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Tribune: Jackson buddies discussed raising $1 mil for Blagojevich

Friday, Dec 12, 2008 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This doesn’t look good at all. Not at all

As Gov. Rod Blagojevich was trying to pick Illinois’ next U.S. senator, businessmen with ties to both the governor and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. discussed raising at least $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign as a way to encourage him to pick Jackson for the job, the Tribune has learned.

Blagojevich made an appearance at an Oct. 31 luncheon meeting at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg sponsored by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak, a major Blagojevich supporter who also has fundraising and business ties to the Jackson family, according to several attendees and public records.

Two businessmen who attended the meeting and spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity said that Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi privately told many of the more than two dozen attendees the fundraising effort was aimed at supporting Jackson’s bid for the Senate.

Among the attendees was a Blagojevich fundraiser already under scrutiny by federal investigators, Joliet pharmacist Harish Bhatt.

Bhatt’s pharmaces were raided a week ago.

* Possibly important context

Citing unidentified sources, the Tribune reported that businessman Raghuveer Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi told attendees at an Oct. 31 meeting that they needed to raise the money for the governor to ensure Jackson‘s appointment. […]

According to the FBI complaint, the Oct. 31 meeting took place the same day federal prosecutors intercepted a conversation in which Blagojevich claims he‘d been approached by a representative for an unnamed “Senate Candidate 5″ who offered cash in exchange for the Senate seat.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Jackson was the candidate.

But keep this in mind

Jackson’s newly retained attorney, James Montgomery, said Wednesday he could not rule out that such possibilities were discussed with Blagojevich by people who did not have his client’s blessing

* From CBS-2

Former city worker Frank Coconate was Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Northwest Side point man when Jackson flirted with the idea of running against Mayor Daley.

Now, Coconate says, he’s not shocked by federal wiretaps in which Blagojevich discusses selling Barack Obama’s Senate seat to someone described as a Jackson emissary.

“He was always looking to deal,” Coconate said. “If he couldn’t get it outright, he’d buy it.”

In a 2005 meeting with a longtime Jackson aide, Coconate says, he was told Jackson only endorsed candidates who sent money Jackson’s way.

* Self-evident, from The Hill: Jackson now unlikely Obama replacement


  1. - Jake from Elwood - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:43 am:

    Between this and the latest Rahm angle, this is story that continues to morph into new and fascinating places.

  2. - anon24 - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:43 am:

    maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a good senator out of this mess. paul simon, rest in peace.

  3. - VanillaMan - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:44 am:

    I’m sadden by the news. Jackson often cast himself as a crusader and I wasn’t as cynical about him as I had been over Blagojevich in the same role. Blagojevich didn’t surprise me, but Jackson does.

    The Congressman had tried for years to extract himself from his father and his father’s business and be his own man. To have him bite at Blago’s bait and get caught is lousy.

    He will survive in the Congress because his seat is 90% Democratic and loyal. But he will not be much of a contender for other offices after this. Perhaps he knew this, and is one of the reasons he aggressively hounded everyone for Obama’s seat.

    The entire charade he put on damages him. He tried to dupe us all with his campaign blitzkreig. He and his inner circle went out of their way to produce this huge ruse.

    He can no longer be trusted.

    Halvorson should be secretly pleased over this.

  4. - Former 4d3 - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:48 am:

    And Mr. Bedi is in China right now via his Blagojevich-sponsored position as director of the IL foreign trade office at DCEO. Convenient for him!

  5. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:49 am:

    Chip of the ol block…Shakedown artistry passed on to the next generation. What a fine legacy. And thats with the legitimate kid.

  6. - ivoted4judy - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:49 am:

    The apple does not fall far from the tree.

  7. - Jail house Rod - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:53 am:

    the JJJ story keeps getting worse and worse for Jr. He’s toast!

