Blago on the hot seat: Aide pleads guilty to corruption charges

posted at 1:58 pm on April 23, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

A Chicago CBS reporter says the governor of Illinois will not sleep well tonight after a key aide and contributor entered into a plea agreement with federal investigators. Ali Ata ran the Illinois Finance Authority but apparently got the job after making a payoff to Tony Rezko for Rod Blagojevich’s election campaign. Blagojevich said after the second installment that they’d have to find Ata a job where he could make up the difference:

In an explosive development reaching to the state’s highest office, a former high-ranking state official claimed Tuesday that Gov. Rod Blagojevich was on hand when he presented $25,000 in campaign money to now-indicted fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko.

Ali Ata, 56, a former executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, said Blagojevich then asked Rezko if he had talked to Ata about a job on the state payroll.

Ata said later, after he made a second $25,000 campaign contribution, Blagojevich again brought up the subject of a job and said it should be one in which Ata “could make some money.” …

The bombshell came in Ata’s signed guilty plea to lying to the FBI about Rezko’s role in getting him his state job. Blagojevich was not named in the plea, but it was clear from references in the agreement that Public Official A was the governor.

Ata’s plea said Rezko was “very involved” in fundraising for Public Official A. Also, before his selection as head of the Illinois Finance Authority, Ata was told by Public Official A that he, the official, understood Ata would join his administration, it said.

This is the first testimony that puts Governor Blagojevich in the room when a payoff got made. When Ata put the money on the table, Blagojevich asked Rezko whether he had sounded out Ata on what kind of job he wanted in the government. Blagojevich told Rezko to make sure it was “a job where the defendant could make some money,” according to the plea agreement. If the federal investigators can corroborate that with transaction records or any other witness testimony, it will almost certainly result in an indictment against the Governor.

In exchange for testimony at the Rezko trial, Ata will get no more than 18 months on federal tax-evasion and obstruction of justice charges, the latter for lying to an FBI agent during an interrogation. That means Ata will remain available for any corruption trial, not just Rezko’s. He won’t get sentenced until the prosecutors are satisfied that he has testified to the full extent of his usefulness, and that may take a while.

Blagojevich denies everything, but he is rapidly running out of options. At some point, the Democratic Party in Illinois may demand his resignation before it suffers what the Republicans endured in Ohio for much less cause. This could boost the fortunes of the flagging GOP in the Land of Lincoln.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

ANd cause consternation in the Obama camp and get the Media involved.

Hillary is smilling

William Amos on April 23, 2008 at 2:04 PM

heh heh, and some people don’t believe in God :)

windansea on April 23, 2008 at 2:06 PM

blago is a real dope and the latest in a long line of corrupt IL governors.
not sure why this is, but it’s nice they all end up in the same why — in the can.

as an ex-illinoisan, I’m glad to be outta here.

jimmer on April 23, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Ruh roh. What’s the over/under on how much coverage this will get in the MSM? My guess? About 20 minutes……total.

Other than Obama’s connections to Rezko, does Obama have any inside connections with “Public Official A”?

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on April 23, 2008 at 2:09 PM

Rezko? Revco? Isn’t that where the Obamas go for medicine for their younguns, the Hyde Park Rezko, Revco….please don’t let the cat out of the bag before BHO snags that nomination!

el Vaquero on April 23, 2008 at 2:12 PM

I wonder if Hillary knows something about this that we don’t, and is holding it for the right moment, or to use only if necessary to survive. I’ll bet Barry’s handlers feel the way an attorney does when he wonders if his client is really telling him the whole truth. Good times.

a capella on April 23, 2008 at 2:15 PM

Serves the Dems right for what they did to get Barack elected to the Senate. Bunch of thieves, all of ‘em.

rockmom on April 23, 2008 at 2:15 PM

He is a Governor of Undetermined Party until paragraph 30.

eeyore on April 23, 2008 at 2:15 PM

jimmer!
I am an Illinoisan currently, but at the rate our state is going, many more of us will be moving out.
I’ve always hated Boygirlavich and knew it would be only a matter of time before he would be indicted/and or impeached. He’s always been such an idiot. I couldn’t believe he was re-elected.
Whats funny is there was almost NO ONE at his post election party! Also very low voter turn out.
I will be sooooo looking foward to that STUPID smile being wiped off his face!

