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Feds zeroing in on governor’s house

Monday, Oct 6, 2008 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told my readers about this several days ago

Federal investigators are zeroing in on whether Tony Rezko paid for all or part of a $90,000 rehab of Gov. Blagojevich’s Northwest Side bungalow as the corruption probe of the state’s first family accelerates.

Since Rezko’s felony conviction in June, the FBI has been investigating how the former top Blagojevich fund-raiser billed the governor and his wife for the work, who paid for it and whether Rezko ever arranged for cash to be passed in envelopes to the Blagojeviches, several sources familiar with the probe told the Chicago Sun-Times.

A grand jury has issued at least one subpoena related to the project, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Agents also have inquired about the governor’s wife’s real estate dealings with Rezko and whether Rezko might have disguised payments for the work through sham billings at a large housing development he was building. […]

The questions about the Blagojevich house are part of a joint investigation by the FBI, IRS and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Other aspects include whether the governor’s administration traded state posts or contracts for campaign cash and Patti Blagojevich’s real estate dealings.

As Bill Baar notes

How weird if the Gov (and his wife) end up imprisoned over home improvements when they could have lived on the Taxpayer’s dime in a mansion in Springfield.

* Related…

* Contractors dealt directly with gov’s wife, who ‘definitely knew what she wanted’


  1. - Bill Baar - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 8:12 am:

    Thanks…I have an insight every once in a while.

  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 8:33 am:

    There’s a grand jury on this, too. The guy I mentioned last week was called.

  3. - Holdingontomywallet - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 8:48 am:

    An issue like this really illustrates how arrogant this Governor has always been. These people are too cheap to use personal funds to renovate their own home? He’s always got an angle to put the screws to someone (usually the taxpayer) to benefit himself. It’s all about Blago, and that will be his downfall - his own arrogance, perfect ending.

  4. - VanillaMan - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 8:53 am:

    Now, now - they couldn’t just let the state police doing governor detail use their toilets, could they?

    They just might use them the same way the Blagojevichs do, and Patti wouldn’t like that!

  5. - Specifics - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 8:58 am:

    What exactly were the home improvements?

  6. - Loop Lady - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 9:05 am:

    arrogant and not too bright…I knew there was trouble brewing when Mell made his accusation around Xmas time several years back…only an insane person or an idiot would tee off the guy who brought him to the dance…Patti clung to her spouse pretty tightly after that and I had to
    think twice about her loyalty given her political pedigree…

  7. - BigDog - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 9:27 am:

    I remember when this work was done and all the hubbub was made about his using union labor (as he was decidedly pro-union). A lot of people threw around opinions and questions on this topic that were typically of the “how can your average Joe Homeowner be expected to use union labor on home renovation projects given the higher costs this would involve?” variety. I guess now we know.

  8. - Shallow Pharnyx - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 9:34 am:

    Can they speed up this investigation? If this is the result of them not living in the Mansion- GREAT!

  9. - Levois - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 9:36 am:

    *shakes head*

    Bill Baar is right. The ole Gov could have saved some money by living in the Governor’s Mansion instead.

  10. - Wumpus - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 9:43 am:

    I need a “real estate fairy” like Rezko. He seems to take care of those he sees potential profits within.

    So he has the FBI, IRS and the USPS after him? I know people have beaten the FBI as their jobs are quite difficult, but peole rarely beat the IRS. How hard is it to beat the USPS in a case? That is a pretty impressive trifecta the gov has

  11. - The Silence is Deafening - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 9:44 am:

    When John Rowland; the Republican Governor of Connecticut (1995-2004) was under an 18 month federal investigation for; among other things, having received $100,000 worth of free home repairs to his lake side vacation cottage, the ranking Republican on the Connecticut state Senate Judiciary Committee described him as having exhibited an “almost pathological pattern of behavior regarding ethical lapses.”

    Has anybody here heard from my old friend AJ?
    Can you tell me where he’s gone?
    They voted on the Recall Amendment and at first he was “present” but I turned round and now he’s gone…………

  12. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 10:27 am:

    According to the Sun-Times improvements were redoing a 14-by-20 family room and adding a deck. I’m not an expert on home remodeling or on how much it costs in Chicago, but $90,000 sounds pretty pricey for that kind of project.

  13. - Captain Flume - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 10:31 am:

    “$90,000 sounds pretty pricey for that kind of project. ”

    According to a Sun-Times story dated 2/18/07:
    “Blagojevich, who has had strong labor union support, insisted on using union labor, which drove up the cost, Ottenhoff said.”

  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 10:44 am:

    Also, the guv was hit for using non-union workers on a 2002 rehab project.

  15. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 10:56 am:

    90k is a price of a decent size home in Southern Illinois!!!.

  16. - Team Sleep - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 10:57 am:

    This is an interesting time in Illinois politics. What I find intriguing about this entire ordeal is that a sitting governor AND his wife are both under severe scrutiny. There is no precedence for this.

    Bill B. is right - and in a nicely done in a humorous, sarcastic way.

    Even without Bill’s point, I find it striking that anyone - especially the governor of a state - would do that for a home or business. White collar crime is chic to go after and prosecute. So in addition to campaign and pay-to-play allegations, the governor could busted for something completely not necessary.

  17. - A Citizen - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 11:09 am:

    Orville Hodge had a similar problem paying for his own house remodeling - in his case a Lake Springfield house. He tapped some little known Treasurer’s Office trust funds. Eventually he was caught and imprisoned and later in an effort to avoid a recurrence the Comptroller’s Office was created. Oh, and he also bought a motel in Florida for his wife to manage, on site, giving him the freedom to enjoy the company of his girlfriend upon whom he lavished gifts paid for by . . . . you guessed it!

