Barack Obama’s Mob

Big Media waking up? We wrote on April 30, 2007 Will Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald Destroy the Obama Campaign?about the pending doom facing the Barack Obama campaign. Here is what we wrote:

The national media are missing the big picture in their coverage of the hundred-million dollar plus scandal involving Barack Obama and his friend of 17 years, major donor, former Finance Committee Co-Chair and now indicted slumlord.

Debate moderator Brian Williams asked Obama about the scandal during last Thursday’s first Democratic Candidates for President debate. But Williams did not reference the political implications of the Obama scandal: the trial of Obama’s decades long friend and major donor and fundraiser will coincide with the 2008 primary calendar.

“Will Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald Destroy The Obama Campaign?” The legendary Patrick Fitzgerald indicted and convicted top Vice President Cheney aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Fitzgerald has now set his relentless prosecutorial eyes on a new target.

Fitzgerald’s United States Federal Prosecutor Office for Illinois has filed a 65 page indictment of Antoin “Tony” Rezko .

The trial has been scheduled for February 25, 2008 by U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve. Judge Eve called the trial date of Febuary 25, 2008 a firm date. The trial preparations and news will coincide with the first Democratic Primaries and Caucuses in January and February 2008. The headlines are sure to draw attention to Obama’s shady deals with Rezko in the purchase of Obama’s $1.65 million house.

This weekend Big Media began to catch up on this story: “Rezko remains part of the history that is likely to trail Obama into the presidential campaign. His federal trial is scheduled to begin in February, during the opening rounds of the 2008 Democratic primary season.”

What is shaking drowsy Big Media from their Big Sleep? After beating up on Hillary about Norman Hsu the Washington Post finally discovered that Hsu was generous to Obama too. “Federal Election Commission records show that Hsu gave $5,000 to Obama’s Hopefund PAC in connection with the fundraiser and that people publicly identified with Hsu and his companies gave an additional $19,500 to the PAC in 2005 and 2006.”

Another shake to Big Media’s Big Sleep came last week:

A man who has long been dogged by charges that the bank his family owns helped finance a Chicago crime figure will host a Windy City fund-raiser tonight for Sen. Barack Obama.

Alexi Giannoulias, who became Illinois state treasurer last year after Obama vouched for him, has pledged to raise $100,000 for the senator’s Oval Office bid.

Before he promised to raise funds for Obama, Giannoulias bankrolled Michael “Jaws” Giorango, a Chicagoan twice convicted of bookmaking and promoting prostitution.

Giannoulias is so tainted by reputed mob links that several top Illinois Dems, including the state’s speaker of the House and party chairman, refused to endorse him even after he won the Democratic nomination with Obama’s help.

Giannoulias was the bank’s vice president and chief loan officer for most of the more than $15 million in loans.

Recall, Obama’s other long time friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko was widely known as about to be indicted when Rezko bought and paid for a yard attached to a house Obama could not afford. This allowed Obama, in what he wishes to wave away as a “boneheaded” move, to purchase the mansion he calls home. With this Rezko history fresh in everyone’s mind, has Obama steered himself away from Giannoulias? No.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias as the Great Gatsby party scene unfolded before him on Winfrey’s meadow under a gorgeous sky. Real celebrities mingled with Obama’s best donors and bundlers rewarded for their fund-raising efforts with a star-studded afternoon.”

Giannoulias perhaps is not aware that the Great Gatsby made his money in crime family bootlegging and that the Fitzgerald novel was a foreshadowing of the grimmer mob epic The Godfather when Giannoulias made that ill-chosen reference.

We have previously written about Giannoulias in The Senator From Rezko, Part II. Quoting a Chicago Tribune article Critics: Obama Endorsements Counter Calls For Clean Government we wrote

“But Obama’s record of local endorsements — one measure of how he has used his nascent political clout — has drawn criticism from those who say it reflects his deference to Chicago’s established political order and runs counter to his public calls for clean government.”