Conservaboomer on April 23, 2008 at 2:17 PM

Illinois, the land formerly of Lincoln, now where wealthy Democrats go to hang out with crooks and get wealthier. It may surpass Louisiana as the most corrupt state government.

kirkill on April 23, 2008 at 2:18 PM

Flea and tick collars should be DNC standard issue.

Limerick on April 23, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Here we go again….Time to play “Name That Party!”

O-Dub on April 23, 2008 at 2:20 PM

I said long ago Wright isnt going to be the downfall or Obama it will be Rezko that does him in.

William Amos on April 23, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Could we just get ONE decent Republican to come to Illinois and run for governor now? Just one?

playblu on April 23, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Remember,,,,
That’s why it’s called, Crook County!!!

Conservaboomer on April 23, 2008 at 2:20 PM

I remember a couple of years ago, I was in Chicago for a business conference shortly after Blago became governor. And the taxi driver was saying back then, that most people already had buyers remorse

ConservativePartyNow on April 23, 2008 at 2:24 PM

Am I given to understand that there is corruption in Illinois politics? Shocking, why you could knock me over with a 16 ton weight. Good thing there are no presidential candidates from Illinois, especially one connected to any of these crooks.

rbj on April 23, 2008 at 2:27 PM

Democratic Party in Illinois may demand his resignation before it suffers what the Republicans endured in Ohio for much less cause.

Expect that to happen on a cold frosty day in Hell. This state is so politically corrupt, it may be a while before the Democratic Party does anything with our illustriously useless Gov.Blago here.

Besides, this was not the only bombshell to hit today in the Rezko trial. Now there is word that the head Republican leader in this state, Big Bob Kjellander was approached by Rezko to urge Bob Bob’s good buddy Karl Rove to pull some strings and fire U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald so as to kill his investigation into Rezko and his antics.

So don’t just think the Democrats are the only ones sweating bullets over this guy Rezko. The Republicans are nervously watching as this trial progresses merrily along as well. Some big names on both sides of the fence are in for a major reckoning by the time this trial is over with. Blago is one big fish. Kjellander is another.

pilamaye on April 23, 2008 at 2:28 PM

Crooked politics, anyone surprised? anyone?

RMC1618 on April 23, 2008 at 2:28 PM

pilamaye on April 23, 2008 at 2:28 PM

Blue or Red can both wear orange jump suits. You play, you pay.

Limerick on April 23, 2008 at 2:31 PM

March 1, 2009

“Today President Obama was indicted on federal racketeering charges. He immediately pardoned himself and fired the justice department attorney’s responsible. He was in Iran signing the new US-Iran cooperation agreement and couldn’t be reached for comment on who the new appointees will be.”

peacenprosperity on April 23, 2008 at 2:31 PM

Let’s just hope that Public Official O doesn’t get indicted until after the convention. No wonder Public Official C is fighting so hard to stay in the race.

pedestrian on April 23, 2008 at 2:33 PM

a capella: I suspect Hillary might know something and will use it with the ‘undecided’ superdelegates (most of which do NOT hold elective office). An argument of ‘unelectability’, kept private for ‘the good of the party’ (and blackmail doesn’t work well without the salient facts being kept secret.)

michaelo on April 23, 2008 at 2:38 PM

I hope whoever is involved, Rep or Dem, gets nailed.

There is no room for such people in good company, and I don’t care if this is the way things have been for decades or whether one party does more than another.

Nuke them all.

Harry Schell on April 23, 2008 at 2:39 PM

That means Ata will remain available for any corruption trial, not just Rezko’s.

