Saturday, December 22, 2007

Time to resign, Rod

Every Illinois citizen should read pages 15 to 78 of the federal government's "Santiago proffer" released late Friday on the eve of Tony Rezko's trial. It paints a picture, in great detail, of the looting of state government engineered by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's two top deputies, Rezko and Chris Kelly.

As the newspapers have pointed out, the proffer also reveals two conversations that if true show that Blagojevich (Public Official A) was an active participant in the looting.
At one point, (Joe) Cari had a conversation with Public Official A. Among other things, Public Official A asked about Cari's fund-raising experience. