17Mar/120

Mission Accomplished: Blago Joins Rezko in the Silence Chamber of Federal Prison

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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.

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15Mar/120

From Baghdad to Chicago: Rezko and the Auchi empire

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“I first began to fathom the extent of Nadhmi Auchi's reach and corrupting influence when I was given responsibility for monitoring illegal transfers of technology and munitions to Iraq as well as overseeing all coalition transportation and communications reconstruction in Iraq. "

JOHN A. SHAW (Opinion: former senior official of US Defense, State, and Commerce departments)
 October 10, 2008

Barack Obama has been appropriately strident in his condemnation of the mortgage-based financial corruption which nearly led to the collapse of the investment banking system in the United States. But there are some strong smelling financial skeletons in his own closet. Obama has his own personal housing crisis that is tied not into Fanny Mae, but into a corrupt international financial combine headed by Nadhmi Auchi, the convicted Iraqi billionaire at the center of the Elf Aquitaine corruption trial in France. Auchi has been shown to be the fountainhead of a source of corruption flowing from Iraq, to France, Italy, and the United States. His financial network, under a Luxembourg company called General Mediterranean Holdings, spread from Baghdad and the Middle East to Paris, (where Auchi successfully posited Saddam's UN Oil for Food scheme), London, Washington, and Chicago, making very few ripples and raising no concerns.

Auchi is suave, cosmopolitan, brilliant, and ruthless, and he has bottomless pockets. His business is international banking, which is complexly organized and appropriately camouflaged to conceal any criminal activity. He is the Godfather, but speaks in an Iraqi, not a Sicilian, dialect. A British survey credits him with being toward the bottom of a list of the two hundred richest men in the world. But in such a rendering Auchi would both feign modesty and ensure that any such accounting show only the tip of his financial iceberg. Other sources credit him with being the fifth richest man in the world. His methodology, however, is straightforward: Under cover of seeking legitimate business, buy whoever is necessary in the political decision chain to control the process and the outcome. As his longtime telecommunications partner Ala al-Hawaja, candidly put it to a potential competitor in Cairo, "there is nothing that cannot be accomplished with a suitcase full of money". So far he has been proven correct.

Auchi has claimed to have been "a visitor to two White Houses", and his London web site flashes a picture of him at the Clinton White House between Bill Clinton and Al Gore (a long way from his early days with Saddam Hussein as part of a Baathist assassination squad.) Auchi is, however, also the shadowy puppet master to Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a Syrian American with whom he partnered for more than a decade in schemes from Baghdad all the way to Chicago. Their relationship began in the wake of the Iran-Iraq War, when the US was cultivating Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Rezko is now in federal prison awaiting sentencing for 16 counts of corruption involving Illinois officials. Buying influence is his métier, guided and financed by his master, Auchi. Rezko has also been a White House visitor, with his picture taken with Bill and Hillary Clinton for his contributions out of Chicago to the Clinton political war chest. Was Rezko then and now merely the main Chicago conduit for Auchi money? Or was he part of a larger Iraqi scheme dating back to Saddam to buy access to US government contracts and influence? What specifically was Auchi buying and where else did his money go? Was Obama, like the governor of Illinois, a recipient of Auchi's favors as part of Rezko's scheme to purchase government contracts through kickbacks from campaign contributions? There is no question that Obama, as a fledgling state senator, was a target of the Iraqi corruption combine, but did he become one of its pigeons? Was Rezko simply the front man for Auchi and Iraqi funding (whether it came from Saddam, Oil for Food, or General Mediterranean Holdings) over his entire Chicago career?

Rezko had identified Obama as a good political target before he graduated from Harvard Law School. He was both the source of Obama's employment and of his largest political donations during his short political career. Rezko had no financial source apart from Auchi, his partner of over a decade. Rezko was also the source of the financing for Obama's $2.3 million mansion despite his having no clear source of funding apart from Auchi. What did he get from Obama in return?

