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New revelations about upcoming Rezko trial

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

* Let’s take a quick look at new revelations about the upcoming Rezko trial

Gubernatorial fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko had so much influence with the state of Illinois, state hiring officials not only took his advice on who to employ, but they came to his office to get it, a new federal government filing alleges.

In Rezko’s upcoming trial, federal prosecutors plan to call Jennifer Thomas, an assistant to Joseph Cini, “who was the point person for hiring within a number of state agencies,” said the government.

“Thomas will testify that from approximately late March or early April 2003 through November 2003, she and Cini attended regular meetings at Rezko’s office where Rezko provided names and information on candidates not only for state agency jobs but also vacancies on boards and commissions,” the government wrote.

* A bit of history on that office…

Nearly two years ago, Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s inspector general issued a searing confidential rebuke that called the governor’s patronage office “the real machine driving hiring” in one state agency for jobs that were supposed to be free of political influence. […]

“This effort reflects not merely an ignorance of the law, but complete and utter contempt for the law,” wrote Zaldwaynaka “Z.” Scott, who served as Blagojevich’s first executive inspector general under an ethics law he signed. Scott, who left the post to join a private law firm last year, said she could not comment on her report. […]

The inspector general’s findings take on added significance after [the] disclosure that U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald is looking into allegations of “endemic hiring fraud” within Blagojevich’s administration.

* The prosecution’s first witness was also disclosed…

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s former campaign finance director will be the leadoff witness at next week’s fraud trial of political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Kelly Glynn, who was finance director of the Friends of Rod Blagojevich campaign fund, may be on the witness stand before the end of next week as the projected three- to four-month trial gets under way

* The feds laid out the scam

“Rezko parlayed his success in raising significant sums of money for Gov. Blagojevich into power by gaining access to high-ranking Illinois officials, being given deference in filing board and job positions, and by influencing how certain boards conducted business,” prosecutors said. “At base, Rezko’s power and importance flowed from his ability to raise money.”


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ghost - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 10:04 am:

    it does not look good for the Gov, but until witnesses actually hit th stand and are subject to cross examination tales of his demise may be a bit premature.

    Right now we have the prosecution side, and it is looking grim. But I am still surprised Rezko has not cut a deal *then again it looks like he was getting ready to run). Once they have Rezko, I bet he folds for a deal rather then waiting for them to go after a family member/girlfriend.

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 10:15 am:

    “Complete and utter contempt for the law.”

    I’m as cynical as many, but that statement is striking.

  3. - DCEO - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    looks like Blago is in it deep. some one will get to DCEO and the Harman Family becky and tim.

  4. - POA - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 10:25 am:

    if blago was subpeona’d by the defense in the trial would he have to take the 5th?

  5. - archpundit - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 11:27 am:

    Before assuming that Blagojevich is going down, remember this is very similar to the case against Sorich. Daley hasn’t gone down because Sorich took the fall. It’s fair to say that Blagojevich doesn’t have a Sorich, but someone who can tie him directly to this still has to flip.

  6. - Macbeth - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 11:51 am:

    I haven’t seen this in the comments or in the posts — but what kind of context might this mess give to the CMS trial on hiring fraud last year?

    I mean, Blagojevich decides to pursue legal matters against a couple of folks in CMS — while at the same time overseeing (apparently) massive hiring fraud everywhere else.

    I’m not sure I understand what’s going on — and why he fingered the two folks at CMS to be used as “examples” when the larger system was far, far more corrupt.

    This is all quite bizarre. Par for the course with Blagojevich, I guess.

  7. - Macbeth - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 12:32 pm:

    I play a lot of poker, and Blagojevich has the classic “tell” — strong means weak and weak means strong. In poker, the theory is that if your opponent slams his chips into the middle and stares you down, then you can assume that he’s probably using aggressiveness to mask weakness.

    Most politicians exhibit this. Pols that loudly excoriate fellow pols for, say, marital infidelities are probably guilty of the same thing (and are using the aggressiveness to mask their own weakness.)

    We saw this with Blagojevich from the get-go — and probably should have picked it up immediately. The idea that he’s “changing business as usual” was clearly an aggressive posture — and clearly in conflict with the reality.

    Ditto for his aggression with the hiring practices. He was so eager to throw someone — anyone — under the bus (and tried with the CMS folks) should be the red flag. He’s aggressive here because he *knows* this is his weakness — and he’s over-compensating.