  8. - Anon - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:55 am:

    Why is this a surprise to anyone? Didn’t JJJ have a standing required campaign donation for his support (with inclusion of his airbrushed photo — the same one for each candidate). If this is all suddenly illegal shouldn’t all the candidates for office (some, now current officeholders) be swept up in the investigation??

  9. - anon71st - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:57 am:

    JJJ stuff has final caught up with him. This has been his mo along withis Dad’s for years. I didn’t believe a word he said during his press conference. He has always been out for self and hehasn’t done anything for the district, It is time for him to go!

    Stuff caughts up with you sooner or later.

  10. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:04 pm:

    Is Jackson throwing his emissaries under the bus?

    Wonder if it will make it hard for him to recruit emissaries in the future?

  11. - Captain - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:10 pm:

    I like Triple J, and respect Double J. It’s not clear to me that they committed crimes. I guess what it boils down to is the testimony of the fundraisers about conversations and understandings they may have had with JJJ and or JJ. Blago could also take JJJ down with his testimony, but nobody would believe him absent corroboration. Blago has the Levine problem -lack of credibility.

    It is clear to me that Blago was selling the Senate appointment to the highest bidder. But the quid pro quo issue is still unresolved. It will be interesting to see if the feds can dot the i’s and cross the t’s in this case. I’m still open-minded abot the guilt and innocence of the Jacksons. But it looks very bad!

  12. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:16 pm:

    CNN is teasing an upcoming interview with Trips and his wife — “passionate, emotional.” Watch the waterworks.

    More from the tease… According to the interviewer, Don Lemon, Trips said Rod has “something wrong with him,” and, suggested the remarks on the tape might have been fantasy.

  13. - Ghost - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:17 pm:

    I feel bad for Sandi. This may tarnish her as well, and my impression of her is she is above this kind of conduct.

  14. - Rubbernecker - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:22 pm:

    The CBS story is rife with shoddy reporting. (At the end, of course) they reveal Coconate had a falling out with JJJ. They also hint at Coconate’s supposition as to the emmissary. Now that it appears to be Naryat/Bedi, was he correct?The whole angle of the CBS story is that JJJ’s endorsements were for sale. They makes it sound like a potential JJJ-supported candidate had to give JJJ $50-$100k. Not true. To me, JJJ was separating the wheat from the chaffe by setting standards for candidates on fundraising (to show viability) and looking at poll numbers (confirming viability) before endorsing anyone.

    If anything came out of this story (if any of it is true) it’s that JJJ would associate with a loser/gadfly like Coconate at all. The guy’s run for state rep & ward committeeman several times and gotten trounced. How beneficial could Coconate possibly have been to him for anything.

    Not to defend JJJ to the hilt, but this story was weak!

  15. - DuPage Dave - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:25 pm:

    This whole mess indicates that Illinois needs to do some major revision of its campaign finance laws.

    Why do politicians with no opponents need millions in a campaign fund? Why is it allowed for the pol with a huge pile of money to give some of those funds to another pol?

    Why do we allow someone like Blagojevich to collect campaign contributions that are then used for legal fees to defend himself in a criminal investigation related to his official conduct?

    I don’t know what the answer is, but big changes are needed. We need to make it much more difficult for shakedowns to happen, and to put our relatively honest pols in the position of raising funds for our less honest pols.

  16. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:31 pm:

    JJJ is not meeting with the feds today, per WGN.

  17. - Loyal Alumn-Uof I 65 - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:32 pm:

    Is this another Tale from the Brother’s Grimm Book of Fairy Tales? Why did he immediately lawyer up and declare a news conference where he extolled his virtues for the office. Must have been something he drank in the water at the Gov’s office when he met with him for 90 minutes. Amazing the funder numbers match the take from the luncheon and the number on the feds tape.

  18. - HV in HP - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:38 pm:

    JJJ teared up because he saw “HIS” senate seat slipping away…

  19. - Captain Flume - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:45 pm:

    So I read where Nils Larsen at the Tribune is Financial Advisor A.