As the Wall Street Journal showed several weeks ago, Obama has been anything but forthcoming about his real relationship with Rezko and Auchi. And the public has no idea how extensive and how corrupt the network that Auchi has developed across the world is. Let me count the ways: Like organized crime, the network shows no public profile beyond legitimate business activities, and has a small army of lawyers threatening any critics with libel actions in Britain, Auchi's adopted residence where there is no First Amendment protection.

Billionaires can buy anonymity at the same time they buy influence and politicians. In 2000, although Nadhmi Auchi had spent two decades as Saddam Hussein's broker in the international oil and armament worlds, he was seen from the United States as essentially a European go-between, who worked the highest levels of the Italian and particularly the French and British governments. He had bought an aura of respectability by buying senior politicians and favorable press, and threatening any critics, a pattern he had begun to introduce in the United States with British assistance a decade earlier. I first began to fathom the extent of Nadhmi Auchi's reach and corrupting influence when I was given responsibility for monitoring illegal transfers of technology and munitions to Iraq as well as overseeing all coalition transportation and communications reconstruction in Iraq.

My office had two key responsibilities, international technology security and international arms and technology trade (essentially keeping good things out of the hands of bad people), with the latter function given the reach of the DoD Inspector General's office. Our investigations surfaced some salient facts about Nadhmi Auchi and his underreported activities: that Auchi had been Saddam Hussein's senior arms dealer and had morphed into his principal international financial bagman, and had become the Godfather of the UN Oil for Food scheme. (As a former State Department Inspector General overseeing all US foreign assistance and foreign military sales, I had had thirty years experience dealing with technology and armament sales, most of it in the Middle East.). I was therefore startled to also discover in addition that Auchi had surfaced as the financier and a principal beneficiary of the entire Iraqi cellular telecommunications tender, worth some $3 billion.

Through the customary combination of facilitating payments spread among political figures in Iraq and elsewhere, Auchi was able to fix the three contracts for three companies which in turn benefitted three of the most senior Iraqi politicians. $435 million was found missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority communications account along with all records. Multimillion dollar bribes were paid to various Brits and Americans to facilitate both the fix and its cover up.

The official DoD report of May 11, 2004, which Auchi has spent four and a half years trying to discredit, encountered cover up efforts within the DoD. These in turn prompted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on December 10, 2004 to transfer the case to the Department of Justice to assure the integrity of the continuing investigation. The FBI is still working on the case with the continuing assistance of my office, and Auchi's US visa to come to the United States was cancelled.

The Rezko trial in Chicago, moreover, has highlighted Auchi's reach into other ministries to provide bribes for contracts. In the Ministry of Electricity the Rezko-Auchi combine was seen in action offering million dollar bribes for multi-million dollar contracts to Ayham al-Samarra'i, an Iraqi American who had become Electricity Minister. In addition, recent evidence has surfaced that an Auchi subsidiary, the Iraqi German Hospital (IG Hospital), has been awarded a billion dollar contract at the Ministry of Health thru the influence of Dr. Adel Mohsen, the notoriously corrupt arbiter of health ministry contracting. "Dr. Adel" is close to Prime Minister Maliki and is his point man on the appropriately named Iraqi Committee on Public Integrity. While Auchi was a frequent visitor to the Green Zone in Baghdad during the CPA era, and, according to reliable Iraqi sources, met numerous times with CPA viceroy L. Paul Bremer, that was a useful but temporary expedient. Auchi is now said to be an advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki as well as being the representative of major oil and commercial interests seeking contracts in Iraq. If Auchi now owns Maliki, he now owns everything.

As the above shows, Auchi has parlayed his long time presence on the Iraqi scene into a position of even greater wealth and influence than he enjoyed under Saddam. But it is his skill in buying his way to foreign leaders and funneling that advantage into a position of paramount influence into Iraq that is truly impressive. He simultaneously developed access to the nascent Iraqi leadership in London while he was buying access to the British leadership, and through that got access to US leadership and the Coalition Provisional Authority. It was done largely through lavish donations and largesse to the British establishment over several decades, and to the Labour party in particular. Auchi's purchase of respectability included the grant of a coat of arms from the Queen, and the support of very senior members of the cabinet, some of whom sat on his GMH board. On the 20th anniversary of GMH activities in Britain, Auchi was given a print of the Houses of Parliament signed by virtually everyone with any political pretentions in the House of Commons. His London sponsors then opened the doors to Washington, to the Pentagon and ultimately, to the White House.

