Tribune: Fundraiser for Blago tied to Jackson effort

posted at 8:35 am on December 12, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The Chicago Tribune reports this morning that a group of Chicago businessmen met to plan a fundraiser on the final weekend of the campaign.  Did they raise money for favorite son Barack Obama, or perhaps for John McCain?  In fact, they raised money for a candidate who wasn’t even running for office three days before his arrest — and the true intent was to benefit another:

As Gov. Rod Blagojevich was trying to pick Illinois’ next U.S. senator, businessmen with ties to both the governor and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. discussed raising at least $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign as a way to encourage him to pick Jackson for the job, the Tribune has learned.

Blagojevich made an appearance at an Oct. 31 luncheon meeting at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg sponsored by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak, a major Blagojevich supporter who also has fundraising and business ties to the Jackson family, according to several attendees and public records.

Two businessmen who attended the meeting and spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity said that Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi privately told many of the more than two dozen attendees the fundraising effort was aimed at supporting Jackson’s bid for the Senate.

Among the attendees was a Blagojevich fundraiser already under scrutiny by federal investigators, Joliet pharmacist Harish Bhatt.

That meeting led to a Blagojevich fundraiser Saturday in Elmhurst, co-sponsored by Nayak and attended by Jesse Jackson Jr.’s brother, Jonathan, as well as Blagojevich, according to several people who were there. Nayak and Jonathan Jackson go back years and the two even went into business together years ago as part of a land purchase on the South Side.

Blagojevich and the congressman met to discuss the Senate seat on Monday, one day before federal prosecutors arrested Blagojevich and charged him with trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. As part of the charges, prosecutors alleged that Blagojevich was considering awarding the seat to a politician identified as “Senate Candidate 5″ because emissaries for that candidate were promising to raise as much as $1.5 million for Blagojevich’s campaign fund.

Jesse Jackson, Jr insisted yesterday that he had no dirty hands in this scandal.  His father, former presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson, told reporters that he didn’t act as a go-between for his son to Blagojevich.  He may have told the truth, according to this report.  It looks like the go-between was Jonathan Jackson, and the Saturday fundraiser was the down payment.

This may explain why Patrick Fitzgerald moved now.  First, money did change hands — perhaps not explicitly, but the structure of the payoff for “Senate Candidate 5″ was supposed to be campaign contributions.  After this down payment, Jackson could reasonably expect his appointment to follow shortly after the fundraiser.  Fitzgerald had to be worried that Blagojevich could act any time.

It’s not just businessmen involved in this fundraising effort, either.  One prominent Illinois official took part in this plan.  Rajinder Bedi runs the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Trade and Investment and serves as a close aide to Blagojevich, according to the Tribune.  Another businessman, Harish Bhatt, supposedly wields great influence in state politics.  A prominent pharmacist, he allegedly installed the state regulator for pharmacists through Blagojevich in order to ensure a friendly ride, and who allegedly helped Bhatt fend off Medicaid fraud investigators.

The entire rotten edifice of Illinois politics has started to crumble.  I doubt anyone connected to it will come up clean, and right now it looks as though a lot of people will wind up in prison.


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There were rumors of a RICO case that Fitz was working on that people thought was ACORN related (still could tie in) a month before the election or so.

I wonder how many of these loose strings he has tied together?

Mr Purple on December 12, 2008 at 8:38 AM

This makes great TV…oh wait, it is real dirt and politics chicago style! Oh yeah!

jbh45 on December 12, 2008 at 8:41 AM

Here’s hoping for a collapse and clean up but the reality is much closer to gangland than anything else. There is, in waiting, a whole new crew one level down waiting to take over.

Never forget we are talking Chicago, Illinois.

patrick neid on December 12, 2008 at 8:42 AM

JJ Jr. will have some great stories to tell.

How high can he reach?

artist on December 12, 2008 at 8:43 AM

There were rumors of a RICO case that Fitz was working on that people thought was ACORN related (still could tie in) a month before the election or so.

I wonder how many of these loose strings he has tied together?

