[Note: Democratic Party debate tonight. CNN. 8:00 p.m. (ET). We’ll be here – join us.]
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Like a circus clown whose sole purpose is to distract the audience while the roustabouts change props for the next act, Barack Obama is doing his worse to distract from Saturday’s on-line revelation that Obama’s name has oozed out of REZKO trial documents.
Obama fled on Saturday from Nevada, abandoning his dejected supporters to the cold chill of defeat. Obama’s frenzied flight to Chicago was puzzling. More puzzling – Obama launched an attack on Bill Clinton, the most popular Democrat alive. No surprise: Big Media was distracted – not a mention was made on the airwaves to inform American voters of the pending Cloverfield named REZKO.
Will the strategy of distraction continue to work? What did the Chicago Sun-Times REZKO article say? (link HERE) What are the political ramifications of these latest REZKO revelations? What are the criminal implications of these latest REZKO revelations?
Come Watson! The game is afoot.
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On Sunday morning Chicago awoke to a Sun-Times front page, two-thirds of which featured a picture of Obama with the blaring headline Obama Surfaces In Rezko Case.
Like police examining a kidnap ransom note we can conclude several ugly implications for Obama just by examining the mere existence of this Sunday article.
Conclusion 1: There are 4 authors of this particular article. This confirms our statement back in June 2007 that this story is not going away. The Chicago Sun-Times is not assigning 4 valued reporters to the REZKO beat because they think this is a dead story. Someone smells a Pulitzer.
Conclusion 2: It’s a front page story. The Obama defense that slumlord REZKO is irrelevant to this election died on Sunday. The Illinois primary is on February 5, 2008.
Conclusion 3: This is breaking news. New and troubling facts have emerged. “Obama surfaces in Rezko’s federal corruption case.” This is not an “old” story.
Conclusion 4: Deep Throat (see below).
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Watergate started with a piece of tape on a door. Republicans for months said “nothing there”. Ohio Republicans were thrown out en masse in 2006 due to a “beanie baby” seller turned coin dealer. Republicans for months said “nothing there.” In both cases hometown newspapers bought the facts to light and the corrupt politicians were bought low. In both cases national Big Media outlets ignored the story – until the story could be ignored no longer.
The 2006 Ohio coin scandal is particularly instructive in the Obama/REZKO scandal. In Ohio a corrupt “fixer” donated money and backdoor favors to politicians. The coin scandal became a series of separate yet connected scandals. A turning point in the overall case was the revelation that political contributions to candidates had been reimbursed. The Chicago Sun-Times has now crossed that very threshold.
This weekend’s Sun-Times REZKO/Obama article is a booming echo of Ohio’s Noe:
Obama is not named in the Dec. 21 court document. But a source familiar with the case confirmed that Obama is the unnamed “political candidate” referred to in a section of the document that accuses Rezko of orchestrating a scheme in which a firm hired to handle state teacher pension investments first had to pay $250,000 in “sham” finder’s fees. From that money, $10,000 was donated to Obama’s successful run for the Senate in the name of a Rezko business associate, according to the court filing and the source.
Rezko, who was part of Obama’s senatorial finance committee, also is accused of directing “at least one other individual” to donate money to Obama and then reimbursing that individual — in possible violation of federal election law.
The Sun-Times makes it clear that Obama is now not accused of knowing about these fake contributions. Indeed the Sun-Times prints the Obama response that the U.S. prosecutor in Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, has NOT “contacted the senator or any of his representatives about these matters.” This should not be viewed as good news in the Obama camp however.
First of all, if Obama has not been “interviewed” by the prosecutors already, Obama will probably be interviewed by the efficient Prosecutor Fitzgerald before the trial opens on February 25. Also, the facts in the case indicate that Obama has some ‘splaining to do to prosecutors and the voters. (We’ll track down the full extent of the Obama connections that are emerging (including the L.A. Times article) in a later post, including Michelle Obama’s role in this drama.) The L.A. Times in their weekend write up on REZKO discussed a contributor whose son Obama hired as an intern.
According to the document, Rezko used a business associate to funnel $10,000 to Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in March 2004 — money that came from an alleged $112,000 kickback intended to benefit the Chicago businessman.
But the government’s reference to the political candidate amounts to the first time Obama’s identity is hinted at in the case against Rezko. It raises the prospect Obama’s name will surface in Rezko’s trial, an unwanted distraction as the first-term senator from Illinois seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.
