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.