Mr Purple on December 12, 2008 at 8:38 AM

He’s not tying them together, he’s weaving the freaking Bayeux Tapestry with them… This one has the potential to be as famous as the original.

bullseye on December 12, 2008 at 8:45 AM

I hope JJ Jr isn’t involved. He is such a nice person.

kanda on December 12, 2008 at 8:45 AM

“The entire rotten edifice of Illinois politics has started to crumble. I doubt anyone connected to it will come up clean, and right now it looks as though a lot of people will wind up in prison.”

Everyone except Obama, b/c he’s squeaky clean!

The more people that get caught up and charged, the better the chance we learn something about Obama.

It doesn’t have to be about the Senate seat, it could be the land deal or something else.

The dominoes appear to be falling.

artist on December 12, 2008 at 8:46 AM

Sounds like the little boy at the dike won’t have enough fingers to plug all the leaks, the flood is coming.

Done That on December 12, 2008 at 8:47 AM

Hopefully a lot of people will go to prison for all this. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Leonidas Hoplite on December 12, 2008 at 8:47 AM

I hope JJ Jr isn’t involved. He is such a nice person.

kanda on December 12, 2008 a

Funny how the msm isn’t referring to him as Obama’s national co-chair.

They want to remove all perceptual links.

artist on December 12, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Why do I have this sick feeling that no matter how ugly this gets and no matter how dirty JJ Jr. gets… somehow he’ll end being elected to something somewhere down the line?

They stole Illinois from Nixon and changed history… some 48 years later little has changed and with the press keen on minimizing damage to Democrats… I see a few sacrificial lambs being offered up as the big names come out the other side stronger than ever.

Is that cynical enough for ya on a Friday?

mankai on December 12, 2008 at 8:48 AM

I am sorry if this comes off rude but what are the origins of those names? Raghuveer Nayak, Harish Bhatt, Rajinder Bedi are these all Indian names?

Cindy Munford on December 12, 2008 at 8:49 AM

‘There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed”….. So true….

DL13 on December 12, 2008 at 8:49 AM

Sounds like the little boy at the dike won’t have enough fingers to plug all the leaks, the flood is coming.

Done That on December 12, 2008 at 8:47 AM

The question is whether Obama is already standing on high ground, or stuck down below.

JiangxiDad on December 12, 2008 at 8:49 AM

“Say, JJ, I’ve a Senate seat for ya… but it’s gonna take a little ‘grease’ to move things along.”

“Dy-no-MITE!”

mankai on December 12, 2008 at 8:53 AM

Cindy Munford on December 12, 2008 at 8:49 AM

Sounds like it, but it seems to me the Dems are largely a coalition of minorities, ethnic, sexual, and otherwise. The last names will often reflect that.

JiangxiDad on December 12, 2008 at 8:54 AM

I’m getting a little misty-eyed reading this latest new report. Why, it was only a century ago that my people (the Irish) were assimilated into the corrupt machinations of American Big City Politics. And here we are, barely scratching the 21st Century, and I’m reading names that are obviously South Asian, possibly in cahoots with an aspiring African-American politician. You really know you’ve made it when your people have a “place at the (albeit politically corrupt) table

Red State State of Mind on December 12, 2008 at 8:54 AM

But….but…his sister sent him an email!! She’s so proud. He came out and said he was above it all!! I saw it on TV.

If some one like Obama can make it all the way to the Presidency, why can’t he be a Senator!!???

Ker-blooie!!!

BigWyo on December 12, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Commence with the frogmarches. This ought to be fun.

JammieWearingFool on December 12, 2008 at 8:58 AM

Great point. Shouldn’t all the coverage begin with,

“Prominent Democrat and Barrack Obama Campaign National Co-Chair, Jesse Jackson, Jr?”

Sugar Land on December 12, 2008 at 8:59 AM

Reminds me of the cabin outhouse up north, and a late night visit for personal business.

You pull the single-bulb string and little bugs and ugly critters go slithering and chittering into the dark corners, trying to escape the light.

Bishop on December 12, 2008 at 9:00 AM

“Prominent Democrat and Barrack Obama Campaign National Co-Chair, Jesse Jackson, Jr?”

Sugar Land on December 12, 2008 at 8:59 AM

JJ Jr. is a Democrat ?!?!

Red State State of Mind on December 12, 2008 at 9:01 AM

Ohhh!! The Jackson crime family looks like it is going down along with Blago. Let’s take bets on who else will go down!!

