Tag Archives: Tony Rezko

The Devils in Durbin’s Details

A collection of noteworthy points, details and arguments from the Durbin-Ryan-commutation imbroglio that I haven’t yet had a chance to point out.

* “If Ryan is released early, he will have spent less time in prison than two friends convicted in the case – Ryan’s aide, Scott Fawell, who did the dirty work, and businessman Lawrence Warner, who profited from the dirty deals,” the Sun-Times notes in an editorial today.

* “Let’s also look at one of the main assertions on Ryan’s behalf, that he’s been punished enough in part because his government pension has already been taken away,” Mark Brown writes today.

“What they fail to mention is that he had already collected about $800,000 from his ridiculous $197,000-a-year pension before he was sent off to prison. How many of you can expect to collect $800,000 from a pension in your entire lifetime? Not many. It’s not our fault if he spent it all.”

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The Week in Review Reviewed

First, I occasionally appear on Chicago Tonight: Week in Review and this blog is paid for by NBC, so apparent conflicts of interest abound. But I think last Friday night’s show needs a few clarifications – particularly some statements made by veteran political reporter Mike Flannery.

1. Flannery asserted that Barack Obama’s momentum could be reversed if there is a last-minute surprise, like what happened in Spain in 2004 when terrorists bombed a Madrid rail station. The media narrative at the time was that the bombing shifted the election results, but that theory – spun aggressively by the Bush administration – has largely been debunked.

2. Flannery stated that one of Obama’s biggest campaign mistakes was the “bitter” comments made to San Francisco fundraisers. He should have known, Flannery said, “that Republicans would have somebody in there with a microphone.” Of course, Obama was caught on tape not by a Republican but by a Huffington Post citizen journalist named Mayhill Flower – who was and is an Obama supporter.

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Is Tony Talking?

That’s the question that’s bubbled up to the surface over the last few weeks in Chicago and, in the last few days, onto the national stage – if only by a ripple.

The basis of the rumors now electrifying the local political grapevine are recent reports that Rezko has not only been seen an awful lot around the federal courthouse these days, but that local lawyers in a position to know have the impression from the questions they are getting that Rezko has flipped.

Surely this is more perilous for Gov. Rod Blagojevich than Barack Obama – the Tribune editorial page this week went so far as to say that Blagojevich is now likely to be impeached or indicted. (Bear in mind that one news report says that “one source with knowledge of the investigation into the governor and into his wife Patti Blagojevich’s real estate dealings say the probe is going ‘at top speed’.” That would lend credence the previously hot rumor that Patti would be indicted before her husband.)

Still, any news about Rezko is likely to once again raise questions about Obama’s self-described political godfather – also known to my readers as the Keyser Soze of Illinois politics – especially given that John McCain has already used him (Rezko, not Soze) in two ads.

And substantively, Obama’s long and intimate relationship with Rezko is of far more import than the spectacle of Jeremiah Wright and the (mostly) nonsense of Bill Ayers. Let’s take a brief look at the latest Rezko developments and try to place them in context.

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The Inevitable

And it really could have been worse. I sense this is just the beginning.

Johnny Blago

The governor appeared to have laid the groundwork on Friday for what his defense will be should he ever stand trial in the ongoing federal investigation that snared Tony Rezko.

“I have a theory on what happened in the Rezko situation,” he said, according to the Sun-Times. “A system, you know, sucked him in and then some lines were crossed and then that person found himself actually violating some of the rules.”

So, you know, Rezko was just sucked in to a system. Poor guy. And then lines were crossed. He found himself actually violating rules. The passivity is killing me.

“Nothing I ever did ever crossed the line,” Blagojevich added.

And that’s what I bet he’ll say under oath.

Mystery Convention Theater

Once again, Steve and Tim talk back to the TV.

*

TIM: “This year’s election is one of the most critical in our history.”

Has any politician ever said otherwise? “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for some straight talk: this election won’t make any difference. I’m not even voting, and I’m running for president!” Maybe during that string of pre-Lincoln nobodies in the mid-19th C. (Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan).

STEVE: What’s funny is the election that didn’t figure to be “critical” turned out to be the most critical of all: 2000. Everything today flows from that one.

*

TIM: [Re: Daschle] “I recently was fortunate to meet with Pres. Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. He couldn’t pay his staff’s salaries. He couldn’t even pay to keep the lights on. No, he didn’t have much money. He barely had enough to survive. But when he came out on stage and he was ready to play, people came alive.”

*

TIM: “Chain of Fools:” Inspired choice, but I think I heard the original. “Five” (vs. “for eight long years / I thought you were my man”).

STEVE: I think they thought they were hearing “Change, Change, Change . . . “

*

TIM: “I’m Bill Clinton, and I am reporting for boo-tay!”

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Rod’s Revolution

“Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been interviewed multiple times by federal investigators looking into allegations that he and key members of his administration offered contracts and state work in exchange for campaign fundraising help, according to documents unsealed Thursday,” the Tribune reports.

“Blagojevich made no mention of the newly unsealed revelations at his fundraiser Thursday night, but in a speech to donors he did allude to critical coverage of him by the media and sarcastically gave that as a reason why he needed to keep raising campaign funds.

“’We can’t just rely on all this good press we’ve been getting these days,’ Blagojevich said while an audience of several hundred chuckled.”

He’s declaring independence from the system.