But he had bought his way into France as well: As a major arms dealer for Saddam he had cultivated President Mitterand and President Chirac, as well as key members of their cabinets. In September 2003, however, a French court had found him guilty of corruption and of receiving improper commissions of $100 million in the Elf Aquitaine scandal. The trial showed that Auchi had developed direct relationships with the key players in the French political and business establishment, and was the largest single stockholder in the bank BNP Parisbas. He received a slap on the wrist in the form of a multimillion dollar fine and a suspended jail sentence.

By that time, however, he had moved to the US market. Thanks to his British network, he established relationships with Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby, and others in the Bush I Department of Defense at the time of the first Gulf War, and deftly carried his insider utility and his reputation of being helpful in Iraq over to the Clinton administration in 1993. He arrived with a laying on of hands from Lord Cavendish, the former head of British intelligence, and soon was a member of the Kennedy School board of Advisors at Harvard. He became, thru charitable donations and investments in the US, largely in the Chicago and Detroit areas, the embodiment of the Good Iraqi and the Good Arab. He established an Auchi chair at the American University of Cairo, and there have been reports that he was a large donor to the Clinton library.

His seemingly innocent investments with Rezko in the Middle West, however, went hand in hand with Rezko's extensive scheme to trade off campaign donations to Illinois politicians for jobs and multimillion dollar state and city contracts. That strategy appears to have tied in as well to Joseph A. Cari, Jr., a Clinton administration official who served as Democratic National Committee Finance Chairman in 1993-94, and who, like Rezko, was found guilty of extortion of Illinois officials in 2006, and similarly is awaiting sentencing. Cari was Clinton's national finance chairman when Rezko and Auchi made their White House visits. Cari is now managing director of a Middle East trade and investment fund in New York. How many of Rezko's donations and US investments originated with and were dependent on Auchi? Is there any evidence that Rezko had any other major source of funding? How long had the Auchi network been in place in Chicago? And what were Auchi's connections to the Iraqi spy ring about to go to trial in Detroit, who in late 2002 paid two Democratic congressmen to go to Iraq and oppose the war, and which flourished on UN Oil for Food vouchers?

So we have a pattern of buying influence which tied directly into the Illinois Democratic Party, the Daley machine, and the Democratic National Finance Committee. It is no wonder that Barack Obama "has no recollection" of being at a welcoming dinner feting Auchi at Rezko's house in April 2004. At that moment Auchi was flying high despite his corruption conviction in France: He was then still the darling of the neocon cabal at the defense department, which was so heavily invested in Iraq. He had been a welcomed guest at two White Houses, and appeared to own the entire Illinois government. We still do not have any sense of the full extent of his influence.

A month later, however, his five year visa to the United States was revoked because of the findings of the DoD report on his central role in fixing the contracts for the entire Iraqi telecommunications system. In the ensuring four and a half years the outlines of his role as an ongoing arms dealer responsible for importing and exporting munitions into and out of Iraq, and as the financial ringmaster of reconstruction corruption in Iraq, have become increasingly evident, despite extensive efforts to cover up his role by Iraq reconstruction authorities and a submissive and buyable media. Auchi simply bought everyone he needed to buy in Iraq and the United States to carry out his Iraq agenda. Before his sentencing at the end of this month, however, Rezko may broaden our understanding of Auchi's larger agenda.

But his underwriting of the purchase of Obama's multimillion dollar Chicago mansion may have been the step too far which finally brought down Auchi's grand scheme of empire and intrigue. It was, however, cheap at the price to buy a putative United States Senator. Nothing boneheaded about that decision at all. What is a candidate worth? This was Chicago, after all. On the other hand, however, if Barack Obama becomes President of the United States, the sky may be the limit for Nadhmi Auchi.