“In the 2006 Democratic primary, for example, Obama endorsed first-time candidate Alexi Giannoulias for state treasurer despite reports about loans Giannoulias’ family-owned Broadway Bank made to crime figures. Records show Giannoulias and his family had given more than $10,000 to Obama’s campaign, which banked at Broadway.”

“Obama endorsed former Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd), calling her “a very early supporter of my campaign.” Tillman was then under fire for her stewardship of the scandal-plagued Harold Washington Cultural Center, where contracts benefited members of her family.”

Obama’s real history is catching up with him. This past week the L.A. Times had a solid profile of Obama called Obama: A Fresh Face Or An Old-School Tactician?

Here are excerpts from the L.A. Times article reminiscent of our article Obama’s Dirty Mud Politics:

He managed to burnish a reformer’s reputation while swimming in the muddy waters of special-interest- infested state politics.

He worked on a nice-guy image while practicing the hardball and brawling tactics of Chicago-style politics.

Now, promoting himself as a fresh face on the national political stage, proclaiming his distance from lobbyists and the Washington culture of special interests, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has to contend with his own history.

From Chicago to Springfield, his past is filled with decidedly old-school political tactics — a history of befriending powerful local elders, assisting benefactors and special interests, and neutralizing rivals.

Obama may be packaged as something new among presidential contenders, but in this town where politics is played like a blood sport he fit right in.

Our explorations into the real Barack Obama will continue in Barack Obama’s Mob, Part II


28 thoughts on “Barack Obama’s Mob

  1. admin., you have been right on this rezko thing for the longest. i hope the big media will finnally catch on and nationally report this. it is about time!!!!

  2. Great Admin. I am glad the media is starting to get a little clue…about time we had some truthiness on Obama. Anyone who wins a seat in Chicago politics is no Mr. Purity. What a joke!

  3. The answer depends on whether bi media is willing to take down the candidate they helped to create. I believe they will avoid the story as long as they can, because it makes them look foolish for having supported him. But if it comes out in places like Druge, etc. they will be forced to respond. As you may recall Leslie Moonves had his Hamlet moment in the Imus controversy, and when the advertising dollars moved away he blinked (sorry, poor choice of words after yesterday)

  4. The medias ‘job’ and mission is to create and destroy. Build up, and tear down. It’s like breathing, necessary to survive. This is what they do.
    This is partly why the media have a bias against Clinton, because she won’t break. And God knows they’ve tried.

    It would be unprecedented if the media didn’t turn on Obama in the end.
    And now they just got one more reason to go after him, Oprah!
    Two flies with one whack! It’s like a wet dream for the monster we call the Main Stream Media.

  5. Admin, I am having computer problems and did not see your full post. It is fixed and I now have. I withdraw what I said above. It looks like msm bloodhounds have finally picked up the scent! This should be interesting. I second the congratulations to you on this one, great detective work and great reporting. If they can give Pulitzer Prizes to air headed fashion reporters from WashPro, then surely they can give them to serious political commentators like you, except it would make them look bad.

  6. Our local political analyst, Daryl West of Brown Univ, RI, tonight, chose Hillary as the Dem Nominee.

    He backed his words of encouragement with his latest poll:

    Clinton 36%

    Obama 16%

    Edwards 7%

    He emphatically pointed to her flawlessly run campaign as part of his decision making process stating, “I doubt Hillary will be making any mistakes that could seriously impact her 2 to 1 lead over her closest rival, Barack Obama.”

  7. Who he?

    Per Hillaryland, that’s the Lawrence County, TN Executive, Paul Rosson, who I’m told just endorsed Clinton.

    Lawrence County, of course, is the storied home precinct of one Fred Thompson.

    “Small communities–like the county I represent–need a president that understands our struggles, and Hillary will be a partner we can count on in the White House,” Rosson said in a statement via the campaign.

  8. The problem with Obama?

    The central criticism of the Obama campaign, which worries his supporters and pleases his rivals, is that he had a chance to make his “movement” about something, and missed it.