  18. - RobRoy - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 11:19 am:

    I love the Orville Hodge reference, had to Wiki’ him. Wow, what a big time crook! Makes Ryan and Blago looks like pikers….at least so far.

  19. - A Citizen - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 11:34 am:

    For a really riveting course in “how to public corruption” the book “The Hodge Scandal - A Pattern of American Political Corruption” by George Thiem, a Chicago Daily News reporter is invaluable. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his expose.

  20. - sneaker - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 11:37 am:

    The $90,000 price tag does not bother me, especially since they used union labor. I would like more information on payment.

    Any thoughts on the possibility of Patty’s Dad coming to the rescue of his daughter. I’m sure he’d lock up Rod and toss the key in the lake but, can he let his daughter accompany her hubby to jail?

  21. - Captain America - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 11:41 am:

    No surprise here -the home remodeling scam is a tried and true mathod used by dishonest, corrupt politicians: Governor Rowland in Conecticut; Senator Stevens in Alaska, too many local pols too remember, etc… I seem to recall one of the other principals in the Pinnochio scandals claiming that he had been asked to ante up to pay for the Blagojevich remodeling project.

    What’s amazing to me is that these crooked policitians are so brazen and arrogant that they repeat the same simple crime over and over again, and think no one’s going to notice/they’re not going to get caught.

    Blago dreams about being elected President when he knows that every financial and political transaction may be subject to intense scrutiny by the media and opposition researchers. But he goes ahead and commits this petty crime anyway. Stupid is as stupid does!

    If I were an honest elected official, in the future, I’d be sure to throughly document every home remodeling/home purchase transaction very carefully to avoid even an appearance of impropriety.

  22. - A Citizen - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 11:47 am:

    Sorry Rich, that was a bit snarky, but I haven’t been deleted for over a month now so it was about time.

  23. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 12:38 pm:

    C’mon folks, don’t blame the high cost of this “remodeling project” on union labor.

    Rod and “licensed real estate broker” Patti (and whoever actually paid the tab) spent more than they needed to because they had a general contractor (cost) and subs for all the trades, most of whom were located a good commute from Ravenswood. (more cost)

    SWAG the deck at 10 grand and the family room cost $350 per square foot. That’s high, even for the city.

  24. - Just My Opinion - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 1:57 pm:

    This is such a great way to begin a week.

  25. - Captain Flume - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 2:17 pm:

    He shoulda hired Al Borland. ah-rooo-ooo

  26. - downhereforyears - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 2:32 pm:

    It’s almost over! Sadest part is that the citizens of Illinois take it in the shorts one more time. By the time they get done uncovering all that this guy and his wife did we all may be too old to care anymore. I’ve never been in favor of impeachment….but I now believe we should call the question and let’s spare all of us the embarassment of a sitting Governor being indicted and going through a long drawn out trial. STOP THE FUNDRAISING ROD1

  27. - A Citizen - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 2:49 pm:

    I am beginning to think Fitz is just waiting until the “Friends of Blago” Fund has enough cash to repay the feds for the cost of the investigations and the rest of the process. However, that’s Not to encourage all of us to donate!

  28. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 3:27 pm:

    Rezko was a player in at least one prominent congressman making a bundle flipping houses in recent years. It was reported the in MSM, and I can tell you it’s being looked at. Lot of work; apply at the Dirkesen Building.

    That’s why I was intrigued about the Boy Wonder of Peoria Story.

    Let’s face it, it’s not the most ingenious method of a dirty buck (leaves a paper trail). Just ask old Duke Cunningham.

  29. - Mr. Wizard - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 5:45 pm:

    Complicated fees for bond deals make peoples heads hurt, but somebody else paying for a home remodel is something everybody understands.

  30. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 6:39 pm:

    Sun-Times is now reporting the following:
    “Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to indefinitely postpone Tony Rezko’s sentencing on corruption charges — admitting for the first time they are undergoing discussions with the political fund-raiser.” God would I love to be a fly on the wall in the gov’s home tonight. I wonder if the “POPE” is sweating bullets about now? My question of the day - What if the OBAMASSIAH is elected and come December/January it comes out that he is implicated in criminal activity? Do we swear him in, swear AT him or pray that the cancer that is ILLINOIS politics does not spread to the national level?

  31. - A Citizen - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 6:50 pm:

    Well. if we simply vote McCain Palin in there would be no “political” problem for the case to go where ever it leads. Yes, that’s what I’ll do - Problem Solved !!

  32. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 7:47 pm:

    Golly, if only I had written this little pot-boiler as a novella. I would be rolling in the dough! This whole mess goes beyond anything you could ever make up.

  33. - topgun - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 9:42 pm:

    Just in, Fox news is reporting that the Feds are requesting an extension on Rezko’s sentencing. I guess he really must have something good on the Rodster

  34. - A Citizen - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 10:24 pm:

    This leaves the Rezko/Obama question wide open. NOT good for Obama - Rezko is the albatross around his neck!

  35. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Monday, Oct 6, 08 @ 10:50 pm:

    Just checked - Fox AND MSNBC websites are carrying the story. The text is more extensive than the Sun-Times, but most of it is just catch-up stuff for the other 49 states that have not had front row seats for this “ETHICAL REVOLUTION” the Dems have brought to our doorstep. Is it any wonder it took 26 years for them to re-gain the governorship??? At this rate our only hope appears to be the creation of the “We’re Unethical and We Don’t Care Who Knows It Party”. At least we would know where they are coming from.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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