Blago-Rahma: Immunity grant sought by Jackson fundraiser

The Chicago Tribune gives both Rod Blagojevich and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr some bad news.  “Individual D”, the person pressured by the Illinois governor to cough up some cash for Jackson’s appointment to the Senate, has requested immunity from Patrick Fitzgerald in return for cooperation:

A key figure in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s alleged scheme to sell a U.S. Senate seat has sought immunity from federal authorities in return for his cooperation in their ongoing probe, the Tribune has learned.

Raghuveer P. Nayak, an Oak Brook businessman and political fundraiser, is the unnamed “Individual D” who prosecutors say was being squeezed by the governor for campaign cash in return for appointing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, sources said.

Investigators appeared at Nayak’s Oak Brook home the morning the FBI arrested Blagojevich, the sources said. Nayak was among a number of people connected to the case who were contacted by federal agents that day.

Nayak has not been accused of wrongdoing and declined to comment. It is unclear what information he can provide to authorities, who said they had more work to do after moving quickly to interrupt the governor’s alleged scheme.

When a witness wants immunity, it’s usually because they’ve committed some crimes.  They get immunity by providing information that convicts others of bigger crimes.  Nayak must know that Fitzgerald has enough on him to make life very uncomfortable over the next several years, and his request signals that he’s willing to cut deals to minimize that as much as possible.

Jackson has been named by sources as Candidate #5, the one Blagojevich considered most willing to play ball but unsure of whether he could provide the cash Blagojevich sought.  Ten days ago, the Tribune reported that Nayak and other fundraisers close to both Blagojevich and Jackson arranged a fundraiser for Blagojevich as a means to prove Jackson’s value and get him the nomination.  Nayak, Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi, and backer Harish Bhatt held the fundraiser on December 5th, just three days before the feds nabbed Blagojevich.

If Nayak has suddenly decided to talk, Jackson and Blagojevich may have a lot more explaining to do themselves.  Jackson’s brother Jonathan attended the event and had been a former business partner of Nayak.  Blagojevich also attended, perhaps to evaluate Jackson’s value to him before settling on the Senate appointment.  That’s an odd coincidence, under the circumstances, and I’m betting Fitzgerald doesn’t believe in coincidences — at least not in Illinois politics.