* Gee, you don’t think this had anything to do with yesterday’s indictment of Bill Cellini, do you?
Roughly a month after the advent of a law allowing the wrongfully convicted to circumvent the governor in seeking certificates of innocence, Gov. Rod Blagojevich pardoned four exonerated men convicted of crimes ranging from rape to murder.
Two weeks ago, the men filed for certificates of innocence with the circuit courts after waiting for a response from Blagojevich, who has been criticized for taking too much time to respond to clemency petitions. Blagojevich pardoned 26 people Thursday.
* Or this?
Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants state lawmakers to do something to help prevent home foreclosures.
Blagojevich says he’s pushing for a new law that would establish 3-month moratoriums on foreclosures for homeowners who enter mortgage counseling. The proposal will be introduced during the General Assembly’s veto session in November.
* Perhaps I’m just being too cynical. After all, those stories were completely buried by the big news of the day…
The U.S. attorney’s office in Northern Illinois is advancing its way around Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s inner circle, and Thursday’s indictment of GOP political bigwig William Cellini could be just another attempt to recruit one more person to testify against the governor, says Kent Redfield, political scientist with the University of Illinois at Springfield. […]
Redfield says if the assumption is that the U.S. attorney’s ultimate goal is to get all the way to Blagojevich, indicting Cellini makes sense. But there’s no guarantee it’ll work.
* There’s nothing much new in the indictment, but this is ominous for the governor and Cellini…
The grand jury that indicted Cellini is the same one investigating renovations of Blagojevich’s North Side home, according to court documents. […]
Sources said Rezko — who hasn’t finalized a deal for his cooperation — provided information about the alleged extortion scheme.
* According to the Daily Herald, this is the only real new item, which seems to indicate some limited Rezko cooperation…
The document alleges that Rezko and Cellini discussed potentially moving TRS executive Jon Bauman to another state job in order to ensure that he would not cooperate with federal investigators.
Bauman is still the head of TRS…
* And this looks like a bit of payback…
The indictment also revived another allegation that surfaced at Rezko’s trial — that there was a plan to have U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald removed from his post in an effort to block the investigation. One witness testified that Rezko told them White House political director Karl Rove would be involved in the removal.
Another simply said Rezko simply mentioned a plan to remove Fitzgerald.
Rove said through an attorney at the time that he had never heard of such a plan and Springfield lobbyist Bob Kjellander, who also was mentioned as a possible participant, said he had never known about or taken part in any such effort.
But the new indictment says in the summer and fall of 2004, Cellini, Rezko and others discussed the possibility of having Fitzgerald ousted from his post.
* Cellini background…
For 40 years, William F. Cellini has been a fixture in the Illinois governor’s office. And Cellini — one of the most powerful Republicans in Illinois history — maintained his clout when a Democrat, Rod Blagojevich, ended 26 years of GOP rule.
Some Democrats were shocked to find Cellini sitting at Blagojevich’s table during a party at Tony Rezko’s house six years ago. But Cellini had a simple answer to explain how he and his business associates would thrive under a Democratic governor:
“When we’re in, we’re in. And when you’re in, we’re in. We’re always in.'’
* Cellni’s possible motive?
…why would a successful, wealthy political insider at all levels of government work to secure funds on behalf of Blagojevich, a Democratic governor? Redfield says it’s all about power. “I don’t think it was so much about fighting for the governor as it was about power in the board and playing the game. He was as mover and shaker when [Jim] Thompson, [Jim] Edgar and [George] Ryan were governors. That’s what he knows and what he does … Power is addictive.” [said Kent Redfield]
* Some campaign fallout…
The indictment of political insider Bill Cellini leaves numerous politicians scrambling to explain campaign donations tied to the bipartisan power broker.
Cellini and his groups have donated nearly $1 million over the last decade to an array of candidates from both sides of the aisle and up and down the state.
Money from an organization the Springfield native directs, the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, is playing a role in hot races today.
The House Republican Organization, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and House Speaker Michael Madigan have all taken thousands of dollars from the asphalt pavers’ “Good Government Council” political action wing in the last three years alone.
Plus, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has taken at least $17,500 since 2006 from the organization. A campaign spokesman didn’t return a call seeking comment Friday.
…Adding… Thanks to a sharp-eyed commenter, here is a story about some financial ties to prominent Chicagoans…
Like many savvy businessmen, Cellini has friends in both parties.
Take House Democratic Leader Michael Madigan. Cellini has used the longtime House speaker’s law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, to handle real estate tax work for his apartment projects in the Chicago area.
Then there is Ald. Edward Burke, another powerful Chicago Democrat.
His law firm gets real estate tax work from another Cellini business, Commonwealth Realty Advisers, which advises the state teachers pension fund. Commonwealth hired Burke to get the real estate taxes reduced on Forest Park Mall, a troubled shopping center that Commonwealth manages for the fund.
* Cellini trial could teach a lot
* Cellini accused of campaign fund extortion
* Indicting Illinois. Again