Thomas Barton, Investigative Reporter
Chicago Tribune reporters John Chase and Jeff Coen are on-record claiming to have had access to all the Blagojevich wiretap tape recordings that were never made public.
The U.S Attorneys Office has gone on-record claiming that they did not give Chase or Coen access to the Blagojevich wiretap tapes and transcripts.
So, here's what we know for sure:
(1.) The Blagojevich wiretap tapes and transcripts are sealed by a federal protective order signed by Judge James Zagel. The only way to legally obtain them is from the feds.
(2.) Chase and Coen claim to have had accessed the recordings and have offered up a sample of taped conversations that were never made public as proof of possession.
(3.) The U.S. Attorney's Office insists that no one there provided the tapes or transcripts to anyone, including Chase and Coen.
Doesn't that mean Chase and Coen have confessed to being involved in the act of breaking a federal protective order signed by Judge Zagel?
Keep in mind that this isn't the first time Chase has received information as a result of someone acting above federal law. The existence of the federal wiretap made its way to Chase after someone in the Department of Justice broke the law and leaked it to him.
Why did U.S Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald enforce federal law when it involved New York Times reporter Judith Miller, but chose not to enforce federal law when it involved Chicago Tribune reporter John Chase?
Do the Chicago Tribune editors and reporters act with impunity outside of federal law?
And, hey, why are the Chicago and national media ignoring this story?
Does Judith Miller have any thoughts on the subject? We'll ask her.
<< Breaking News >>
Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Chief
In a stunning development, Chicago Review Press, publisher of "Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself out of the Governor's Office and into Prison," confessed to failing to fact-check the book.
Cynthia Sherry of Chicago Review Press recently went on the record stating that the publisher "trusts their authors," and that she "trusted the Chicago Tribune and their reporters so there was no need for her to fact-check the book."
Does that mean Chicago Review Press does not fact-check any of the books they publish?
Ms. Sherry also acknowledged that she didn't confirm that John Chase and Jeff Coen actually had access to the wiretap recordings they claim in the book.
Chicago Review Press' trust of the Tribune, Chase, and Coen is even more remarkable when you consider that Ms. Sherry, and others at Chicago Review Press, were provided verifiable information that should have insured that they take all precautions and thoroughly vet the claims Chase and Coen made.
That is, unless fact-checking the book didn't fit the publisher's agenda.
Did Chicago Review Press betray our trust?
What really should have Chicagoans scratching their heads is this: The Blagojevich legal team has remained silent as Chase and Coen tell the world there's nothing on the tapes that vindicate Blagojevich, and that the tapes prove his guilt.
Keep in mind, these are tapes that Blago and his lawyers claim they can't talk about. And, these are tapes that Chase and Coen could not have obtained legally, unless they recieved acsess from the feds. And the feds have denied giving them that access.
So, how is Blagojevich helped by silence?
Why are lawyers remaining silent?
Remember, the appeal they filed is (suppose to be) for the right to a new trial. Not for freedom.
No comment from Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky has been yet offered. Only the sound of crickets.
Sheldon where are you? Why aren't you representing your client, Rod Blagojevich?
Much more to come........
Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Chief
It's time for the U.S. Attorney in Chicago to reopen the criminal investigation of Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s attempt to purchase the U.S. Senate seat that Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of trying to sell to him.
After all, why are we to believe Jr. when he say's he did not try to buy the senate seat? He's a confessed liar.
Plus, Jackson is bipolar, right? So ask him again. Maybe this time he'll confess.
Don't forget: the prosecution has Jackson friends and allies, Raghuveer Nayak and Rajinder Bedi, ready to testify under oath that Jr. tried to buy the seat. And then there's Rod Blagojevich sitting in a federal prison for attempting to sell the Senate seat to Jr. What more does a prosecutor need?
Sounds like a slam dunk conviction. (Maybe that's the problem.)
If prosecutors want overkill, they can call John Chase and Jeff Coen to testify about the contents of the wiretap recordings - recordings that only John and Jeff were allowed to hear.
