Monday, August 28, 2006

Bling Cherry takes in $900K


Myron "Mike" Cherry has been helping Democrats raise money in Illinois and across the country for years. He was very helpful to Rod Blagojevich and it looks like Rod Blagojevich's government was very helpful to Myron Cherry.

Today, the Sun-Times reported that an open-ended legal services contract that Cherry received from the Blagojevich administration in 2005 yielded $900,000 in just six months. What, precisely, did Cherry do for the work? The administration won't say.

But when asked specifically to provide the scope of Cherry's work, the state agency said in a statement: "For confidentiality reasons, the names of the examinees and the specific services provided cannot be disclosed."
That contract, first reported by Crain's Chicago Business, came several months after the Teachers Retirement System squelched a $250,000 fee Cherry was poised to receive if Sterling Venture Partners got an investment deal with the TRS. The Sterling deal was pushed by an associate of Tony Rezko, one of Blagojevich's two top fundraisers under scrutiny by the federal government.

Once that deal fell through, it appears, the Blagojevich administration apparently found another way to reward Cherry by selecting him to investigate insurance fraud under a lucrative no-bid contract that the administration refused to talk about much to Crain's.

It's unclear how much Mr. Cherry is likely to earn from the work; the Insurance Division wouldn't comment, and he didn't return repeated phone calls.
The significance of the story is that the feds have subpoenaed the aborted Cherry-Sterling arrangement, as first reported last year by the Chicago Tribune.

The entire Cherry saga exactly fits the Joe Cari plea agreement last year in which Cari described a reward system for contributors in the form of pension fees and no-bid contracts.

The news media has only dug up $60,000 that Cherry raised for Blagojevich, but the amount is undoubtedly higher. It looks like Cherry was the lawyer for the Buffalo Grove based International Profit Associates, which gave Blagojevich more than $100,000. That money has since been returned, as this New York Times article indicates, because the man running IPA, John Burgess, was found to have quite a colorful past. Who knows what other money Cherry helped rustle up.

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