The Associated Press has some grim news for a dear Friend of Obama:
A former top fundraiser for ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose trial exposed a culture of pay-to-play politics in Illinois, was sentenced Tuesday to serve seven more years in prison for corruption.
Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former Chicago real estate developer and fast-food entrepreneur, has been in custody for 3 1/2 years while awaiting sentencing. He was sentenced to a total of 10 1/2 but will get credit for that time he has served.
His attorneys had asked U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve to set him free, arguing that he already has served more time than others who were convicted as part of the federal investigation of Blagojevich have or are expected to.
St. Eve told Rezko his “selfish and corrupt actions” had damaged the trust people have in their government.
“You defrauded the people of Illinois, you engaged in extensive corruption throughout the state of Illinois,” St. Eve said.
Fundraising for Blago is hardly the extent of the Rezko resume, as the AP finally gets around to admitting eight paragraphs into their story:
The 56-year-old Rezko also was a political fundraiser for Obama during his campaigns for Illinois senator, though not for his presidential campaign. Obama has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case, but his relationship with Rezko became an issue during the 2008 election.
Really? Why was Rezko’s “relationship” with Obama an “issue” back in 2008? Was it something more than merely fundraising for the Obama Senate campaign? The Associated Press displays great tactfulness and sensitivity in delicately avoiding this subject, which is awfully sporting of an organization nominally in the business of informing people about stuff.
The media really dislikes talking about Tony Rezko’s ties to Barack Obama. You can sift through dozens of stories about today’s conviction without learning about anything more than Rezko’s fundraising activities. Let’s go back to an ABC News piece from January 2008 for the rest of the story:
In sharp contrast to his tough talk about ethics reform in government, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., approached a well-known Illinois political fixer under active federal investigation, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, for “advice” as he sought to find a way to buy a house shortly after being elected to the United States Senate.
The parcel included an adjacent lot which Obama told the Chicago Tribune he could not afford because “it was already a stretch to buy the house.”
On the same day Obama closed on his house, Rezko’s wife bought the adjacent empty lot, meeting the condition of the seller who wanted to sell both properties at the same time.
How did this deal work out for everyone?
While Rezko’s wife paid the full asking price for the land, Obama paid $300,000 under the asking price for the house. The house sold for $1,650,000 and the price Rezko’s wife paid for the land was $625,000.
Obama denies there was anything unusual about the price disparity. He says the price on the house was dropped because it had been on the market for some time but that the price for the adjacent land remained high because there was another offer.
Obama then expanded his property by buying a strip of the Rezko land for $104,5000, which the senator maintains was a fair market price.
Boy, that deal has “middle class” and “99%” written all over it! This sort of thing has happened to all of us, hasn’t it? We’ve all saved a cool $300,000 on the purchase of a $1.65 million house with the assistance of high-rolling crooks under investigation for massive corruption charges who just happened to donate big bucks to our political campaigns, haven’t we? It’s a perfectly understandable “mistake,” as Obama would later characterize it.
So what finally sent Tony Rezko to the big house? The Associated Press lays out the prosecution’s case:
In court papers, Rezko’s lawyers offered a picture of the Syrian immigrant as an eager philanthropist who was “shocked” by Blagojevich’s proposed brainstorming on ways to profit from his gubernatorial decisions.
Prosecutors, though, said Rezko often took the initiative and described him standing before the then-governor and other confidants at an office chalkboard, diagramming various scams.
During Rezko’s nine-week trial, prosecutors said he raised over $1 million for Blagojevich and got so much clout in return he could control two powerful state boards. They accused him of plotting with admitted political fixer Stuart Levine to squeeze payoffs from money management firms that sought to invest the assets of the $40 billion state Teachers Retirement System and said he plotted with Levine to get a $1.5 million bribe from a contractor who sought state approval to build a hospital.
Too bad Rezko wasn’t working on a “green energy” project. Chicago really leads the way when it comes to politicized economies. The big difference with standard-issue Obamanomics is that in Washington, they’re very careful to erase the chalkboard after they finish diagramming various scams.
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