John A. Shaw is a former senior official of the Defense, State, and Commerce departments, and served on several White House staffs. He is a specialist in international technology transfer and arms sales, and in the economic development of the Middle East.

http://wikileaks.org/wiki/From_Baghdad_to_Chicago:_Rezko_and_the_Auchi_empire

 

 

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5Mar/120

Sun Times withholds information about Frawley’s Obama-bribe accusation

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Jontel Kassidy, Capital Correspondent

Illinois PayToPlay has learned that, since January 19, 2012, two reporters and one editor at the Chicago Sun Times have held relevant information provided by an informant concerning Daniel Frawley’s claim that he gave Tony Rezko $400,000 in cash that Rezko then passed on to U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

No one at the paper has either acknowledged receipt of the information, expressed an interest in how it was obtained, nor queried the source for additional details.

On February 27, 2012, Illinois PayToPay investigative reporter Hugo Floriani reported that:

“Frawley’s claim that the money he gave Rezko went to Obama is alluded to in a December 1, 2010 deposition executed in the context of a legal malpractice complaint filed by Frawley, on July 9, 2010, against his former attorney and long-time friend, George Weaver.

Frawley alleges that Weaver was not representing his best interests when Weaver interrupted a March 2006 phone conversation, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between Frawley and Rezko who were scheduling a face-to-face meeting.

Frawley cooperated with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Rezko by wearing a wire.

On page 21 of the deposition, this exchange is recorded between Weaver’s attorney, Daniel F. Konicek, and Frawley:

Konicek: And Tony Rezko was where when you were speaking to him?

Frawley: He was on the other end of the phone. I don’t recall where he was.

Konicek: Okay. Now, that answers one part of the question is who was present when Mr. Weaver made a gesture across his neck with both hands [signaling that the conversation should cease]. But my question was a little different because your complaint specifically alleges he [Weaver] told you to withhold certain information, right.

Frawley: Yes.

Konicek: I’m assuming the information is about the payments made by Rezko to Obama, so we know we’re talking about the right conversation, right?

Franklin: (Charles Franklin, representing Frawley.) I’m not going to make any objection. I think that’s – you may make that assumption, but I think it’s unfair to make the – to have Mr. Frawley make the assumption. Also, it doesn’t go to who or where or the forum non conveniens issue.

Konicek: There’s going to be multiple conversations, I want to make sure I understand where each occurred. So you said he (Weaver) withheld information. Am I correct it was about Obama being paid by Rezko?

The Witness: (Frawley) I’m not answering that question based upon my attorney’s instructions.

Since the July 11, 2011 Times article that linked to the deposition cited above, there’s been no mention by the paper of the alleged payment of Rezko to Obama using money Rezko received from Frawley.

Perhaps the paper is sitting on the story, waiting for it to hatch.  Just as they sat for seven years on the story of David Koschman’s murder and then hatched it on August 4, 2011.

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1Mar/120

U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald has known of Frawley’s Obama-bribe accusation

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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 ?

Concerned Citizen

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

_____________________________________________________________________________

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.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

> ---------- 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
> plead
> 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
> vendetta.
> 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.
> DAN 

 

And in response, what did the citizen hear back from the U.S. Attorney’s office?

Absolute silence.

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27Feb/120

Former Rezko partner says he gave Tony $400K for Obama

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Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Daniel T. Frawley, a former business partner of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, claims he gave Rezko $400,000 that Rezko gave to then U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

This claim comes through Frawley’s emails to, and conversations with, Robert “Bob” Cooley, former Chicago mob lawyer turned government informer and author of the book on Chicago corruption entitled “When Corruption Was King”. 

Cooley was the star witness in a series of trials in the early 1990’s as part of an F.B.I. investigation named Operation Gambat. Those trials led to the convictions of over a score of Chicago crooks, including First Ward Alderman Fred Roti, a made-man; the Chief Judge of Cook County’s Chancery Court; the Assistant Majority Leader of the Illinois State Senate; and the only Federal Judge in U.S. history convicted of fixing a murder trial.

About April 2011, Frawley, along with Daniel Mahru, a former business associate of Rezko dating back to 1989, and a former business partner of current White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, began conversations with Cooley concerning collaboration on a book about Chicago corruption.

