How much larger will the scandal surrounding Rod Blagojevich grow? According to a footnote in the affadavit filed by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the sky could be the limit. Convicted political fixer Tony Rezko has been singing to investigators, and his connections reach all the way to the White House:
A footnote to the 76-page criminal complaint and affidavit charging Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) with soliciting bribes confirms what has long been rumored — that a former longtime friend and fundraiser for President-elect Barack Obama is talking to federal prosecutors in hopes of a reduced sentence.
Antoin “Tony” Rezko’s offer to provide authorities with evidence of others’ wrongdoing is “not complete,” and prosecutors are working to corroborate the claims he has made so far, the footnote said.
Rezko, a 53-year-old developer, was convicted in June of 16 criminal counts, including fraud, money laundering and abetting bribery. He is in custody awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors depicted Rezko at trial as a fixer for Blagojevich and the man to see to secure a high-level appointment with the governor’s administration. Rezko had been a longtime fundraiser for Blagojevich and other Illinois politicians, including Obama.
The Washington Post spends the next six paragraphs stating and analyzing Fitzgerald’s statement from Tuesday that nothing in the affadavit has anything to do with Barack Obama. They coo over how “unusual” it is for prosecutors to issue those kinds of statements, but that ignores the context of Fitzgerald’s statement. Reporters peppered him with questions about Obama and his potential connections to the scandal, and Fitzgerald told them to read the affadavit, because everything he had was in there.
Obviously, this is an ongoing investigation, and Fitzgerald will go where the evidence leads. Thus far, it has led to Blagojevich, although it seems unlikely that Rezko has any connection to the Illinois governor’s attempts to sell Obama’s Senate seat; that had to come from another source. Rezko will have plenty of information on other potential instances of corruption involving Illinois politics, and everyone with whom Rezko worked could be implicated.
Obama and Rezko worked together for more than ten years in Illinois politics. If Rezko was as dirty as a jury verdict states and as federal prosecutors believe, how likely is it that anyone employing him was squeaky clean? Their political association lasted over ten years, during the period when Rezko was corrupting state politics. It’s certainly possible that Rezko’s corruption didn’t involve Obama, but to assume it didn’t seems far too credulous by half, especially with the present example of Illinois politics before us now.
If Rezko’s singing, many politicians are sweating. Obama may be one of them. Let’s see what happens before being dismissive of the possibility.
A former Illinois real estate specialist says FBI agents have questioned him about a Chicago property that had been bought by convicted felon Tony Rezko’s wife and later sold to the couple’s next-door neighbor, Sen. Barack Obama.
The real estate specialist, Kenneth J. Conner, said bank officials replaced an appraisal review he prepared on the property and FBI agents were investigating in late 2007 whether the Rezko-Obama deal was proper.
“Agents and I talked about payoff, bribe, kickback for a long time, though it took them only a short number of minutes of talking with me while looking at the appraisal to acknowledge what they already seemed to know: The Rezko lot was grossly overvalued,” Mr. Conner told The Washington Times Monday.
“Rezko paid the asking price on the same day Obama paid $300,000 less than the asking price to the same seller for his adjacent mansion,” he said. “This begs the question of payoff, bribe, kickback.”
Rezko’s singing. The only thing we don’t know is the extent of the tune — and this at least suggests that has several verses.