Keep in mind, the statute of limitations on this crime expires next December. It's time to act.
This would come as great news to Robert Blagojevich. He's expressed disappointment to Carol Marin of the Chicago Sun Times that the House Committee on Ethics would no longer be investigating Jackson's attempt to purchase the Senate seat, due to the fact that Jackson resigned from congress. (Which is like telling a teacher who sexually abused students that arrest is avoided by resigning.)
Robert Blagojevich, we at IP2P stand with you in your quest to have this fully investigated, and call on the DoJ to reopen the criminal investigation into Jackson's attempt to purchase the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
And furthermore, we urge Carol Marin and the Sun Times to get behind Robert in this worthy cause.
Let's all help Robert Blagojevich get the investigation into Jackson reopened. Let justice be served.
Another Mission Accomplished: Frawley joins Blago and Rezko in the Silence Chamber of Federal Prison
Thomas Barton, Illinois Pay-to-Play Political Commentator
On April 19, 2012, Federal Judge Ronald Guzman sentenced Daniel T. Frawley to one year and one day in federal prison. So Frawley joins Rezko and Blago in the Silence Chamber of federal prison until well after the November election. He reports to jail next August 20.
What Frawley knows about Rezko’s dealings with former Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama will be unavailable…until it’s irrelevant.
Let’s review Frawley’s puppet dance with the feds:
He pleads guilty to a crime after the statute of limitations had expired, and agrees to pay 4.4 million dollars restitution to the bank he defrauded.
He becomes a confidential informant in the case the U.S. Attorney’s office builds against Antoin “Tony” Rezko, but doesn’t testify at Rezko’s trial.
He is identified as CI2 in the motion to arrest Rezko, after Nadhmi Auchi sent Rezko enough money to cover those who put up assets for Tony’s bond. This causes the feds to suspect that Tony is about to jump bail and head back to the Middle East. So they arrest Tony.
The feds withhold a check for over three hundred thousand dollars made out to Frawley from Rezko, money that Frawley claims Rezko owes him. (So, where did that money go?)
Frawley is dragged through multiple postponements in his sentencing for the better part of a year, until the November ’12 election is close enough for Frawley to receive enough jail time to keep him in the Silence Chamber until the man Patrick Fitzgerald has been protecting for years is re-elected President.
Implausible explanation? Not when you step back and survey the pattern of the U.S. Attorney’s catch and release program with regard to those most closely associated with Rezko and Blago.
Frawley was guilty as charged for the crimes he committed years ago. He admitted that. But the way his case has been handled over those years calls into question the motives of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
Has it been about fighting crime? Or, more about protecting corruption at the highest level of the land?
Frawley’s been a dutiful puppet on federal strings. And here’s his pay-off:
Martin Rivers, Introducing Illinois PayToPlay’s Springfield Correspondent
Is a third Illinois governor in- a-row destined for a trip up-the-river to the Big House? That’s Blago on the left, on a bad hair day. Ryan is on the right. Is Pat Quinn, in the middle, the next Illinois governor to do the federal perp walk?
Pat sure looks like “Larry” of “Three Stooges” fame, if he’d let his hair grow out some.
Why could he be next in the conga line of incarcerated Land of Lincoln chief executives?
Well, first of all, here’s what Pat once had to say about “Moe,” AKA Blago:
"He's always been a person who's honest and one of integrity...I have confidence the governor does the right thing all the time."
That’s evidence of complicity, or stupidity. And Pat’s not stupid.
Then there’s Quinn’s continuing attachment to Antoin Rezko through his current Chief-of-Staff, Jack Lavin. Quoting the Chicago Tribune, here’s what that extreme-conservative, Republican web site, the Huffington Post, wrote about Lavin:
“Lavin served as Blagojevich's director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity after [convicted fundraiser Tony] Rezko recommended him for the post. Lavin once worked as the chief financial officer for Rezko's food-related business, and took more than $12,000 in donations from Rezko's firm while considering a run for elected office in 2001.”