Illinidiva on December 12, 2008 at 9:01 AM

The entire rotten edifice of Illinois politics has started to crumble.

I would love to believe it, but right now I can’t. Those eels are slippery and I foresee them slithering away to regroup. Some may fall, but lieutenants will become dons, etc. The dance will go on.

SKYFOX on December 12, 2008 at 9:02 AM

JiangxiDad on December 12, 2008 at 8:54 AM

Sounds like the U.N. and we all know how well that works.

Cindy Munford on December 12, 2008 at 9:06 AM

Jr. involved? That’s racist! As is any attempt to tie anyone in Dear Leader’s administration. Clearly we need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine and apply it to the intertubes as well.

/sarc

rbj on December 12, 2008 at 9:08 AM

Daley is still the big fish, but he’s managed to insulate himself by several layers.

a capella on December 12, 2008 at 9:10 AM

I am sorry if this comes off rude but what are the origins of those names? Raghuveer Nayak, Harish Bhatt, Rajinder Bedi are these all Indian names?

Cindy Munford on December 12, 2008 at 8:49 AM

You’re not alone. As I first scanned Ed’s post, I thought it was a story about the UN.

BuckeyeSam on December 12, 2008 at 9:16 AM

Among the attendees was a Blagojevich fundraiser already under scrutiny by federal investigators, Joliet pharmacist Harish Bhatt.

Any relation to Shakeel Bhat?

forest on December 12, 2008 at 9:19 AM

am sorry if this comes off rude but what are the origins of those names? Raghuveer Nayak, Harish Bhatt, Rajinder Bedi are these all Indian names?

Cindy Munford on December 12, 2008 at 8:49 AM
You’re not alone. As I first scanned Ed’s post, I thought it was a story about the UN.

BuckeyeSam on December 12, 2008 at 9:16 AM

I think South Asian, so most likely Indian, Pakistani, Kashmiri, Sikh…. in one of the photos of Blago he’s leading a parade, wearing a sash, and one of the men alongside him has a traditional Sikh turban on, while the other men don’t, so I’m thinking a mix of South Asian ethnicities.
And BTW…..This crisis would be a great time for Joe “you can’t walk into any Dunkin Donuts without a slight Indian accent” Biden to step up to the plate and show some leadership.

Red State State of Mind on December 12, 2008 at 9:20 AM

Looks like his father is teaching him well…too bad, kids like him have a chance to change, but then he wouldn’t be a democrat.
Democrats will never change…their first instinct is to connive.

right2bright on December 12, 2008 at 9:22 AM

The entire rotten edifice of Illinois politics has started to crumble. I doubt anyone connected to it will come up clean…

Remember to toss the whole MSM cabal into this mix.

If there is a another rotten edifice that deserves to crumble, it’s Old Media.

They pulled out all the stops to get The One elected and in the process burned what remained of their credibility.

Bruno Strozek on December 12, 2008 at 9:22 AM

Re-open Alcatraz.

Akzed on December 12, 2008 at 9:25 AM

I think South Asian, so most likely Indian, Pakistani, Kashmiri, Sikh

did a little research on Wiki, and it looks like these families are from northern India , and some are Sikh or related in some way.

Red State State of Mind on December 12, 2008 at 9:25 AM

jesse jackson sr. will have a tough time holding his tongue. this will be fun.

kelley in virginia on December 12, 2008 at 9:32 AM

hope JJ Jr isn’t involved. He is such a nice person.

kanda on December 12, 2008 at 8:45 AM

Yes, he is articulate and…em-em-ah,ah,ah… “clean”.

Yoop on December 12, 2008 at 9:32 AM

The smell of Chicago politics simmering over an open flame. A choir of singers Rezko Blago Emanuel as the three wise men or the three stooges. And the sounds of saint Barry and little Jackson singing I KNOW NOTHING NOW or EVER. Hope no one goes swimming in the frozen lake or takes a flyer from the 9th.floor, prior to their showtime.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

nowhiners on December 12, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Three cheers for Patrick Fitzgerald, for shining a light on Chicago politics.

It’s just a shame, it came so late in the election cycle.