I love the emphasis on ‘any’.

Rove, you magnificent bastard.

Hey, I can dream.

shibumiglass on April 23, 2008 at 2:47 PM

He (Blago) is married to the daughter of long time scumbag Chicago Alderman Dick Mell D-33rd ward. Gotta love this place.

LtE126 on April 23, 2008 at 2:50 PM

Now wait just a dadgum minute. Aren’t y’all rushing to judgement accusing the Democrats? Nowhere in that article do I see a mention of Dems being involved. Oh wait a minute what is this? Right here in the very last 2 paragraphs.

Among $18,000 in contributions to federal candidates, Ata gave $5,000 to Barack Obama, the Illinois senator who is the Democrats’ front-runner for the presidential nomination. Obama donated that money to charity last summer after Ata’s indictment.

Ata also has contributed $5,000 to Chicago Alderman Richard Mell, Blagojevich’s father-in-law, or his 33rd Ward Democratic Organization, since 2002 and $1,000 in 2003 to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a Chicago Democrat.

Okay but you can’t paint all Chicago Democrats with that brush.

/sarc off

Just A Grunt on April 23, 2008 at 2:50 PM

God, this imbecile is embarrassing. I bet life is grand in America, outside the borders of our People’s Democratic Republic of Illinois. We have:

* An entire crooked political class beholden to wealthy ultra-left donors and other skeezy interests

* High taxes

* Zero funding for any agriculture programs due to BloJo’s outright mismanagement of our budget

* No legal standing for concealed carry laws, which are fundamentally spelled out in our Second Amendment

* And, finally, the Chicago Cubs are our iconic sporting ambassadors to the world

This state sucks.

Flyover Country on April 23, 2008 at 2:51 PM

I hope he gets nailed. Well, if he’s guilty that is. But, my guess is he is involved. As a native of Illinois I weep for the regular folks who are overtaxed to pay for his games. Now I live in Iowa and get to watch from across the river.

Terri on April 23, 2008 at 2:55 PM

Flyover Country on April 23, 2008 at 2:51 PM

Don’t feel bad, Flyover. I’m stuck with Paul and the Rangers.

Limerick on April 23, 2008 at 2:56 PM

He (Blago) is married to the daughter of … Chicago Alderman Dick Mell D-33rd ward.

He had a falling out with Dick Mell. That’s when his misdeeds started coming out in public, instead of being kept in the family, so to speak.

dm60462 on April 23, 2008 at 2:58 PM

That’s the Chicago way!

Recently, Blago’s ally and Obama sugar daddy in the State Legislature, Emil “steak not pork” Jones blocked a recall motion.

danking70 on April 23, 2008 at 3:02 PM

BTW, this Ata character lives in the next town from me. Another example of the demographic change since the Eqyptian Brotherhood financed, staffed and built the Mosque Foundation of Bridgeview (Illinois).

dm60462 on April 23, 2008 at 3:03 PM

Funny how it took until the 3rd to last paragraph to mention that he is a Democrat.

roux on April 23, 2008 at 3:05 PM

Great, after Obama blows the election in November, we can work on ejecting him from the Senate in 2010.

NoDonkey on April 23, 2008 at 3:08 PM

michaelo on April 23, 2008 at 2:38 PM

Yes. No one plays dirty pool better than the Clintons. Speaking of blackmail and superdelegates, we also mustn’t forget those FBI files. Whichever leverage she applies, if she is successful, I don’t think the Soros camp will fade quietly into the night. There is too much steam building up. Identity politics runs on emotion, and the Kos Kidz types are just aching for a chance to show their love in a public manner.

a capella on April 23, 2008 at 3:12 PM

I hate to wizz in your Wheaties, but this is how this story is being reported in Chicago.

As a federal probe into Gov. Blagojevich’s administration heated up in late 2004, there were discussions between GOP powerbroker Robert Kjellander and Bush White House insider Karl Rove to oust corruption-busting U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald from his job, according to a man whom prosecutors want to testify at Rezko’s trial.