Back on October 11, 2011, Illinois PayToPlay suggested that the professional journalists in the Chicago media pose these questions to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald:
“Is there any evidence to suggest that, while he was Rezko’s chief bean counter, Jack Lavin moved a $3,000,000 line item from the Panda Restaurant operated by Tony over into his Papa John’s Pizza books in order to help get a loan from GE Capital?
And then, as a follow-up:
Well, if you can’t answer that question, or won’t, then who kept Rezko’s second set of books for his Papa John’s Pizza store? And why have we never heard about that?”
Well, of course, that didn’t happen.
Illinois PayToPlay will soon be releasing information from a confidential informant, identified only as “CI2” (confidential informant #2) in the “Motion For Issuance Of An Arrest Warrant” for Rezko, filed on January 28, 2008 by Patrick Fitzgerald, that contains CI2’s allegation that Rezko’s CFO helped Tony R. cook the Papa John’s books in order to get that loan from G.E. Capital.
As the late Paul Harvey used to say – “Stand by…for more.”
Oh, and by the way, Fitz’s office has known of Lavin’s alleged involvement in the miracle bookkeeping incident for, at least, four years. And what have the feds done with that information?
Blago’s gone, but has anything really changed in the way the governor’s office down here in Springfield operates?
Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Chief, Illinois Pay-to-Play
The lead attorney for Eric Holder’s Department of Selective Justice in the Northeastern District of Northern Illinois has, for years, been sitting on taped conversations that outline how the McMahon companies in Chicago have long played games with city contracts.
Recently, the Sun Times put the McMahon’s in their journalistic crosshairs by citing a Daniel T. Frawley “Whistleblower” lawsuit that we, at IP2P, don’t believe exists. Now why would they do that?
Because these days the Times gets its marching orders from His Honor Mayor Emanuel, who is out to destroy the myth of the Daley Machine as a regime that made Chicago “the City that works”. (Meanwhile, the snoring Trib takes it's orders from Rip van Winkle.) Rahm aims to be heralded as the man who cleaned-up Chicago by revealing the true Daley image as having facilitated “the City that cheats”.
And cheat it does. The whole nation knows that. But the nation also assumes that its local branch of the U.S. Department of Justice is working hard to hinder the cheating. After all, aren’t the crooks of Cook County continually hunted by those intrepid FBI agents of Patrick “Elliott Ness” Fitz’s office, ever alert to the opportunity to stop crime sprees, a la Blago’s. That’s the meme anyway.
IP2P has recently received summaries of federally monitored conversations from years past that suggest a more accurate image of the local office of Holder’s Department of Selective Justice. This one suggests an investigative organization on a long voyeuristic trek when it comes to Chicago corruption. It hides in the shadows, listens in on conversations, and watches criminal activities for years as it waits for…waits for what?
It waits for a green light from incumbent politicos to signal when it’s politically expedient to take out a crooked politician, or a bent real estate speculator? Or, in the David Koschman case, it sits on evidence of a crooked police official who hindered the murder investigation, and thereby it, too, becomes complicit in the long denial of justice to Mrs. Nancy Koschman for the murder of her son. That’s not Ness-like behavior.
On several occasions, Fitzgerald has said that corruption can only stop when citizens come forward to report what they know. So should we at IP2P be good citizens and send what we’ve been given to Fitz for further, extensive, thorough, professional “investigation”? Why bother - they already have it, and have had it for years.
What about the U.S. Attorney’s office enforcing the law based on what they already know?
If not now – then when? When a politician says it’s “OK”?
Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter
The crime spree that plagued Illinois, and that was boldly brought to a stop by the sudden arrest of Governor Rod Blagojevich, is now officially over.
Blago is behind bars, and Patrick Fitzgerald’s mission is complete: Blago joins Rezko in the silence chamber of federal prison where the treasure trove of what they know about Illinois corruption, past and present, has been muted.
Gee, for a war against statewide crime, there sure aren’t many official casualties, except, of course, Illinois’ citizens.
We’ll never know what Blago meant in these audio clips where he talks (in language unsuitable for children) in cryptic terms about the relationship between then U.S. Senator Barack Obama and Antoin “Tony Rezko.”
