The Campaign Spot

The Obama-Blagojevich Ties – Don’t Forget Rezko

Boy, since a lousy Election Night, the news really has been pretty good for the GOP. The RNC is gleefully pointing out the longtime ties between Arrested and Indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and President-Elect Obama:

Obama Advised Blagojevich On His Victorious Gubernatorial Run. “That year, [Obama] gained his first high-level experience in a statewide campaign when he advised the victorious gubernatorial candidate Rod Blagojevich, another politician with a funny name and a message of reform.” (Ryan Lizza, “Making It,” The New Yorker, 7/21/08)
* Obama: “If the governor asks me to work on his behalf, I’ll be happy to do it.” (John Patterson, “Senator Says He’s Still Willing To Help Blagojevich Despite Hiring Concerns,” Chicago Daily Herald, 7/27/06)
Obama Endorsed Blagojevich For A Second Term. “Obama, who endorsed Blagojevich for a second term nearly 18 months ago, said he’s ready to help Illinois democrats in the upcoming elections.” (John Patterson, “Senator Says He’s Still Willing To Help Blagojevich Despite Hiring Concerns,” Chicago Daily Herald, 7/27/06)
* Obama: “We’ve got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois.” (Deanna Bellandi, “Illinois Democrats Talk Unity But Don’t Show It,” The Associated Press, 8/16/06)

But this is actually the mild stuff. What’s really interesting is Blago’s ties to the man Barack Obama bought his house with, Tony Rezko:

But his strongest ties have always been with Blagojevich. Rezko’s and Blagojevich’s families often socialized. Rezko and the governor’s wife, Patti, a real estate agent, even worked on several property deals together since 1997, earning Patti Blagojevich at least $38,000 in fees.
So when Blagojevich was elected governor in 2002, Rezko said he felt an overwhelming urge to help get a Democratic administration up and running after two decades of Republican governors.
Rezko recommended numerous candidates for Cabinet positions and state boards and commissions. And in a sign of how closely he meshed his pizza business deals with his forays into politics, a close circle of Rezko business investors and their relatives received jobs and appointments to influential state posts under Blagojevich.
Blagojevich appointed three Rezko pizza business investors to a controversial board that oversees hospital projects. (That board was replaced amid an ongoing federal kickback investigation that led to the indictment of the board’s vice chairman.)
The state’s business development agency, run by a former Rezko real estate firm executive, employed the daughters of two other pizza business partners, including a man who is a fugitive on federal tax charges.
And another Rezko partner got a loan for pizza franchises through a California businessman whose firm won an $83 million contract for redeveloping the restaurants at Illinois Tollway oases. The loan came after an introduction from Rezko. Blagojevich has said those who secured jobs and appointments were qualified.

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