    If there’s space for movement politics in this country right now, you’d think the movement in question would be the anti-war movement. But Obama, for a variety of reasons, chose to divorce his campaign and his surging popularity from anything that concrete, and focus it on his own story, his charisma and his ability to make change.

    So here’s a piece from a college paper in Missouri that kind of captures the perception that that isn’t working. Not to make too much of what seems like a single, rather grumpy report on a mid-level Obama staffer’s appearance on campus; but it captures a perception I’ve heard repeatedly over the last few weeks:

    “I thought it was pretty horrible,” said Macklin Rice, a senior studio art major. He “had the opportunity to lay out Obama’s platform and he didn’t. He kept talking about how he wants people to go out and knock door to door (to gain support for Obama), and there are 50 doors right here (in the audience).”

  9. Confrontation vs. compromise on healthcare

    Presidential politics is all about capitalizing on opportunities, and picking fights where you find them. So Hillary’s and Obama’s views on personal diplomacy, for instance, recently became a random flashpoint.

    And it does seem that Edwards’ confrontational words on healthcare policy, which come with an explicit criticism of Clinton, are also rather newfound, intensifying at least after her defense of lobbyists at the YearlyKos convention last month.

    “We fundamentally diagree about this and voters will have a choice,” Edwards said last week about his and Clintons’ views of the role of compromise. “My view is that if working with, compromising, sitting at the table with ins companies, drug companies, and their lobbyists would be successful, we’d have universal health care today. We don’t have it. And the reason we don’t have it is, it doesn’t work. You have to take these people on. You ahve to be willing to fight.”

    But in an interview back in February with Jonathan Singer from MyDD, Edwards sounded a totally different note, expressing the hope that his plan would pass because “it’s politically achievable because it makes some sense. I don’t think it will alienate a lot of moderate Republicans. And I think a lot of Republicans… I had a debate with Newt Gingrich in California a few months ago and he’s for universal healthcare. Not done the same way I’d do it, but he’s for universal healthcare.”

    The interview continues:

    Singer: …also bringing in both corporations and labor and healthcare groups and doctors. Not getting into the specifics at all, but how do you see bringing in everyone so it’s not just an us versus them, because us versus them didn’t work in the past?

    Edwards: I think you try to bring everybody to the table. You want their participation, you want to make the system work for everybody. I think there’s a difference between a healthcare plan that builds on the existing system but deals with some of its deficiencies and problems as opposed to a complete new way of doing healthcare in America. The latter will engender huge opposition. And it will engender a lot of just plain political opposition. If on the other hand you’re taking the system that exists, dealing with the problems with it, making sure everybody gets covered, it’s just much more likely to be achievable.

    Now Edwards has never claimed to be adopting anything other than the incrementalist approach — shared by Clinton and Obama — that he describes above. But the rhetoric of confrontation, the strict limit on seats at this much-discussed metaphorical table, is just entirely absent.