(Video: H/T Citizen Wells News)
We’ll never know the extent of influence that the international billionaire financier in the photograph wielded over Tony, Blago, and Barack.
And, as soon as the two remaining Rezko Watchers highlighted in a recent piece in the Chicago Daily Observer receive their sentences this spring – unless sentencing is postponed yet again for Daniel Frawley and Daniel Mahru – they, too, will fade into silence, joining Bernard Barton, AKA John Thomas.
In the immortal words of Sonny & Cher…the beat goes on.
Jontel Kassidy, Senior Capital Correspondent
Since at least last January 22nd, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has known of Daniel Frawley’s claim that he gave Tony Rezko $400,000 in cash that Rezko then passed on to U.S. Senator Barack Obama. We believe, though, that that knowledge goes back much earlier.
In a December 11, 2011 Illinois Pay To Play (IP2P) article entitled “The Fitz Solution to Corruption: The Citizens Report It,” we noted that “While commenting on Blago’s prison sentence, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald repeated what has become for him a common theme: Illinois citizens are responsible for stopping corruption by reporting it to the authorities.”
Along with that article, IP2P posted a video clip wherein Fitzgerald stated that there needed to “be a change in the public’s attitude. People seem resigned to corruption at times and…they’re afraid to say ‘no’ when someone in power asks them for something they shouldn’t. The people in power should be afraid to ask.”
So it’s a fact that the U.S. Attorney has, on several occasions, encouraged average citizens to get involved in fighting corruption.
Well, we found one citizen who did just that, back on January 22nd – six weeks ago. Here’s the email thread the citizen sent.
From: Address Deleted
To: "Randall Samborn" <Address Deleted@usdoj.gov>, "Kimberly Nerheim" <Adress Deleted@usdoj.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:15:44 PM
Subject: Public outreach/safety.
Mr Randall Samborn and Ms. Kimberly Nerheim
I am more than a little concerned by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's complete lack of response to the serious matter that has been brought to his attention below. Mr. Fitzgerald made a very public outreach encouraging people to report corruption to his office. Hopefully he will not disappoint those he urged to risk so much ?
From: Address Deleted
To: "Randall Samborn" <Address Deleted@usdoj.gov>
Cc: "Kimberly Nerheim" <Address Deleted@usdoj.gov>
Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2012 4:11:12 PM
Subject: What happens when citizens step up?
Mr. Randall Samborn
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has repeatedly challenged the public to do something about corruption in Illinois by bringing information of illegal acts directly to him. Mr. Samborn, while I agree the premise of reporting crime to the U.S. Attorney is a logical step in fighting corruption, I do not underestimate the serious danger those who do are put in.
Need I remind you, it was also Patrick Fitzgerald who acknowledged that his office may be the source for information being leaked to the very criminals he urges the public to inform on. With this in mind, please personally hand a copy of this email to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and ask him to personally send me a response addressing concerns I have about his office and my personal safety. At the very least Mr Fitzgerald can acknowledge the risk I am taking exposing corruption at the highest levels.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Dan Frawley <Address Deleted@gmail.com>
> Date: Tue, 31 May 2011 08:08:15 -0500
> Subject: Frawely vs Weaver
> To: XXXXX XXXXX <XXXXXXXX@gmail.com>
> Hi XXXX
> I think the best way to bring this to the public and media is to fact
> the malpractice case against Weaver.
> I have discussed this with my attorney's and they are willing to do it at
> the right time and way.
> Instead of a news conference being called like the gay guy did with Obama.
> PUT AS THE GUTS OF THE SUIT THE MEETING AT THE FOUR SEASONS AND THE 4OO
> GRAND GOING TO YOU KNOW WHO AND THE USE OF THE MONEY.
> I would bring this out in the for of a legal action not a personal
> The media with the right reporters would make sure that was national news.
> When the usual denials are made or the old I don't remember I hit him with
> the second naming names dates and places.
> Punches are always more effective when thrown in combination.
> know we figure out the best timing.
