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Guv’s top lawyer forced document hunt

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* Interesting

A month before opening arguments were made in Antoin Rezko’s federal corruption trial, Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s top lawyer issued a memo to the governor’s senior aides.

The Feb. 8 directive called on staff members to search their computers, calendars and files for any information relating to Rezko and eight other notable people whose names have found their way into allegations of corruption within state government.

“If you find any documents or information relating to these individuals, you must notify the Office of the General Counsel in accordance with the directions set out below,” wrote William Quinlan, the governor’s senior legal advisor.

The memo appears to show the governor’s office was attempting to determine the extent of information in its own files about Rezko, whose trial is now nearing its end.

Among the names listed in the memo were Chris Kelly, David Wilhelm, Milan Petrovic, William Cellini, Robert Kjellander, Amrish Mahajan and Melvyn Weiss.

You may not recognize those last two names. Here’s a bit of background…

* Amrish Mahajan

A Chicago banker whose wife is accused of bilking millions from a no-bid state contract has helped raise more than a half million dollars for Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaigns since 2001. […]

Mahajan’s ties to Blagojevich run deep–including hiring the Democratic governor’s wife last year as a real estate agent on $5.7 million in private land deals. […]

At one political event last year, the governor’s 10-year-old daughter, Amy, was overheard by at least two Blagojevich supporters interviewed by the Tribune referring to Mahajan as “Uncle Amrish.” […]

Mahajan’s wife, Anita, was arrested [in March of 2007] on charges of overbilling millions of dollars on her state contract to provide drug screenings to clients of the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services. Her downtown Chicago company, K.K. Bio-Science Inc., has held the no-bid state contract since the early 1990s.

* Melvyn Weiss

Melvyn Weiss paid $5,000 toward lodging, meals and entertainment for Blagojevich’s entourage during its December 2003 trip to New York.

Weiss, his law firm and its attorneys also donated $45,000 to the Blagojevich campaign, including $10,000 on May 13, 2004. Twelve days later, the TRS board voted to place Weiss’ law firm on its list of outside litigators.

[In May of 2006], Weiss’ law firm and two of his partners were indicted by a federal grand jury in a kickback scheme. Weiss did not return a message left at his New York office.

posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 10:56 am


  1. Sounds like an internal investigation - find out if there was any wrongdoing..

    Watch your back!

    Comment by strange Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 11:02 am

  2. Ah, the sound of a noose tightening.

    Comment by Anonymous Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 11:13 am

  3. Bill Quinlan is a class-act. Rod is lucky that Bill’s still on board.

    Comment by Bob Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 11:15 am

  4. It appears that was a very large “Iceburg” the Blago ship hit, when will the “rats” start jumping overboard.

    Comment by Dan S, a Voter & Cubs Fan Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 11:18 am

  5. Or perhaps they were complying with one or more of those secret subpoenas?

    Comment by A Citizen Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 11:19 am

  6. My guess it was to comply with a subpoena. Otherwise, it would be reckless to put such a request in writing and name names.

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 11:34 am

  7. Shouldn’t the request have come from the Blagoof’s criminal defense lawyer/Wrigley Field peddler James R. Thompson?
    BTW most believe whatever talent Slick Willie Quinlan might have had beez long gone….perhaps another head bump victim.

    Comment by Wild Bill Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 11:46 am

  8. What keeps them from deleating all the information they have on their computers??? What a tangled web we weave!

    Comment by Deep Fried Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:03 pm

  9. Rod’s little girl must think that she certainly comes from a big family. There is Uncle Amrish, Aunt Anita, Uncle Tony, Uncle Chris, Uncle Dave, Uncle Milan, Uncle Bobby, Uncle Billy, Uncle Melvyn, etc.

    It kind of reminds you of Tony Soprano’s family when his daughter would talk about Uncle Junior, Uncle Bobby, etc.

    Comment by Mad Max Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:07 pm

  10. “Bill Quinlan is a class-act”
    Maybe so, but he and a few of the Agency attorneys have acted more like defense attorneys for selected Senior officials (governor’s office and agency officials) than they have acted as attorneys protecting the state.

    Comment by Anon Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:11 pm

  11. No fair picking on little kids…they can’t help who their parents friends are…

    Comment by Anonymous45 Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:24 pm

  12. How long must e-maill be archived on the system before it can be purged? I thought the SOS records policy was three years.

    Comment by Anon Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:25 pm

  13. This is standard procedure. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except governors are not supposed to ever be in situations like these. Especially ones that claim to be reformers and ones that were elected to reform the Office after the previous occupant ended up in jail.

    Other than that, it is standard procedures taken to ensure that the person being investigated is in control of all the facts at his disposal and that alibis and excuses are formed to prevent surprises.