In a hearing last week, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said she anticipated the trial, set to open Feb. 25, would last three to four months. Federal prosecutors said they expected to call 23 witnesses.
A three to four month trial in April, after the Democratic nomination is settled? Since April we have implored Obama, for the sake of Democrats, to explain fully, with documentation, his entanglements with indicted slumlord Antoin “Tony” Rezko. Our pleas fell on deaf Obama ears. Perhaps prosecutor Fitzgerald will have better luck. Prosecutor Fitzgerald has a persistent method to his investigations:
Fitzgerald’s strategy in pressing public corruption cases here has been obvious. He indicts underlings and squeezes them to “flip”—provide evidence against higher-ups in exchange for leniency. In this way, the Operation Safe Road investigation moved up the ladder from clerks in the secretary of state’s vehicle services division all the way to former governor George Ryan, convicted last year on corruption charges.
Obama’s biggest worry right now has to be these ominous words from the Sun-Times article, a source familiar with the case confirmed . This means that someone is talking. Someone is sending a message. Someone is tapping Obama on the shoulder. At the very least, this someone is making sure the Obama/REZKO entanglements are discussed before the primary season is over.
Who is this Deep Throat assisting the Sun-Times “familiar with the case”? It’s not a rival campaign because this news would have come out earlier, before the Iowa caucuses. It’s not a prosecutor. Patrick Fitzgerald is well known as a prosecutor who does not allow or employ news “leaks” from his office. But somebody is talking. Somebody wants Obama’s attention. Someone is confirming that Obama is the “political candidate” referred to in the indictment. Perhaps that someone needs Obama’s help and is signaling the help is needed now – before the trial.
Rezko is set to go to trial Feb. 25. The revelation that Obama’s name could come up in court is a political headache he doesn’t need as he heads into a round of primaries that are likely to determine his party’s nomination for president.
The Illinois primary, along with over 20 other state primaries are on February 5, 2008. Obama has several questions directly relevant to his claim to be untouched by scandal and to his claim to be fit for the presidency.
Let’s put aside all the questions about personal corruption in the Obama/REZKO house purchase scheme and myriad other scandals and deals and entanglements (Hey we are dealing with a Chicago politician and what’s a $925,000 gift between friends anyway). How can Obama get out of this mess. Let’s help Obama:
Answer the below questions and you are home free Senator Obama (Journalists, ask the questions below and there might be a Pulitzer for you):
As a part time state senator and part time attorney Obama helped funnel tens of millions, if not over a hundred million dollars to Rezko’s company Rezmar. Most of this money funnelling was performed by the law firm Obama worked at.
Question Category 1: Produce the law firm billing records. Obama claims to have only worked on Rezmar business for a few hours. The billing records will confirm or refute that claim. Billing records will also answer what kind of due diligence the law firm performed in funnelling tens of millions of government dollars to REZKO companies. Billing records will also help answer questions about the conflicts the law firm had in funnelling those tens of millions of government dollars. For instance, several members of the law firm were also investors in REZKO companies. Who were these investors? How did the law firm resolve the conflict of the dual roles as investors in REZKO companies seeking and getting tens of millions of government dollars and the attorney role as officers of the court, fiduciary responsibilities and ethical requirements for attorneys? Assure us somehow that Rezko favors did not influence your public duties.
Question Category 2: Produce the state senate office records. Obama has claimed that he did not know the tenants in REZKO owned buildings – buildings Obama helped REZKO obtain tens of millions of government dollars to purchase – were without heat and essential services. Obama claims he did not know REZKO was a slumlord. Obama claims his office never received complaints. So the questions that would resolve these issues are: How did Obama process constitutent complaints? Are there any records of these consitutent complaints? If Obama ran such a shoddy state senate office that he did not know his constituents were suffering and that it was his best friend REZKO who was the cause of that suffering Obama is not qualified to be president. If Obama did in fact know about his suffering constituents and did nothing about it other than continue to accept money from his slumlord friend REZKO – Obama is not qualified to be president.
Obama can and should answer these basic questions. Obama should answer these basic questions tonight, at the debate. Obama certainly should answer these questions before the Florida primary. Obama certainly should answer these questions before the February 5 primaries.
If Obama does not answer these questions directly and with documentation, – that silence will in fact be the answer.
Big Media might even get interested.