Sunday, June 8, 2008
Well, Tony Rezko was found guilty last week on 16 of 24 counts. Not real surprising although I think he had a good lawyer (Joe Duffy).
The Peoria Journal Star had an editorial on June 5 which is copied below. The editors wonder how far Rezko's ring of corruption travelled in Illinois. I think they are holding their collective breath that it does not involve Peoria.
See this conversation between Thomas Beck and Stuart Levine in 2004 from the Tribune. They were both on the Illinois Health Facilities Board and rigging the voting for Rezko. It is very interesting and one can see that they are hiding quite a bit in this conversation that they did not know was taped by the FBI.
Interestingly, Rezko checked himself into jail after the guilty verdict. I bet he feels safer there after the feds shook him down for names many months ago.
Below is the Journal Star editorial:
Posted Jun 05, 2008 @ 08:32 PM
Last update Jun 06, 2008 @ 11:18 AM
Everybody in Illinois is asking the same questions following Wednesday's conviction of Tony Rezko, the governor's friend and former fundraiser, on corruption charges. Who's next? Will "Public Official A" get his turn?
Of course, "A" is Gov. Rod Blagojevich, outed as being under investigation a few months ago by a federal judge at the onset of Rezko's trial. The revelations coming out of that deliberation - in testimony from the likes of Stuart Levine, Ali Ata, others - have been very damaging to this governor's reputation, which was not so great to begin with.
There is no debate about how influential Rezko was in this Blagojevich administration. Now a jury has taken Rezko's crimes out of the realm of "alleged," saying he essentially put Illinois government, its jobs and its business, up for sale to the highest bidders, while extracting his own cut. Officially, it's called fraud, bribery, money laundering, etc., though the popular term is "pay to play."
Sadly, we've become conditioned in Illinois - it's practically Pavlovian - to think this means another governor is going down, though Blagojevich has not been charged with any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, federal prosecutors have more than hinted whom they're after. "This is a crime that involves the highest levels of power in Illinois," one said in his closing argument before the Rezko jury.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's team may have a ways to go before they reach such altitude. Illinois government is an onion. Not only can it produce a pungent and unpleasant odor, not only does it often make you cry, but there seems no end to its layers of corruption. Peel back one, and there's another, and then another.
That's why we were surprised to hear Fitzgerald call the Rezko conviction "an antidote to the poison of corruption." Well, isn't he the optimistic one? Indeed, we're not so confident. Nor is former Fitzgerald assistant Patrick Collins, who wrote in the Chicago Tribune that "Illinois' bipartisan corruption virus is a particularly resistant strain." He should know, as he helped put former Gov. George Ryan away.
So embedded is this crooked political culture that the FBI has provided Illinois an extra public corruption unit. Its members have their hands full. We trust Fitzgerald will make his way down their list, one by one, until he gets to the bottom of it. Looks like he'll get the opportunity, as both presidential contenders, Barack Obama and John McCain, have said they intend to keep him in Chicago.
Fitzgerald's pattern is now so familiar - circling at first in a wide arc, then tighter and tighter until he pounces on his primary target - that we have a pretty strong feel for what happens next. Rezko will get a choice of two potential prison sentences. The shorter one will be in exchange for any information he has about others now under investigation, and of course for his cooperation in truthfully testifying to what he heard and saw. Rezko will have to decide what he values more - his professional relationships and loyalties, or his freedom and family. If past is prologue, few of these felons fall on their swords.
You'd think that eventually, those on the take in Illinois would get the message that certain political behaviors have just become too risky.
For his part, "Public Official A" says he's saddened by the verdict, but that he has work to do "for the people" of Illinois. We'd suggest that work has already been compromised by this trial and the possibility of more to come. Arguably there is no capital bill in Illinois because too few legislators trust the money to be spent honestly. Talk has picked up of the Illinois House pursuing the governor's impeachment.
None of this was unpredictable, but voters did what they did anyway. For all the talk of Eliot Ness-like federal prosecutors and stronger ethics legislation, Illinois also needs its voters to wake up.
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