    Nice. Thanks Illinois Democrats for nominating him - twice! You wanted a winner, unfortunately you forgot that the winner was supposed to be qualified.

    Comment by VanillaMan Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:29 pm

  14. Wordslinger has hit the nail on the head. It’s all about a subpoena or else: 1) Quinlan would not have requested the search; 2) Quinlan would not have put the request in writing; 3) Quinlan would not have named names; and 4) instead Blago would have had the shredding machines going.

    I don’t know how long e-mails must be archived but you can bet there are more than a few employees who are printing e-mails and keeping them off site.

    Comment by Little Egypt Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:32 pm

  15. Ooooooh, VanMan, nice last paragraph.

    Comment by Little Egypt Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:34 pm

  16. VM,
    You’re welcome.

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:35 pm

  17. How interesting, I wonder if the Executive branch keeps a “CYA” file like every other state employee does. A guy has to protect himself from spurious allegations…RIGHT? Wait, is that the sound of tables turning?

    Comment by If It Walks Like a Duck... Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:45 pm

  18. Mrs. B is going to get indicted before Governor B.

    Comment by Leave a light on George Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:51 pm

  19. I have to go with Word and LE on this. the request itself is failry innocous. The results might be interesting :)

    Comment by Ghost Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 12:56 pm

  20. - Leave a light on George -
    Ms.guv is in the catbirds seat. Commissions on real estate are always paid, she just managed to step in and get a slice off the top. The giver probably had to file a gift tax return when it went over 10 grand.

    Comment by A Citizen Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 1:01 pm

  21. Quinlan’s Feb. 8 memo may just be to see what is left in documentation. The blizzard of subpoenas came out a couple of years ago. Many shredders have probably been worn out since. The Feb.8 memo is just tidying up a bit after the flurry of CYA actions.

    Comment by A Citizen Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 1:06 pm

  22. A Citizen - can’t buy that explanation. It’s all about a(the) subpoena(s), that of course Abby will deny exist because she was told to say so.

    Comment by Little Egypt Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 1:13 pm

  23. “The giver probably had to file a gift tax return when it went over 10 grand.”

    An outrageous accusation! The threshold is $12 grand now, $24 grand if you and your spouse split gifts.

    Comment by Anon Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 1:17 pm

  24. Yes, it was part of a subpoena. I can’t say how I know that, but I know that for sure. The governor’s office, like a lot of political offices, saves constituent letters, e-mails, faxes, etc. - many of which ask for letters of support, favors, information, donations, etc. Who knows what is archived.

    Comment by Team Sleep Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 1:29 pm

  25. - Team Sleep -
    You’re right - there is a huge amount of archived material. It will probably take til the end of guv’s term to satisfy the subpoenas’ info request. Personally, I have always felt the FOIA should be an all or nothing deal - when you file one, a few days or so later six or eight semi trucks show up and dump it all on your front step.

    Comment by A Citizen Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 1:35 pm

  26. Interesting no mention of Beck and Hurtgen. I guess they do have Kjellander on there but he and Cellini are so old school I’m sure they don’t use “the” email or “the” computer to communicate. I read in an interesting article yesturday that stated Beck’s son, David, worked in the Muni Bond Department with Hurtgen. You gotta love Illinois only in this State could they blur the lines between ethical and outragously unethical.

    Comment by GofGlenview Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 2:10 pm

  27. For that last name, there is a bit more than an indictment. Mel Weiss has pled guilty to conspiracy charges relating to improper payments in class action litigation. His plea agreement recommends 33 months and a $10 million fine. there have been several other pleas in the case, including Weiss’ one-time partner Bill Lerach (who is now serving his sentence).

    By my recollection, Weiss has not been sentenced, and no report-date has been set.

    Comment by TomD Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 4:03 pm

  28. Uncle Amrish, huh?…Uncle Amrish? Oh dear me. But then, Auntie Anita once said she had no idea that her realtor was Mrs. Gov…? Tsk tsk. There’s that tangled web thing again.

    Comment by Oh boy Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 6:37 pm

  29. Bill Quinlan is a class act? Have you met him, Bob? He is loyal. He’s sticking around when about 4 or 5 other Blago chief counsels have jetted. I’m not sure it will serve him well.

    Comment by Truth Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 8:13 pm

  30. We’re so sorry, Uncle Amrish.

    We’re so sorry, if we caused you any pain.

    We’re so sorry, Uncle Amrish,

    But there’s no more cash for lawyers or to put in my campaign…

    Comment by Keef Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 8:48 pm

  31. Mr. Weiss and his law firm were also cut loose by TRS immediately following the disclosure of their legal troubles.

    Comment by Eliot Ness Wednesday, May 14, 08 @ 9:41 pm

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