Those alleged efforts were disclosed in federal court this morning, as prosecutors sought to have them introduced into the corruption trial of Rezko, who is accused of seeking kickbacks and campaign contributions to Blagojevich from companies seeking state business.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie E. Hamilton told Judge Amy J. St. Eve that Ali Ata would testify that he spoke with Tony Rezko (left) about the fact that Karl Rove (center) and Robert Kjellander were working to have Patrick Fitzgerald (left) removed from office.

Judge Amy J. St. Eve is considering the prosecution’s request to allow Ali D. Ata to testify about talks he had with Rezko that included discussion of Fitzgerald’s future. Ata — former director of the Illinois Finance authority under Blagojevich — on Tuesday pleaded guilty to federal charges in a separate case involving Rezko.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/rezko/910971,rezko042308.article

Anybody who thinks conservatives have friends in the MSM ought to have their head examined. McCain will be climbing the same hill that GW climbed in 2004, with only 2/3 of the gear.

Angry Dumbo on April 23, 2008 at 3:26 PM

Angry Dumbo, you’re making me cry. This, not free trade, is the kind of thing that makes me bitterly cling to my God and my guns.

Flyover Country on April 23, 2008 at 3:35 PM

I have tried to train my kids to read through the b-s in the newspaper to find what the editors didn’t want you to know. One technique is to read articles from back to front, because at the end of the article is where you find what the editor hoped you would not have the patience to get to.

In this case, it is the very last word!

drunyan8315 on April 23, 2008 at 5:21 PM

This could boost the fortunes of the flagging GOP in the Land of Lincoln.

You shouldn’t display your ignorance of Illinois politics so blatantly. The entire Democratic Party leadership waving signed confessions on WGN about how they were melting down high school prom queens for pharmaceutical biostock to sell to Abbott Laboratories wouldn’t boost the fortunes of the ILGOP. The leadership wouldn’t be too busy having a meeting to discuss “why weren’t we getting any of that action?”.

Annoying Old Guy on April 23, 2008 at 5:36 PM

Recently, Blago’s ally and Obama sugar daddy in the State Legislature, Emil “steak not pork” Jones blocked a recall motion.

danking70 on April 23, 2008 at 3:02 PM

In all fairness, Emil did offer an alternative: the people can recall members of the IL House and governor, but not members of the IL Senate (for which, Emil is the president).

Emil, of course, was Obama’s political mentor, and stated his intent on turning Barak into a US Senator many moons back.

Very few IL dems are going to call for Blago’s resignation. Especially Obama, who endorsed Blago.

Pull the string on Blago and the corrupt IL dems long enough, and Barak is going to pop right out.

yo on April 23, 2008 at 5:48 PM

Ed:

This could boost the fortunes of the flagging GOP in the Land of Lincoln.

Yeah, but then they’ll draft Alan Keyes again….

irishspy on April 23, 2008 at 6:18 PM

The Republican party is basically dead in Illinois. Another A-Hole we need to get rid of his Mayor Daley and his gestapo attitude towards the 2nd Amendment. Chicago wouldn’t be crime and gang infested if Law bidding Citizens had the right to own a gun in your city.

ZoneDaiatlas on April 23, 2008 at 6:47 PM

What a shithole this state of despair is. Baloneyvich is going to end up in prison, making it two Governors in prison at one time, and two consecutive Governors to be imprisoned.

That’s Great Government!

Jaibones on April 23, 2008 at 11:32 PM

The organized Democrats in Illinois don’t even consider Blagojevich a Democrat. They consider him to be an independent candidate that just ran as a Democrat. As Governor, Blagojevich cannot even pass legislation when the Democratic party controls the state assembly and the state senate.

They can’t decide who gets what share, and how much, of the taxpayers loot.

gabriel sutherland on April 24, 2008 at 1:56 PM