Frawley’s claim that the money he gave Rezko went to Obama is alluded to in a December 1, 2010 deposition executed in the context of a legal malpractice complaint filed by Frawley, on July 9, 2010, against his former attorney and long-time friend, George Weaver.

Frawley alleges that Weaver was not representing his best interests when Weaver interrupted a March 2006 phone conversation, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between Frawley and Rezko who were scheduling a face-to-face meeting.

Frawley cooperated with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Rezko by wearing a wire.

On page 21 of the deposition, this exchange is recorded between Weaver’s attorney, Daniel F. Konicek, and Frawley:

Konicek: And Tony Rezko was where when you were speaking to him?

Frawley: He was on the other end of the phone. I don’t recall where he was.

Konicek: Okay. Now, that answers one part of the question is who was present when Mr. Weaver made a gesture across his neck with both hands [signaling that the conversation should cease]. But my question was a little different because your complaint specifically alleges he [Weaver] told you to withhold certain information, right.

Frawley: Yes.

Konicek: I’m assuming the information is about the payments made by Rezko to Obama, so we know we’re talking about the right conversation, right?

Franklin: (Charles Franklin, representing Frawley.) I’m not going to make any objection. I think that’s – you may make that assumption, but I think it’s unfair to make the – to have Mr. Frawley make the assumption. Also, it doesn’t go to who or where or the forum non conveniens issue.

Konicek: There’s going to be multiple conversations, I want to make sure I understand where each occurred. So you said he (Weaver) withheld information.  Am I correct it was about Obama being paid by Rezko?

The Witness: (Frawley) I’m not answering that question based upon my attorney’s instructions.

Less than two months later, on January 26, 2011, the feds charged Frawley with bank fraud, although the statute of limitations on his crime had expired. He pled guilty on February 14, 2011 and was ordered to make restitution of $4,000,000. He awaits sentencing in mid-April after four previous sentencing dates were postponed.

Frawley’s claim, that he passed money to Rezko that went to Obama, is referenced in an email to Cooley dated May 31, 2011, wherein Frawley outlines his thoughts on how to bring “this” to the public’s attention.

From: Dan Frawley (address deleted)
Date: Tue, 31 May 2011 08:08:15 -0500
Subject: Frawely [sic] vs Weaver
To: Robert XXXXX (Cooley address deleted)

Hi Bob
I think the best way to bring this to the public and media is to fact plead 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 [sic] of a legal action not a personal vendetta. 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 [sic] we figure out the best timing.
DAN

Cooley confirmed to a source that “YOU KNOW WHO” refers to then U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

Cooley also told a source that, “Dan was wearing a wire for a couple of years on Tony Rezko, and he told the feds he was giving money to Rezko for Barack Obama. They told him over and over again never to discuss Obama and wires with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and never even mention Obama’s name.”

Another undercover operative for the feds in the investigation of Rezko, Bernard T. Barton, Jr., alias “John Thomas,” was also prohibited from taping conversations concerning Obama.

According to the source, Cooley added that Frawley told him in several emails, during multiple phone conversations, and in a face-to-face meeting in Chicago, that he gave more than $1 million to Rezko “who said that he wanted it for Obama.”

Cooley speculated to the source that the indictment of Frawley ten years after the commission of bank fraud was intended “to keep him quiet, to keep him from talking.”

Despite his long association with Rezko, Frawley was not called as a prosecution witness in Rezko’s 2008 trial.

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7Dec/110

Ode to Poor Blago

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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.

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28Nov/110

Sun Times Endorses Obama for President – Ya Want a Mulligan Yet?

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Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic

On October 17, 2008 the Chicago Sun Times endorsed Senator Barack Obama for election to the Presidency. Some of the reasons they gave included:

Americans are ready to be one country. By the millions, they yearn to bridge their differences, to find common cause, to rise above ideology, race, class and religion.

They have grown weary of the culture wars and the personal attacks, tired of the exaggerated lines that divide. They dare to imagine a more constructive discourse, a debate marked by civility and respect even in disagreement, a politics that begins with listening to each other, and in Sen. Obama they see a man of exceptional gifts who just might show them how

Our endorsement for president of the United States goes to Sen. Barack Obama, Chicago's adopted son. He has the unique background, superior intellect, sound judgment and first-rate temperament to lead our nation in difficult times.