  20. - Bubs - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 12:47 pm:

    So these businessmen all began discussing raising ONE MILLION DOLLARS for Blago to “support” Jackson’s candidacy for appointment, all as volunteers and without either Jackson knowing a thing about it?

    No sale.

    This is far from over.

  21. - Good lord - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 1:11 pm:

    When the media starts turning to somebody like Coconate, whose meaningless support is reputed to be available to the highest bidder itself, to comment on this issue, we really have entered the Twilight Zone.

  22. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 1:26 pm:

    Poor Obama. He’s basking in the glow of a big victory, measuring drapes for the Oval Office and then the greased palms of Illinois politics slap him hard in the face.

    He must be feeling like Michael Corleone in GFIII.

    “Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.”

  23. - Gabriel - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 1:29 pm:

    From the Tribune story about the meeting at the India House…

    =Iftekhar Shareef, past president of the influential Federation of Indian Associations, said he attended the Saturday fundraiser for the governor at the invitation of Bedi and Nayak. Shareef said the congressman’s brother Jonathan also attended.

    “Raghu [Nayak] is always talking about how we need to appoint Jesse to the Senate,” Shareef said. “They are very close. Raghu is close with all the Jacksons. He even asked me to write a letter to the governor supporting Jesse Jackson for the Senate.” Shareef said he wrote the letter.=

    Why would Raghu “need” Jesse Jackson Jr. as a United States Senator?

    The Feds have been digging into records at Mutual Bank Corp., Amrish Mahajan’s bank and a himself a huge Blagojevich fundraiser, in regards to the Rezko land deal next to Obama’s home. Doesn’t it appear that Rezko is singing all sorts of tunes?

    These raids are all coming just weeks after we learned about Rezko singing and the civil suit filed by former Mutual Bank credit analyst Kenneth Connor for wrongful firing.

  24. - Gabriel - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 1:33 pm:

    The criminal complaint against Blagojevich and Harris and their arrests on Monday was highly unusual, but they now appear to be mere role players for a corruption ring. Fitz was able to get wiretaps for a sitting governor. How many wiretaps for non government officials has he been able to obtain?

    This looks huge.

  25. - Anon - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 1:48 pm:

    Why are we surprised by the Jackson’s? The Jackson’s and PUSH have been doing this for years. “you don’t give me a beer distributor we will sue.” “I’ll endorse you if you give me money” “you don’t pay me, we will strike” I mean damn Sr. had a damn onion in his pocket on obama’s election night. I am not surprised at all.

  26. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:23 pm:

    I do believe this story is about to go all out nuclear. The fundraising timelines coincide so perfectly with Blago’s insidious statements. This mess is really going to hurt the Democratic party in this state and even across the nation.

  27. - Sophie G - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:28 pm:

    There will be some sort of casualty from O’s team. O never should have said neither he nor his staff had any contact with Blago about Senate seat. No one believes that. He’ll need to dump either Rahm or Axelrod to get himself out of this before it’s all over. The cover up is worse than the crime. He won’t say anyone did anything wrong, and maybe they didn’t, but he’ll just claim they are stepping down because he wants to avoid distraction from the real issues facing the country (blah, blah, blah…)

  28. - Anon - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:42 pm:

    Sophie G, you may be discounting the possibility that Obama’s people went to the U.S. Attorney’s office themselves when Blagojevich started talking in quid pro quo terms. Why else would Valerie Jarrett have withdrawn her name from consideration for something she so clearly was interested in?

  29. - Sophie G - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:05 pm:

    Anon - Good point, but if Obama’s folks went to Fitzgerald to express concern that Blago was looking for pay to play from them, that just proves that O’s team was indeed communicating with Blago about the seat. And that completely contradicts what O originally said. I realize he changed his tune and said his staff is gathering info about their contact with Blago, but initial damage is done. I still think O’s going to have to do something dramatic to shake this so he can get on with his agenda.

  30. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:11 pm:

    Sophie G, I don’t think they are technically his staff yet-I could be wrong?

