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You can thank a lot of people for this

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

* Um

As an aggressive federal corruption probe pursues Illinois Democrats, frustrated voters of both parties feel a sense of relief. Finally, someone is digging out the bottom of the well — and the top.

Grateful for the intervention of the feds? One person deserves kudos, and progressive Democrats especially might want a defibrillator on standby before saying it aloud: Thanks, Mr. President.

President Donald Trump, through his then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, nominated federal prosecutor John Lausch in summer 2017 to lead the Chicago-based U.S. attorney’s office. Lausch was one of a handful of candidates considered and vetted by Illinois’ GOP congressional delegation. U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth signed off, too, but only after eliminating from consideration Maggie Hickey, who had served under former Gov. Bruce Rauner. Her GOP connection made Democrats nervous. Maybe they thought Lausch would go easy. How wrong they would have been.

Lausch has been on the short list for that job since at least 2012. Durbin and Duckworth both backed Lausch’s nomination after their screening committee recommended him. And they thought Lausch would go easy on corruption? Says who?

Also, the US Attorney’s office under Obama ensnared both a Chicago alderman (Daniel Solis) and an Illinois state Senator (reported to be Terry Link) who were eventually used to nab others. Link and Obama used to regularly play poker together back in the day.

The fact is, federal prosecutors and investigators have been involved in a years-long process to get to this point.

Has the Lausch appointment played a major role in this? Yep. No doubt. Does the president deserve kudos for nominating him after he was recommended by the delegation? Yep.

But that nomination didn’t come out of nowhere and neither did this widespread probe.

…Adding… Also, do you remember this case? Lots of players involved and it may have been the catalyst for some of what’s going on today

The son of a wealthy pharmacist, Sethi was a licensed pharmacy technician in 2003 when his family were partners in a $10 million deal to buy a 122-room hotel on 2.8 acres at 8201 W. Higgins Rd., next to a Hooters along the Kennedy Expressway.

A few years later, Sethi decided to knock down the hotel and replace it with three hotels and a convention center.

He hired one of Chicago’s most politically connected zoning attorneys, James Banks, who got approval for the project from the City Council Zoning Committee which was then headed by his uncle, Ald. William Banks, a powerful member of the Cook County Democratic Party. The alderman — who later ended up working for Sethi — abstained from the January 2009 vote.

Four months later, Sethi hired Madigan’s law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, to seek a reduction in the property taxes by appealing the value put on the hotel and the land by the Cook County assessor’s office and the Cook County Board of Review, agencies controlled by Madigan’s fellow Democrats. Over the next four years, Madigan’s firm saved Sethi and his family more than $645,000 in taxes as the family ended up tearing down the hotel to make way for the project. […]

Sethi also hired attorney Michael McClain, a Madigan loyalist who’s one of the top lobbyists in the state capital. A former state legislator, McClain once served as Madigan’s assistant majority leader. […]

Sethi settled the SEC case in March 2014, agreeing to pay a $1 million fine, sell the land and refund the money he collected from foreign investors, including the administrative fees that went to the Chinese brokers who lined up investors.

Five months later, Sethi was indicted for fraud. In January, he pleaded guilty.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments »
  1. - independent - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:05 am:

    Based on the information we have seen so far a lot of this started before Lauch was appointed. I also heard that the US Attorney from central Illinois was involved originally. Either way its a long time over due.


  2. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:08 am:

    Is “chuckle-head” a banned word?

    – MrJM


  3. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:09 am:

    The investigation clearly started under, and we might want to send a ventilator up to the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board before saying this, President Obama.


  4. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:11 am:

    There are a lot of Democratic politicians that are thankful that the DOJ continues to hold corrupt politicians to account. It makes the job a lot easier if you are the one doing things the right way.


  5. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:16 am:

    Apparently putting two governors in prison is peanuts. Sorry Pat Fitzgerald!


  6. - Drake Mallard - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:19 am:

    “Success has many fathers, failire is an orphan”


  7. - Steve - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    Once people saw Alderman Ed Burke knocked off his perch: a lot of people were willing to talk and talk…


  8. - Responsa - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:21 am:

    Of all things, rooting out political corruption should be a welcome non-partisan effort. I don’t care who started sniffing it out or who is working to put a stop to it. Just do it. And thanks.