And also:

Sen. Obama climbed the ladder of Chicago Democratic politics -- from community organizer to state senator to U.S. senator -- while dodging the tag of "machine made." He developed alliances with the old Harold Washington coalition, but also with party stalwarts like State Sen. Emil Jones. He mostly steered clear of unwise political entanglements, and on those rare occasions when he did use poor judgment he grew from the mistake. Specifically, the senator learned the enormous importance of transparency in politics when he was dogged by questions about his relationship with Tony Rezko, the political fixer. When he finally sat down with the Sun-Times Editorial Board and answered every question, the Rezko story lost its steam

Our next president must be a person of steady temperament, superb judgment and compassion. He must stand tall for America, first and always, but be unafraid to listen to the world. He must demand the best in us.

In Barack Obama, we see America's best hope for a president who is right for the times.

So, to summarize, the Editorial Board of the Chicago Sun Times expected Obama to be a President who would:

  • “rise above ideology, race, class and religion”
  • promote “a more constructive discourse, a debate marked by civility and respect even in disagreement, a politics that begins with listening to each other”
  • “stand tall (not bow) for America”
  • display “a first-rate temperament to lead our nation in difficult times”
  • “demand the best in us”
  • be “right for the times”
  • be free of the tag of “machine made” in Chicago

That’s not all the accolades endorsement offered, just some of those supporting their support of Obama – “Chicago’s adopted son”.

All of these assumptions about Senator Obama seem to have been based on the singular accomplishment during his interview with the Editorial Board:  “When he finally sat down with the Sun-Times Editorial Board and answered every question, the Rezko story lost its steam.”  Here’s a pdf of the entire interview.

In order to appreciate the astonishing lack of depth of this “interview”, you must read the entire transcript.  To call it a superficial inquiry is a vast understatement. It was a perfunctory love fest.

It’s clear that the entire exercise was staged to validate an endorsement decision that had already been made.

So, after three years, do you folks sitting around the table above want a Mulligan on your endorsement?  Or, have your expectations been fulfilled?  What say you?

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28Nov/110

Trib Endorses Obama for President – Want a Mulligan Yet?

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Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic

From the Chicago Tribune’s endorsement of Senator Barack Obama to be President of the United States, dated Friday, October 17, 2008:

On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose.

The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States.
On Dec. 6, 2006, this page encouraged Obama to join the presidential campaign. We wrote that he would celebrate our common values instead of exaggerate our differences. We said he would raise the tone of the campaign. We said his intellectual depth would sharpen the policy debate. In the ensuing 22 months he has done just that.

Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.

The change that Obama talks about so much is not simply a change in this policy or that one. It is not fundamentally about lobbyists or Washington insiders. Obama envisions a change in the way we deal with one another in politics and government. His opponents may say this is empty, abstract rhetoric. In fact, it is hard to imagine how we are going to deal with the grave domestic and foreign crises we face without an end to the savagery and a return to civility in politics.

This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

The Tribune in its earliest days took up the abolition of slavery and linked itself to a powerful force for that cause--the Republican Party. The Tribune's first great leader, Joseph Medill, was a founder of the GOP. The editorial page has been a proponent of conservative principles. It believes that government has to serve people honestly and efficiently.

With that in mind, in 1872 we endorsed Horace Greeley, who ran as an independent against the corrupt administration of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant. (Greeley was later endorsed by the Democrats.) In 1912 we endorsed Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as the Progressive Party candidate against Republican President William Howard Taft.

The Tribune's decisions then were driven by outrage at inept and corrupt business and political leaders.

We see parallels today.

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office -- and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

We might have counted on John McCain to correct his party's course. We like McCain. We endorsed him in the Republican primary in Illinois. In part because of his persuasion and resolve, the U.S. stands to win an unconditional victory in Iraq.

It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush's tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He [McCain] has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.

McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.
Obama chose a more experienced and more thoughtful running mate--he put governing before politicking. Sen. Joe Biden doesn't bring many votes to Obama, but he would help him from day one to lead the country.

