How does someone who lost a $250,000 state consulting gig — apparently for doing no work — get a $900,000 no-bid contract a few months later from Gov. Blagojevich’s administration?
That was the good fortune of Chicago lawyer Myron “Mike” Cherry, a major Blagojevich donor who is the main protagonist in yet another story of clout and big money in state government.
Cherry, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser who is linked to at least $60,000 in contributions to Blagojevich, has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing.
But a 2004 investment proposal at the state Teachers Retirement System that would have netted Cherry the $250,000 has drawn scrutiny from federal investigators probing corruption at the pension system and under Blagojevich.
The feds have been investigating whether Blagojevich and fund-raisers Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Christopher Kelly were involved in a secret scheme to steer state pension business to top campaign donors — an accusation all three have adamantly denied.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: From a press release:
DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett called on Governor Rod Blagojevich to stop stonewalling on a secret no-bid contract to a top Democratic contributor.
When Crain’s Chicago Business first revealed the existence of a no-bid contract to lawyer Myron “Mike” Cherry on Feb. 22, 2005, the administration refused to comment on the scope of the work. In today’s Sun-Times, the paper revealed that Cherry was paid $900,000 in six months for work the administration refuses to detail.
“The public has an absolute right to know specifically what work was done by Myron Cherry to justify nearly $1 million in payments in six months,” said Birkett, running mate for gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka, the state Treasurer. â€œAt a minimum the administration should turn over Cherryâ€™s billing records.â€
“Cherry is one of the most prolific Democratic fundraisers in the state. He has given Rod Blagojevich in excess of $60,000,” Birkett noted. “We need answers about this sweetheart contract.”
Birkett said the contract is especially suspect because several months before the no-bid contract, Cherry was poised to receive a $250,000 fee from the administration that the Teachers Retirement System determined was not justified. That potential fee is among those under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, according to published reports.
“Until the Blagojevich administration answers questions about this contract, it will strongly appear that it was determined to reward a major campaign contributor. That is exactly the type of pay-to-play politics Rod Blagojevich said he would halt when he became governor,” Birkett added.