And in response, what did the citizen hear back from the U.S. Attorney’s office?
Pay-to-Play Editorial Staff
Steve Bartin, writing for the website NewGeography.com, in an article entitled “Blago’s Historic Sentencing: Organized Crime in Illinois,” asks an important question. One that the Chicago media, particularly the Tribune and Sun Times, should be asking themselves today: “Could a more vigilant press have stopped the amazing political career of Rod Blagojevich?”
At Illinois Pay-to-Play, we’ve been wondering the same thing. Bartin mentions Robert Cooley in his piece. We at Illinois Pay-to-Play trust Cooley. He’s proved his veracity as few in Chicago have. His story, linked within the excerpt from Bartin’s article below, proves his reliability.
Also, we here are aware of the identities of several reporters, from both big Chicago tree-killing news outlets, who were given information by Cooley about Candidate Obama’s associations with…let’s say, persons-of-interest, before the ’08 election. In most cases, the information was ignored. It didn’t fit the papers’ template of support for their local Senator. Obama, they assumed, would help Chicago get the Olympics, guaranteed to help slow the city’s slide toward bankruptcy and grease the palms of some connected Southside land developers and contractors – not to mention politicians. Good for business, and, therefore, circulation.
In one particular instance, a well-known reporter was so bold as to say to Cooley something to the effect that, “Our editors don’t want us reporting on that.”
We can report here that a staff member at Illinois Pay-to-Play had a similar response, nearly verbatim, with a reporter for one of the two major dailies concerning another corruption story.
Here’s part of what Bartin writes:
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced today to 14 years in prison. Illinois will now have the dubious distinction of having two back-to-back Governors in jail at the same time. Could a more vigilant press have stopped the amazing political career of Rod Blagojevich? When you look into the background of the former Governor the tentacles of organized crime can’t be ignored.
Rod Blagojevich has been identified as a former associate of the Elmwood Park street crew of the Chicago Mob by Justice Department informant Robert Cooley. The allegations concern Blagojevich paying street tax to the Chicago Mob to operate a bookmaking operation. Former senior FBI agent James Wagner confirmed that Cooley told the FBI about Blagojevich in the 1980s. The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune still haven’t reported on the Cooley allegations concerning Blagojevich.
Visit here to read the rest of Bartin’s article.
As the nation becomes further aware of Illinois’, and especially Chicago’s, depth of corruption, its attention is likely to turn toward the Chicago newspapers and start asking questions. One of those questions will be this:
Could the depth of Illinois corruption exist without, if not the direct complicity, at least the negligence and incompetence of the two big dailies?
Illinois Pay-to-Play Editorial
A fond ado we’ll bid to you, poor Blago.
For, alas, we knew you well.
And of your flair in the governor’s chair,
The people here, with seldom a tear,
Will long remember.
Your flowing mane, your short-cut name,
How you quoted Kipling under pressure.
You rang in some a thrilling bell,
For you were a Man of the People.
The simple people.
The union people.
The people who came to you on bended knee for favors.
And state contracts.
You only did what other pols have done, and do still.
You simply asked for your fair share,
From the constant revolving till.
A mere pull of your rake
Through the spoils of the take.
Not for yourself, no, not for you.
But for the common ones.
The suffering ones.
The sick and aging ones.
The Little People.
But, alas, poor Blago, you lacked discretion.
Too boldly did you claim your share.
Too brashly did you drag your rake.
And with too much brass you grabbed your take.
And so, you did, poor Blago, make yourself contagious
With them who would otherwise a blind eye have turned,
Had you not been so audacious.
For in a state where other pols make secret hay,
Your crimes were in the light of day. (And on tape.)
As so yet it continues on past today,
With Illinois Pay-to-Play.
Yet, all would have been well with you, poor Blago,
Had you not flown too close to the Flame,
And burned your wings in the white heat of Him,
They chose past you for a Greater Fame.
A bigger friend of Tony.
So, a fond ado we’ll bid to you, poor Blago.
Be wise in the showers where you will go.
For some are eager there to do to you,
What you did to the People.