  31. - Sophie G - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:23 pm:

    Phineas (great name, btw) - I think that would be a technical and disingenous out, don’t you? Transition staff and already named incoming WH staff count. It was pointed out in a story that Rahm hasn’t resigned his House seat yet. He could always say he was making suggestions to Blago on his own as a member of congress but that would be a tough sell. Bottom line for me is that for Obama to say any of those folks weren’t officially on his staff would be a very Clinton-esque answer, akin to debating what “is” really means! I am just speculating like everyone else and I’ve appreciated the discussion and this forum. Thanks.

  32. - Gabriel - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:32 pm:

    =Why else would Valerie Jarrett have withdrawn her name from consideration for something she so clearly was interested in?=

    Axelrod told a Harvard audience yesterday that Jarrett never wanted the Senate seat. CNN reported that a “democratic source” told them she did want the seat on November 10th.

    There are a lot of loose ends that require a nip and a tuck. You have to imagine that Gibbs is dreading this at a time he wants to be focusing on the transition communications.

  33. - Chanahan Man - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:39 pm:

    Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner has had a lot of money raised by Nayak, and in turn he was allowed to buy a vacnt hospital cheap. I hope the Feds come to Aurora soon.

  34. - SAM - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 4:20 pm:

    According to a Sun-Times report, Nayak was alleged to have beaten Harish Bhatt, another Blago fundraiser who is under investigation, in Lake Geneva in 2003.

    Nayak has donated money to the Aurora mayor and tried to hide his ownership in a property purchased in Aurora. Amrish Mahajan, of Mutual Bank and Rezko’s banker, is providing funding to Nayak for that purchase.

  35. - SAM - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 4:25 pm:

    Although Jesse Jackson Sr., denied being the emissary yesterday, on Monday he was asked by a reporter about Jr potentially becoming a senator and he replied, “No comment.”

    When has Jesse Jackson Sr ever not talked to the media? Only when his adulterous affair was revealed.

    Are we to believe the King of Shakedowns was unaware of what his son was doing? That his son, Jonathon, was doing this without his blessing?

  36. - Emily Booth - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 5:52 pm:

    Anon @ 1:48, I also thought JJ was shedding crocodile tears at Grant Park.

    JJJr does not have monolithic support from the AA community. Being appointed to the Senate might have made it easier to win in 2010. It was a strategic career move and it failed for obvious reasons.

    I think we’re going to hear alot more stories once RB is indicted.

  37. - A supreme candidate? - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 10:56 pm:

    Hey Pat, if you’re taking notes, add Marilee Leahy to your list of new, untainted “possibles” for that senate seat. I think she’d be great at it, and with her history, it has a certain resonance.

  38. - Chanahan Man - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 7:55 am:

    Today’s Aurora Beacon News has a story about Nayak and Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner.

  39. - Down South - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 11:17 am:

    Being from Louisiana, unfortunately we are to familiar with corruption in the political arena. I do feel for the people of Illinois because I know how damaging and disruptive this kind of scandle can be. If I was suspicious of JJ’s motives before I read these posts. They have only served to reinforce that my were suspicions were correct. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ill. This world wide exposure might just be a blessing in discuise!
    By the way! Jessie never represented me. I don’t know why so many people thinks that He speaks for the entire AA community.

  40. - Lynn S - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 12:21 pm:

    Please don’t forget, DownSouth, that in the past Jesse Sr. always told us he spoke for the AA community. He’s been losing stature up here for a long time (going back to at least the whole Decatur, IL football fight mess), and JJ sees what little clout slipping away faster and faster and faster these days. Obama was never were close to the Jacksons, and now the boys have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar(s). As I type this, I’m starting to wonder how soon InBev (the new owners of Anheiser-Busch) are going to start questioning the process by which the Jacksons got their River North Budweiser distributorship? Make yourself a big bowl of popcorn; the next few months and years could be tons and tons of fun!!!

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