The “house of cards” for Illinois Politicians seems to be falling in and it all seems to be thanks to the incompetenT bafoon that holds the title of Governor. Maybe we do owe Blagoof some thanks.


  16. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:38 am:

    GofG-read the indictment, or read Rich’s post. The answer is contained within.


  17. - Sango Dem - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:40 am:

    I’d be surprised if they started looking into Cellini’s dealings in sangamon county government. I won’t be surprised if a lot of springfield area republican leaders suddenly decide not to run for office again to start spending more time with their family. You don’t need a lot of indictments to start cleaning house.


  18. - Truthful James - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 11:45 am:

    Perhaps “old AA” might like to expand on the hotel deals, and especially the wildly strange and highly unusual repayment and guarantee provisions under the State of Illinois Bond Issue for Cellini’s Ramada Ren financing — all done, I believe while JBT was governor.


  19. - anonynmous again - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 12:08 pm:

    R you cant have it both ways i hear yuo bragging celini will get off and out of the other side of the mouth haha this is going to get blago if you think about it both cant be true for would not the chain break if celini gets off make up your minds


  20. - Team Sleep - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 12:18 pm:

    I know money is a drug to some and power is a drug to most, but Mr. Cellini would have been wise to kick both habits around Labor Day 2002.

    At some point, he had to think - or maybe know - this would catch up to him.

    Is the humiliation to his name and his family really worth it?!

    Big Bill could have won any Sangamon County seat he wanted. That could have been a decent “golden parachute” for him, as it were. He still could have had a lot of power from any elected position and he would have still held the utmost respect from people in the community.

    What a mess.


  21. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 12:25 pm:

    Team Sleep, perhaps an explanation, courtesy of the great Robert Towne’s screenplay for “Chinatown.”

    Jake Gittes: I just want to know what you’re worth. Over ten million?
    Noah Cross: Oh my, yes.
    Jake Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What can you buy that you can’t already afford?
    Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gitts, the future.


  22. - Old Teacher - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 12:37 pm:

    Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355) should be renamed the William F. Cellini Pensions Tollway.
    Shame on Illinois!


  23. - sweet music - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 12:46 pm:

    Cellini’s an old man. He doesn’t want to die in prison, and if convicted, its likely at his age he would. The feds will resist any kind of lighter time or easier way of serving it, to keep the pressure on Old Bill. There will be no offers of ankle bracelets or home detention.

    Having seen for myself how long and hard Mister C. ruled this state, and how many underlings and toady surrogates for him did whatever they wanted in state government for so long, protected and empowered by his money and influence, I don’t have much sympathy for the guy.

    He can have Dan Webb bleat innocence all he wants, that’s just strategy to put up token resistance as part of negotiating the eventual plea deal with “Da G”. If their sole defense is that Levine is a shaky witness, well, the feds proved with Rezko that they can find enough corroborating testimony from other, linked sources to prove enough of what Levine would say to get a conviction.

    I think Cellini will sing, in 4-part harmony, to stay out of prison. And when he does, it is going to take down a LOT of people besides Rod. In outfit terms this would be like the Don himself turning state’s evidence. The fallout will last for years and make the careers of a generation of prosecutors and defense attorneys. It will tarnish the legacies of Edgar and Thompson as well. Hopefully, after all the destruction, a fresh start can be made for Illinois


  24. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 12:46 pm:

    “Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants state lawmakers to do something to help prevent home foreclosures”.

    Well it certainly is encouraging to see the leader of the State finally wade into the mortgage crisis and try to save some of it’s residence homes. Especially since his office issues the licenses to do business to many of the predators responsible for the mess. So what if he is a few years too late to do anything about it. At least he gets a press release.


  25. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 1:31 pm:

    Old Teacher-

    Irrespective of what Bill Cellini and his pals may have made off of I-355, it is a super amenity for the south suburbs, and its name honoring of veterans should remain intact. OTOH, the same cannot be said about the Rennaisance.


  26. - GofGlenview - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 1:35 pm:

    AA- Its hard to keep the co-schemers A and the co-conspirators A (Kelly?). Parrish testified at Rezko’s trial so I wasn’t sure how he was classified. Bauman seems to be identified as a TRS Staffer A -(Excutive Director)so the question is is he cooperating?


  27. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 3:24 pm:

    Truthful, I think we’ve had this debate before. I would rather like to have you “expand” on other things that you think happened “while JBT was governor.”

    Oh, look, a kitty.


  28. - GofGlenview - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 3:44 pm:

    AA- Oh, it’s not the speed really so much, I just wish I hadn’t drunk all that cough syrup this morning.


  29. - Capitol View - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 3:45 pm:

    Due to the statute of limitations, any discussion of political events or activities of Bill Cellini during the time of Jim Thompson and even Jim Edgar are moot.

    Cellini has been “phasing out” for the past few years, but he wanted to establish a firm future for his kids in investments and business ties. How sad.


  30. - GofGlenview - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 3:52 pm:

    AA- I know what you know about “JBT”. That said, I think you meds have me confused with the guy your really after- Touchdown Rejus.


  31. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 4:09 pm:

    AA would like to meet TD R’s pharmacist, GofG.


  32. - Shelbyville - Friday, Oct 31, 08 @ 7:06 pm:

    I find it interesting the number of posters on here that really make sense and actually know some details about Cellini.

    Actually, he wasn’t on ht einside with the Ryan administration and he never liked it very well. He and Kj and Udsteun were hangers on and couldn’t wait for Ryan to get out of there.

    I do remember one really nice fundraiser that Bill held for George, about the time that the stuff from the SOS office was first hitting the news, but that was all.


  33. - steve schnorf - Sunday, Nov 2, 08 @ 12:56 am:

    Truthful, I fear you aren’t being today. Either that, or I missed the whole JBT stint as governor.


  34. - dragonfly - Sunday, Nov 2, 08 @ 8:57 am:

    I’m beginning to wonder what the ultimate goal of the U.S. Attorney might be. Could be a big “house of cards” before all is done.

    Is there a list of the Rennaisance hotel investors published anywhere? Might be interesting to take a look at their campaign donations. Wasn’t there also a hotel in Collinsville?


  35. - steve schnorf - Sunday, Nov 2, 08 @ 2:06 pm:

    and one in Mt Vernon. BTW, my guess in no one finds BC as a significant contributor to anyone


  36. - Truthful James - Sunday, Nov 2, 08 @ 2:19 pm:

    Regrets. I meant of course, when James Thompson was governor not Judy B who never was.

    In fact when Judy B was elected and found herself under combine pressure to let Cellini off the hook for the Ren, my written advice to her was to leave that alone


  37. - steve schnorf - Sunday, Nov 2, 08 @ 5:40 pm:

    I haven’t PVed the numbers, but I’m willing to do a quick bet that sold at Judy’s number at that time we come out close to even or better.


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