Tony Rezko has apparently seen enough of prison and wants to cut a deal, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Federal prosecutors have begun meeting with Rezko and getting information, according to at least one defense attorney connected to other defendants in the case.  This sounds like bad news for the Chicago Machine and Governor Rod Blagojevich:

Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a convicted influence peddler who was once one of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s most trusted confidants, has met with federal prosecutors and is considering cooperating in the corruption probe of the governor’s administration, sources told the Tribune.

Rezko’s possible change of heart—after years of steadfast refusal—has sent ripples through a tight circle of prominent defense attorneys who represent dozens of potential witnesses and targets in the wide-ranging probe.

His cooperation would give prosecutors investigating the governor and his wife access to someone they have described as an ultimate political insider at the center of a pervasive pay-to-play scheme.

Rezko’s sentencing hearing comes in October.  If he wants to cut a deal, he’ll need to make it before then, and he had better come up with enough to keep the feds interested.  Patrick Fitzgerald has been investigating Chicago politics for several years, and he will want a lot of scalps before allowing Rezko to see daylight again.

This probably puts Blagojevich on the hot seat first.  Rezko’s trial unearthed at least one potential corruption event directly involving the governor, and he may have much more to tell Fitzgerald.  Obviously, Fitzgerald would love to nail Blagojevich and his involvement in corruption, but something tells me he’s aiming more for Richard Daley.  Blagojevich would make a handy intermediate stop to this ultimate destination, and potentially a good witness against Daley if Rezko can deliver him.

Will this affect Barack Obama?  Maybe, maybe not.  While Obama was neck-deep in the Chicago machine, his role as a legislator probably kept him from getting too entangled in the cronyism and corruption that Rezko ran.  Obama would not have the direct power to reward corruption that Daley and Blagojevich had, and would have served better as window dressing, a reformist that could distract attention from the real rot in the public system.

Of course, we won’t know what tunes Rezko can sing once he starts.

Tags: Barack Obama