Now, we’re stuck with these scumbags in the White House.

franksalterego on December 12, 2008 at 9:34 AM

Assymetric politics.

whitetop on December 12, 2008 at 9:43 AM

but according to tradition, patrick fitzgerald will offer his resignation on 1/20/09. will obama accept it? or appoint one of his own hacks to the position thereby sweeping all this under the rug?

i bet he accepts & says to the stupid media & public “well, he wanted to resign”. and goodbye to the investigation.

kelley in virginia on December 12, 2008 at 9:43 AM

They stole Illinois from Nixon and changed history…
mankai on December 12, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Who is the “they” you refer too? I thought President John Kennedy won Illinois fair and square. The vote was certified right?

kanda on December 12, 2008 at 9:44 AM

Guess who the “Ex” is that Obama is “seperated” from… and it’s not, sadly, Michele-O…

Ex-Obama Fund-Raiser Was Close to Illinois Governor, but Kept Ties Separate

Shivas Irons on December 12, 2008 at 9:50 AM

Who is the “they” you refer too? I thought President John Kennedy won Illinois fair and square. The vote was certified right?

kanda on December 12, 2008 at 9:44 AM

The 1960 Election results were very close in many states, including Illinois. Saying the Election was “certified” won’t make believers out of those that still think the Cook County ballot #s were rigged.

Keep in mind this is a SLATE article, but here’s a recap of what happened in the weeks after the General Election, along with links to more info and opinions.

http://www.slate.com/id/91350/

Red State State of Mind on December 12, 2008 at 9:53 AM

I think South Asian, so most likely Indian, Pakistani, Kashmiri, Sikh….

Red State State of Mind on December 12, 2008 at 9:20 AM

Wait, am I to understand that non US citizens* may be involved in fundraising for Democratic Party candidates?

That cannot possibly be true. Especially if a Clinton is part of the Administration. They would never take Asian money. Or Arab money. Ever.

*(I’m assuming, it may be that they are second, third or more generation US citizens)

rbj on December 12, 2008 at 9:56 AM

Wait, am I to understand that non US citizens* may be involved in fundraising for Democratic Party candidates?

That cannot possibly be true. Especially if a Clinton is part of the Administration. They would never take Asian money. Or Arab money. Ever.

*(I’m assuming, it may be that they are second, third or more generation US citizens)

rbj on December 12, 2008 at 9:56 AM

I’m not doubting that they are American citizens. I’m just very curious to see where all of this leads to, if anywhere.. at the very least, it’s making December interesting politically. If the Blago thing leads to significant corruption being brought to life and eradicated, that’s a great thing. And i don’t really care if it is Dem corruption or Rep corruption, it would still stink! HOWEVER, seeing some Dems twisting in the wind is fun to watch, given all the comments aimed at Republicans and their scandals a few years back.

Red State State of Mind on December 12, 2008 at 10:01 AM

I am just amazed. O.M.G. You know, this probably happens EVERYWHERE but maybe it’s just more pervasive in IL.

Just imagine the shenanigans behind the presidency!!

This is going to continue to get uglier and uglier. Someone, sometime WILL spill the beans.

Oink on December 12, 2008 at 10:05 AM

“You woke up this morning
Got yourself a gun,
Mama always said you’d be
The Chosen One.

the_nile on December 12, 2008 at 10:19 AM

My husband and I are going to be moving in with my newly widowed mother-in-law…who lives in Triple J’s district.
They are/were no fans of his.
I’m certainly that my f-i-l is watching all of this from on high and cackling.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 12, 2008 at 10:35 AM

It’s all one big Mafia, isn’t it?

The Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves.

PattyJ on December 12, 2008 at 11:04 AM

The entire rotten edifice of Illinois politics has started to crumble. I doubt anyone connected to it will come up clean, and right now it looks as though a lot of people will wind up in prison.

Maybe the laid off UAW workers can become prison guards for the new prisons to be built in Illinois to handle the influx.

txdoc on December 12, 2008 at 11:07 AM

It’s all one big Mafia, isn’t it?

The Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves.

PattyJ on December 12, 2008 at 11:04 AM

It’s pretty disgusting. And, our founders were generally selfless and noble men. Perspective helps, though- most of the founders had their own flaws, webs of influence, financial dealings etc.

