Up to now, the only member of the incoming Obama administration worried about ties to Rod Blagojevich was Rahm Emanuel. Today, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that another key appointment by Barack Obama hasn’t told the complete truth about his work for the disgraced governor of Illinois. Eric Holder, who already will face questions about his role in the controversial Marc Rich pardon and the deportation of Elian Gonzales, left off a key role on his resumé:
Before Eric Holder was President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be attorney general, he was Gov. Blagojevich’s pick to sort out a mess involving Illinois’ long-dormant casino license.
Blagojevich and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder’s role as “special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board” — a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington, D.C. law firm up to $300,000.
Holder, however, omitted that event from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week — an oversight he plans to correct after a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry, Obama’s transition team indicated late Tuesday.
Team Obama claims that Holder merely forgot about this part of his work experience, but that doesn’t wash. Holder completed the questionnaire after Blagojevich’s arrest on December 9th. With all of the attendant publicity, how likely was it that Holder forgot his work with Blagojevich — especially on casino investigations, where one might expect to find a cesspool of corruption?
Not bloody likely. It looks a lot more like Holder wanted to minimize his connections to Blagojevich and hoped people would forget about it. Reading the Sun-Times report, it’s easy to see why, too. Blagojevich had named crony and fundraiser Christopher Kelly to the Gaming Board, who would later face charges of corruption. Kelly’s business partner was Tony Rezko. Remember him? He’s the man singing to the feds about corruption in Illinois after being convicted on multiple counts of corruption himself. Kelly and Rezko had interests connected to the Rosemount casino; they had options on land next to the site to build a hotel.
The Gaming Board refused to hire Holder, concerned about his connections to Blagojevich and his apparent mandate to make sure that Kelly and Rezko got their casino. That’s the verdict from retired FBI agent and Gaming Board commissioner Jim Wagner, who said that they viewed Holder’s appointment as a means to secure the interests of Rezko, Kelly, and Blagojevich. Wagner wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to probe Holder’s relationship to Blagojevich in this manner — and that gives a clear explanation of Holder’s omission on his questionnaire.
Remember that cesspool of corruption I mentioned? Looks like it existed after all — and the corruptocrat Blagojevich felt comfortable in appointing Holder to look after his interests, and Kelly’s, and Rezko’s. Maybe we should find out why.