McCain calls Obama a typical liberal politician. Granted, it's disappointing that Obama's mix of tax cuts for most people and increases for the wealthy would create an estimated $2.9 trillion in federal debt. He has made more promises on spending than McCain has. We wish one of these candidates had given good, hard specific information on how he would bring the federal budget into line. Neither one has.

We do, though, think Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.
We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus. He was most effective in the Illinois legislature when he worked with Republicans on welfare, ethics and criminal justice reform.

He worked to expand the number of charter schools in Illinois--not popular with some Democratic constituencies.

He took up ethics reform in the U.S. Senate--not popular with Washington politicians.

His economic policy team is peppered with advisers who support free trade. He has been called a "University of Chicago Democrat"--a reference to the famed free-market Chicago school of economics, which puts faith in markets.

Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S.

He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.

When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.

It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States.

So let’s add it all up.  Back in ’08 the editors at the Trib wanted to:

  • Promote “…a common sense of national purpose”
  • “raise the tone of political campaigning” in America
  • Bring “intellectual depth” to policy debates, with his “intellectual vigor”
  • Support someone “we’ve watched” work in Chicago for a dozen years
  • Bring an “end to savagery and a return to civility in politics”
  • Address the paper’s “outrage with corrupt business and political leaders”
  • Stop the “rampant spending” of Republicans – e.g. a $455 billion ’08 budget deficit
  • Stop McCain’s proposal to buy up $300 billion in bad mortgages
  • Elect someone who would govern as “a pragmatic centrist”
  • And, promote race relations

So, editorial guys and gals at the Chicago Tribune, how’s all that workin’ out for ya?  Still “proud” of your endorsement?

You said back then that you had “watched” Obama for a dozen years (Rezko, too?) and assured the nation he was ready to be President. A Kennedy-like leader in the making.

So, Bruce Dold, you guys there want a Mulligan yet?

P.S.  We’ll overlook your endorsement of Joe Biden, the human gaffe machine.

 

 

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27Nov/110

Chicago’s New Media Outperforms Two Old Dying Papers

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Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic

It’s no secret that Chicago’s two major daily newspapers are circling the drain.

According to chicagoist.com, in 2011: 

Fewer Chicagoans are getting their fingers stained turning the pages of newspapers. Daily circulation for both the Tribune and Sun-Times for the six-month period ending Sept. 30, [declined] according to numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Tribune's daily circulation fell by 2.7 percent to 425,370, while the Sun-Times' weekday numbers of 236,371 reflected a 7.2 percent drop. There was some good news for the Tribune. Their Sunday circulation numbers rose to 781,128. The Sun-Times' Sunday numbers fell slightly to 233,445.

Compare those numbers with these tallied by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), according to the Tribune, in the not too distant past.

Tribune March to Sept. 05 950,582 (S) 586,122 (M-F)
Tribune March to Sept. 06 937,907 (S) 576,132 (M-F)
Tribune March to Sept. 07 917,868 (S) 559,404 (M-F)
Tribune March to Sept. 08 864,845 (S) 516,032 (M-F)

Sun-Times March to Sept. 05 281,129 (S) 349,968 (M-F)
Sun-Times March to Sept. 06 264,371 (S) 341,448 (M-F)
Sun-Times March to Sept. 07 244,962 (S) 326,018 (M-F)
Sun-Times March to Sept. 08 255,905 (S) 313,176 (M-F)

In the seven years from 2005-2011, the Monday-Friday circulation of the Trib went from 586,122 to 425,370.  For the Sun Times, the numbers declined from 349,968 to 236,371.  In the old math, that’s a 27% decline in daily circulation for the Trib in the last 7 years, and a 32% decline for the Sun Times.

In short, Chicago’s two major dailies are in a drag race to the cliff.

Causes for their decline abound. People are increasingly looking to the internet for news. TV cable channels have multiplied with outlets offering up-to-the-minute, 24-hour news.  Younger generations have grown up with cell phone where they can now read the news while commuting on the train, keeping their fingers clean of ink.

There’s another reason the two big old dailies are dying.