Not trying to slam the founders- Just noting that human nature hasn’t really changed. Part of the founder’s success was recognizing the dangers of power, money, etc. and constructing a system that tried to counter these influences for the public good.

cs89 on December 12, 2008 at 11:10 AM

I like Ed’s speculation on the prosecutor’s motives. In my view, waiting until after Jesse Jr. gets the appointment causes the US Government as an institution to be less credible and less able to function. But anyway, let us all take a moment to thank that visionary senator from AZ who reached across the aisle to clean up corruption in political finance.

Mark30339 on December 12, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Fitz moved when he did because Rahm told him to. They did not want J.J.Jr. named to Obama’s Senate seat and knew it was coming down the pike since Jackson’s handlers had no problem with meeting Blago’s demands. This happens everyday but Blago got caught.

The real question is how involved is Rahm. Nothing would be finer than to see him have to give up his post for The Black Caesar before even getting to the White House.

grdred944 on December 12, 2008 at 11:37 AM

There’s no way Jesse Jackson Jr. will get that Senate Seat with all of this coming out. Blago was arranging all this fund-raising for himself (when he’s not on the ballot) BEFORE the 2008 election, with Jackson’s BROTHER? Since Blagojevich has already been indicted, Jonathan Jackson might also be indicted soon, and there is no way the brother of an indicted person will be appointed to the Senate by another indicted person!

This stinks to high heaven–will the stench reach up to the Messiah?

Steve Z on December 12, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Fitz moved when he did because Rahm told him to. They did not want J.J.Jr. named to Obama’s Senate seat and knew it was coming down the pike since Jackson’s handlers had no problem with meeting Blago’s demands. This happens everyday but Blago got caught.

With Rahm Emmanuel admitting to “multiple meetings” with Blagojevich, I don’t think it was Emmanual who tipped off Fitzgerald. If Emmanuel knew he would be wiretapped, and would be Chief of Staff in an Obama Administration, why would he bring down Blagojevich and attract unwelcome attention to himself, and by ricochet to Obama?

Fitzgerald has been investigating Rezko and Blagojevich for months, and probably has MANY informants, including some Republicans who might hold a grudge against the whole Chicago machine gang. Fitzgerald probably had to pull the trigger when he did because Blagojevich was on the verge of making the appointment, and it’s much easier to stop that by arresting the “appointer” beforehand than removing a tainted Senator from office when his party has 58 Senate seats.

Fitz probably has a lot more information than he’s releasing right now, but he needs to get all his ducks in a row by January 20. This could get really interesting!

Steve Z on December 12, 2008 at 11:55 AM

The only rational assumption about this is that they are ALL guilty.

American politics has become a cesspool of crime.

Why do you think all national politicians are weathly beyond imagination after a few years in office. Are they all ultra-shrewd investors?

And Obama is no better or worse than all of them. Why do you think Michelle got a raise from about 135K per year to 300K per year when the Fool won his Senate seat, as just one small example. Note that the Fool has never done a lick of work in his life, but made a $4M income last year (mostly from book sales for books nobody has read). He didn’t make $4M by operating a gas station, that’s for sure.

notagool on December 12, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Sounds like it, but it seems to me the Dems are largely a coalition of minorities, ethnic, sexual, and otherwise. The last names will often reflect that.

JiangxiDad on December 12, 2008 at 8:54 AM

Translation: Graft, greed, and ill-placed money transcend all artificial boundaries humans place upon themselves.

This does explain why the follow the money sites were getting such big hits on “Raghuveer Nayak” — his contributions seemed relatively unnoteworthy when compared to the three Madoffs, and his spectrum of political contributions included both McCain and Obama.

unclesmrgol on December 12, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Jackson Jr. was giving a press conference yesterday and tried to quote MLK. “Judge me on the content of my character” JJ said.

Well, okay then.

canditaylor68 on December 12, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Raghuveer Nayak, Harish Bhatt, Rajinder Bedi are these all Indian names?

They are part of a very powerful indian organization that has been fedding from the state trough for years.

Add to the list Amrish Mahajan, CEO of Mutual Bank, Rezko’s banker and Obama’s real estate financer, whose wife has been indicted for stealing taxpayer money through her no-bid contract with the state.

The Mahajans have used Patty Blago to buy and sell properties totaling $5.7 million.

Sensible Mom on December 12, 2008 at 5:31 PM