The Tribune obviously did not buy into the governor’s spin.
Political insider Stuart Levine pleaded guilty Friday to scheming to squeeze millions of dollars from firms seeking state business, and authorities alleged in the clearest detail yet that he had the help of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s top campaign supporters.
The new allegations in the plea agreement of Levine, a longtime Republican fundraiser reappointed to state boards by the Democratic governor, only increased the questions about corruption swirling around the race for governor with little more than a week until the Nov. 7 election.
In the 58-page plea agreement, federal authorities spell out allegations that Blagojevich’s two top fundraisers schemed almost from the beginning of the governor’s administration to use their newfound influence for corrupt purposes.
* The AP was a bit more sympathetic.
A businessman who funneled thousands of dollars into Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign pleaded guilty Friday to using his seats on two state boards in a bid to collect millions of dollars in kickbacks.
But Stuart Levine’s plea agreement with federal prosecutors contained no direct charge of wrongdoing on the part of the governor who is waging a re-election campaign while coping with a federal corruption investigation.
All the same, the 58-page plea agreement was crammed with details of corruption in state government and guaranteed to fuel campaign fireworks.
* The Daily Herald focused on Chris Kelly.
Four days after Gov. Rod Blagojevich predicted federal prosecutors would never indict his kitchen cabinet adviser Christopher Kelly, a guilty plea put Kelly in the midst of a scheme thatâ€™s already led to the indictment of the governorâ€™s top fundraiser.
The Kelly revelations unfolded Friday as Stuart Levine, a Republican campaign donor who also contributed to Blagojevich, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering, and admitted a whole host of other criminal conduct.
* ABC7 reported “the plea agreement contained no new blockbuster allegations and none involving the governor directly.” Quotes from both sides.
* Copley took the political route.
A former appointee of Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleaded guilty Friday to mail fraud and money laundering in a kickbacks-for-clout case that also accuses one of the governor’s top fundraisers of corruption.
But the highly anticipated guilty plea of Highland Park businessman Stuart Levine came as something of an anti-climax in Illinois’ political world.
Levine’s plea in federal guilty added little to allegations contained in the indictment of Blagojevich adviser Antoin “Tony” Rezko earlier this month. And nothing in Levine’s 58-page plea document accuses the governor himself of wrongdoing, prompting Blagojevich spokeswoman Sheila Nix to call the document “extremely good news.”
* And the Sun-Times went a different direction altogether.
Robert K. Kjellander, a nationally powerful Republican with strong ties to the White House, emerged Friday as a key figure in an ongoing probe of corruption in Illinois.
Kjellander is identified as “Individual K” in a guilty plea by Stuart Levine, a political insider who describes an underworld of behind-the-scenes deal makers who wielded clout to bilk millions of dollars through two state boards.
Levine said he used his connections to steer a $150 million state pension deal to a firm represented by Kjellander, earning Kjellander a lucrative finder’s fee. In return, Kjellander allegedly agreed not to bill Levine for lobbying work.
The plea deal does not accuse Kjellander of any wrongdoing, but the mention of him indicates the feds are interested in his actions.
Have at it.
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