Monday, October 16, 2006

Kelly and the Rezko indictment

Rod Blagojevich has two top fundraisers, Chris Kelly and Tony Rezko. Rezko got indicted last week and Rod said he never saw it coming. He has the same blind spot about Kelly.

However, you don't have to look very hard to see that the feds continue to point the finger at Kelly and they aren't being subtle. Rich Miller astutely picks up on this in his column in the Daily Southtown.

But Kelly plays a significant role in the prosecutors' version of Rezko's alleged lawbreaking. Kelly's alleged role also was highlighted in Democratic fundraiser Joe Cari's guilty plea.
Let's set the stage first with the key paragraph from the Joe Cari plea agreement, where the feds for the first time reveal the possible existence of a massive illegal fundraising scheme orchestrated by Kelly and Rezko on behalf of Blagojevich.
Levine said that a high ranking Illinois public official ("Public Official A"), acting through two close associates, was selecting consultants for the private equity funds that appeared before the State Pension Funds. Levine said that this was part of a fundraising strategy. Levine said that Public Official A, and his associates, were going to pick law firms, investment banking firms, and consultants that would help Public Official A.
Now let's go to the Rezko indictment. Media outlets are reporting that "Individual B" is Kelly.

In or about the spring of 2003, when certain State of Illinois officials advocated consolidating TRS, the Illinois State Board of Investment, and the State University Retirement System, into a single pension fund, LEVINE and Individual A approached REZKO and Individual B for assistance in defeating this proposal. REZKO and Individual B agreed to use their relationships and influence with high-ranking State of Illinois officials to oppose the pension consolidation plan, and in exchange, LEVINE and Individual A agreed to use their influence and LEVINE's position at TRS to ensure that TRS used investment firms and hired lawyers identified by REZKO and Individual B.
The Cari-plea scheme and the scheme described above are the same. The only thing that is missing in the Rezko indictment is that the government does not explicitly say that the firms and lawyers picked by Kelly and Rezko were done so to help the fundraising scheme on behalf of Blagojevich. It doesn't rule it out, either. It uses terminology like "Levine, Rezko, their nominees and associates" in describing the beneficiaries of the scheme. Anyway, this haziness in the indictment undoubtedly is tactical and will be rectified in 11 days when the Levine plea agreement is filed.

Why do I say this with such confidence? Common sense. We already know that Kelly and Rezko were Blagjovich's two top fundraisers. We know that Blagojevich has raised an all-time record of more than $50 million since 2001. And we know Blago's campaign fund was harvesting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from firms with pension business.
Last October, after the plea deal, a Sun-Times analysis of campaign contributions found that Blagojevich netted more than $500,000 in donations tied to firms doing business with state pension systems.
I don't believe in osmosis when it comes to Blagojevich's fundraising. Of course that scheme was benefiting Rod.

Why is Rod saying the indictment has nothing to do with Kelly, when it clearly has a lot to do with Kelly?

And, since this is more than "rumor and innuendo" what does Rod say about Patrick Fitzgerald accusing Kelly of helping orchestrate some of the illegal schemes in the indictment?
It was part of the scheme that defendants REZKO and LEVINE, with the assistance of Cari, Loren, Kiferbaum, Individual A, Individual B, and others, fraudulently used and sought to use the position and influence of LEVINE and other members of the TRS Board of Trustees and the Planning Board to obtain financial benefits for REZKO, LEVINE, and their nominees and associates.
All questions for the media to ponder this week. They already are pondering them in another state, where political writers from the Milwaukee Journal are wondering why Kelly gave the governor there a campaign donation.

If there's a person an incumbent governor in a tough re-election fight doesn't want to be linked to in any way, shape or form, it's someone whom the feds refer to in an indictment as "Individual B."

That's not someone a governor wants to be associated with.

But Gov. Jim Doyle finds himself in the company of just that sort of guy this week.
Apparently, the association doesn't bother our governor.

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