More and more readers are less and less trusting of the veracity of what they read there. Case in point:

During the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election, both Chicago dailies served as shills for the Obama Campaign.  The vetting of candidate Obama was powder-puff league quality, rather than hardball major league reporting. Puffery prevailed.

Sure, Chicago’s long been a Democrat Party town, and many Trib and Sun Times readers support the bias. But others, particularly those in the burbs, live where Democrat water doesn’t run as deep as in the City.

For the Fourth Estate, there’s a price to be paid for playing fast-and-loose with the news. Even those in sympathy with a bias, whatever it may be, eventually lose their underlying confidence in a news source the spins the story line, drives a meme, and promotes a political theme.

Let’s say it aloud: The two Chicago dailies helped Senator Barack Obama become President Obama.

The Tribune cooked the news somewhat more so than the Sun Times, but both outlets promoted his election.  And as his presidency fails, some of the blame is falling at the feet of the Chicago print media that helped put him in the White House.

Today, if readers want to more fully understand Chicago and national politics they must expand the horizons of their news sources to include Chicago’s New Media.

If the people of Northern Illinois want to stay abreast of stories like the Rezko and Blago trials, they need to visit outlets like the Chicago Daily Observer and Citizen WElls.  Both websites are linked in the margin of this website, along with Steve Bartin’s Newsalert, a running, updated compendium of current articles covering a variety of topics of interest, specializing in political corruption. A national pastime these days.

These are the news sources of the future – Chicago’s New Media.  For the Old Media is dying a slow, self-inflicted death.  And the New is just now being born.

Meanwhile, there will always be homes that welcome the old ink and paper media.

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25Nov/110

Chicago Tribune Writes “Top Blagojevich adviser Tony Rezko gets 10½ years”

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Introducing Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic

Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney wrote a nearly insightful piece on a former Governor Blagojevich “advisor” identified in the body of her piece as Antoin Rezko, and in the title as Tony Rezko.  Who is Annie writing about?

Is this the same Tony Rezko who served with Allison Davis and Valerie Jarrett as Barack Obama’s senate election campaign finance committee?  She doesn’t mention that.

Is this the same Tony Rezko who Obama said he only occasionally shared lunch with, but who federal mole Bernard Barton, AKA John Thomas, reported to have witnessed frequently meeting at Rezko’s office where Barton-Thomas worked while wired. She doesn’t mention Obama.

Is this the same Tony Rezko who helped Obama and Michelle buy that Hyde Park mansion near his home in Chicago, helped him expand his yard, helped him…well, you know all that.  She skips all that, too.

Or, was this the former governor’s “advisor” – it’s such a dignified word, “advisor” – who gave former Governor Blagojevich prescient recommendations on competent and knowledgeable persons he, Blago, should appoint to key state committees in order to best serve the tax-payers of Illinois?

Is this Tony Rezko the “advisor” who whispered in Blago’s ear giving timely and clever political advice – cause that’s what “advisors” do, you know – to Illinois’ Chief Executive Officer so that he might act, in all ways and in all things, on behalf of the greater interests of the people of the Land of Lincoln?

The Governor’s Advisor...

 

…and not Blago’s senior extortionist bag man and close friend of the President.

It’s just hard to tell from Ms. Sweeney’s article who she’s writing about.

She wrote, “Rezko opted to enter jail after his June 2008 conviction, but his sentencing was delayed because of the possibility that federal prosecutors would call him as a witness at other key trials connected to the probe of the Blagojevich administration, including the former governor's retrial over the summer.”

Does Ms. Sweeney really believe that this Tony Rezko was ever going to be called as a witness at “other key Blago trials” where, on cross examination, he might have been forced to elaborate on his relationship with Barack Obama and commit perjury when he lied?  Did Annie just move to Chicago from Bulgaria?

For whom does Ms. Sweeney work?  Oh, that’s right – the Chicago Tribune.  A newspaper that’s been covering-up for Chicago’s favorite son for a long time now.

Now we get it.

She also wrote, ”Prosecutors, in a filing Monday, also described how Rezko withheld information from them, undercutting their investigation.”

Sure.  We get that, too.

What’s “shill” in Bulgarian?

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