  9. - The Historian - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:27 am:

    And Obama & Solis worked together back in the 1980s when Obama was a South Side community organizer…


  10. - Ducky LaMoore - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:31 am:

    Let’s not tear a rotator cuff patting yourself on the back. Wow, the Trump admin nominated someone who won’t let politics interfere with investigations. Well, that’s one.


  11. - Sue - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    Two questions. Where was Lisa and where is Raoul?


  12. - tominchicago - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    Goodness knows that Hurricane Kristen is not one to let facts interfere with her chosen narrative.


  13. - ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    So if I’m reading this right, we should be thanking partisan politics for these prosecutions? Hurricane Kristen are you sure you want to go there?


  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:38 am:

    - Sue -

    Explain the constitutional duties of the Illinois Attorbey General.

    To the post,

    Since the days of Jim Thompson to today, it’s been critically important that everyone works to get US Attorneys willing to not only focus on corruption, but be successful to taking these cases to court and winning,

    To the idea that lone wolf actors are driving selections in the recent, in a partisan way to make the office and the powers partisan over a perceived bad actors whom have a negative partisan lean, it’s the goal of justice to not only be blind, but be just to all.

    It’s great that these investigations continue, not so great that partisan lenses are being used to see that.


  15. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:40 am:

    Sure, what the heck, I’ll agree with them on this one. I mean, the trib is full of conservatives who would love to tongue-bathe trump on a daily basis, but on what other topic can they do it without looking ridiculous? Trump’s level-headed demeanor? His honesty? His ethical behavior? His grasp of foreign-policy details? There isn’t much they can honestly cheer the guy for without fully turning into the print version of the judge Jeanine Pirro show. They’ve finally found a topic where crediting trump for a success is only somewhat of a stretch, instead of an unserious-to-the-point-of-provoking-laughter type stretch. These days, that’s way more than any other conservative media outlet can say. So, um, good for them I guess.


  16. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:42 am:

    If Trump was really the one who kicked off the investigation it would only be because he’s got somebody who wants the real estate law business Burke and Madigan would end up losing.


  17. - DIstant watcher - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:48 am:

    The Trib congratulates the president for an investigation that snared Ald. Burke but forgets to mention that the preident hired Burke before he was elected?


  18. - Sue - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    As far as I know Illinois has an ethics law and an official misconduct statute. Policing both of those falls within the functions of the Illinois AG. So I repeat both questions - Where was Lisa and where is Raoul?


  19. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 11:05 am:

    - Sue -

    Enlighten on the steps the AG must follow in regards to that… finish the thought, please.

    Do we know if the FBI or USA asked the AGs to back off?


  20. - Nuke the Whales - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 11:08 am:

    The conservatives at the Tribune were clearly waiting for some obscure liberal to pitch a conspiracy theory about targeting Democrats so they could go to town with both-sideism about bashing investigations and claim Democrats condone corruption. When that didn’t happen, they decided to publish this malarkey themselves hoping that some liberal takes the bait. As it turns out, there is one major political party in this country with respect for the rule of law and it’s not the one they support.


  21. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    ==the trib is full of conservatives who would love to tongue-bathe trump on a daily basis==
    Lester, really - an hour before lunch? What, are you on my Dr.’s payroll for my weight loss program?


  22. - Bourbon Street - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 12:48 pm:

    It’s a good thing we have the sharp minds on the Tribune Editorial Board; otherwise, we’d never have known that John Lausch was the very first U.S. Attorney assigned to the Northern District that cared about political corruption. /s

    It’s articles like these that make me question my own sanity as to why I continue to subscribe to the Trib. I’d like to say it’s because of the comics section, but then I’d be hard-pressed to identify which comics section I was talking about.


  23. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    As long as the charges aren’t Trumped up, I’ve got no problem with the focus.


  24. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Nov 20, 19 @ 7:21 am:

    == When that didn’t happen, they decided to publish this malarkey themselves hoping that some liberal takes the bait.==

    And did it like talented grifters. “Maybe they thought Lausch would go easy. How wrong they would have been.”

    Maybe. Maybe the city hall building will turn into cheddar cheese and the flying unicorns will come down from the sky to eat it.
    You can do a lot with maybe. And then if someone confronts you, you can say “I said maybe. I didn’t say it happened.”


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