    All this is subjective, of course. But I’m 100% convinced that Blagojevich is guilty of everything he claims to be innocent of. 100%

    If Blagojevich was raising the poker pot, I would throw all my chips in the middle in a heartbeat, calling “All in!.” He simply does not have the cards he’s attempting to represent.

  8. - Vole - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 12:33 pm:

    I am puzzled also. Instead of relying on fraud and corruption to build up a huge campaign war chest to ward off political competitors, why not just do what you say you are going to do during the campaign — bring reform to state government — and rely on the voters to keep you in power? Do you have to cave into corruption to win in a corrupt system? For all Rod says he is working for the people, he didn’t have much faith in them to keep him in the game. He had to be a cheater and submit to the corrupt junta with the power of bucks.

  9. - North of I-80 - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 12:39 pm:

    My guess: Rezko cuts a deal; flips & quietly promises to deliver the Governor; signs what he has to, enters his plea and vanishes to Syria for 8 years. Rezko becomes the fall guy and Blago wins re-election again. Yikes…

  10. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 12:43 pm:

    Unreal. How many qualified, intelligent, “willing-to-work-for-less” applicants were shunned because they didn’t have the correct contacts or because their parents didn’t write checks to the right people? And were some of these jobs protected by Rutan rules?

    Politicians should actively seek out quality personnel. This is not to say that loyalty and party affiliation must be thrown to the side. But discretion should be used, and it’s a shame Blago’s patronage guy and possibly CMS felt the need to actively seek the advice of an influence peddler when plenty of persons have applied for jobs and could do as good - if not better - of a job as those “suggested” by a guy like Rezko.

    Selling appointments to boards - or even merely stuffing them with the same well-connected persons - is offensive to me. These boards regulate and govern matters which affect our lives, and some powerbroker was allowed to direct board appointments that would benefit him and his friends. It’s not much different than corporate board structures that are filled with board members who sit on multiple boards - except this involves public money and policy.

    Cini and others should have told Rezko to shove it. Plain and simple. Instead, we now have an out in the open scandal and more of the same old politics. And how much has it cost this state? How much inefficiency can be attributed to their actions?

  11. - Huh? - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 5:37 pm:

    Will blago lose all of his governmentally funded pension? State? Fed?

  12. - some former legislative intern - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 5:41 pm:

    He fingered the CMS folks in an attempt to shift the blame away from himself and his advisors and towards others. That he did so shamelessly surprises no one who has worked with the man at any stage of his career.

    None of this suprises me, nor am I much outraged by the whole thing. Say you have a spot to fill on the Liquor Control Board. You don’t need big, fancy resumes for most of these boards-especially the nonpaying ones. All you need to know, basically, is maybe how to read and attend meetings. So you give it to the one who has contributed to the campaign fund. Can your candidate read? Check. OK, who can we make happy? Its not rocket science.

    I believe the GOP did the exact same thing, even before Ryan, during their 26 years in the Governor’s office. As a Democrat, I feel it was time that we got to put our own people and contributors in these positions after years of having to watch Repubs reward their people.

    What does annoy me is how STUPID the Governor and his people have been in managing the whole thing. Ego is one thing; these people had straight up ATTITUDE.

  13. - some former legislative intern - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 5:45 pm:

    sorry–to finish, it is the arrogence of the administration that led to the revelations and eventually, will lead to the convictions.

    There was a right way and wrong way to do this. Blago and friends, as with so many other matters, chose the wrong stupid way.

  14. - North of I-80 - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 11:16 pm:

    OR Blago rolls the dice and hopes that Dems take white house and ALL US Attorneys are immediately fired, as Bill Clinton did. Blago slips by in the chaos.

  15. - North of I-80 - Wednesday, Feb 27, 08 @ 11:25 pm:

    To Huh - If convicted of wrongdoing in office that happened while governor, THAT pension is lost but earlier House pension stays. Has to be linkage between job and wrongdoing during it. If a case gets made for wrong doing that started in the House, bye bye that pension too.

  16. - Bill - Thursday, Feb 28, 08 @ 6:29 am:

    Let’s not forget another person tied in to Rezko - Sen. Obama - where will he show up in all of these trials? Will the powers to be cover up his roles to protect the state’s presidential candidate?

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