  10. Big financial loss for Clinton campaign, but they’re doing the right thing!!!

    Clinton to Return All Hsu-Tainted Money
    By Patrick Healy

    Updated Report
    Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign announced tonight that it would return approximately $850,000 to about 260 donors who had been recruited or tapped by Norman Hsu, the disgraced Clinton campaign fundraiser who recently fled arrest and is now under investigation for his fundraising practices.
    The Clinton campaign also disclosed tonight that it had decided to begin running criminal background checks on its bundlers — the dozens of individuals who raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors on behalf of a candidate, as Mr. Hsu had done for Mrs. Clinton. A Clinton adviser said that “vigorous additional vetting” of the bundlers, including the criminal checks, would begin this week, and that the campaign was hiring additional staff for that purpose.
    Mr. Hsu’s mounting legal problems have created the Clinton campaign’s first major in-house controversy. While Mr. Hsu donated $600,000 to an array of candidates over the last three years, he had become first and foremost a Clinton fundraiser for this presidential cycle — one of the so-called “Hillraisers,” who held events for Mrs. Clinton and aided her in the highly competitive money race with a leading Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
    The Clinton adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal campaign deliberations, said that Mrs. Clinton “did not want the Hsu issue to be a distraction for the campaign, and wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
    “We wanted to get a few days ahead of any problems that come out, rather than be a few days behind them,” the adviser said.
    The adviser declined to comment on whether the Clinton campaign had determined that Mr. Hsu violated federal election law by recruiting people to donate to the Clinton campaign and then paying those people to cover their donations. Some generous donors associated with Mr. Hsu have been revealed to be people who appear to be from fairly modest backgrounds.
    The F.B.I. has begun investigating whether Mr. Hsu paid people to give money to Mrs. Clinton and other candidates, the Associated Press reported yesterday, quoting a law enforcement official. At least some of those donors may have been investors in a shadowy business venture that Mr. Hsu had been running.
    “In light of recent events and allegations that Mr. Norman Hsu engaged in an illegal investment scheme, we have decided out of an abundance of caution to return the money he raised for our campaign,” said Howard Wolfson, a Clinton campaign spokesman.
    A spokesman for former Senator John Edwards’ presidential campaign said that it began doing criminal background checks on bundlers after Mr. Hsu’s troubles came to light.
    Mr. Hsu has been hospitalized since last week in Colorado, where he surfaced after failing to show up for a California court hearing days before. Mr. Hsu had been wanted in California since 1992 when he missed another court date, and apparently fled to his native Hong Kong, instead of face up to three years in prison for a fraud conviction.
    The Clinton campaign made its announcement around 6:40 p.m., shortly after the network evening news shows had begun on the East Coast. The timing was roughly the same on August 29 when Clinton advisers disclosed they were returning Mr. Hsu’s $23,000 in personal donations to Clinton campaign accounts. Clinton aides, who have been trying to contain the political damage from the Hsu revelations, have been monitoring the number of stories that the network evening news has run on Mr. Hsu — only a handful thus far.
    The presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has just issued a statement saying that it would refund $850,000 in contributions that were collected by Norman Hsu, the major Democratic donor who turned out to be a fugitive and whose investments are under federal investigation.
    The statement, by Howard Wolfson, her top aide, follows:
    In light of recent events and allegations that Mr. Norman Hsu engaged in an llegal investment scheme, we have decided out of an abundance of caution to return the money he raised for our campaign.
    This week approximately 260 donors will receive refunds totaling approximately $850,000 from the campaign.
    Mr. Hsu donated to numerous charities and more than two dozen candidates and committees. Despite conducting a thorough review of public records, our campaign, like these others, were unaware of Mr. Hsu’s decade-plus old warrant.
    To help ensure against this type of situation in the future, our campaign will also institute vigorous additional vetting procedures on our bundlers, including criminal background checks. In any instances where a source of a bundler’s income is in question, the campaign will take affirmative steps to verify its origin.

  11. Kostner,

    Yes, that was a RI poll done by Brown University political analyst, Darryl West.

    Released on Live Evening News tonight on our nbc affiliate Channel 10..

    Mrs. S.

  12. I agree, there is always more money out there that isn’t going to be problematic.

    First rule of good business. Stop the hemorrhaging,, suck it up, and move on.

    Thanks for the Hsu update, Kostner. I feel better prepared to answer rather than getting blindsided by a rabid rival supporter.

    Mrs. S.

  13. Hahaha. Case in point about Hillary’s lemonade. There was just an Obama diary on dkos geared at rallying his online troops. Someone posted the Hillary story about her returning all Hsu connected funds. They posted the article as criticism of Hillary but the diarist assumed it was a pro-Hillary poster and wanted to know if it was neccessary to post this here. Then they realized their misread. How funny!

  14. mj, amiga: I saw that, too. I thought it was hilarious. The guy who posted that comment ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he certainly is one. I was tempted to drop the latest Hillary numbers in that diary, but then I thought better of it. Let ’em have their fun.

  15. Hillary is doing absolutely the right thing by returning all the bundled money and instituting extra vetting. Every campaign has controversies to handle, and good campaigns don’t let them fester.

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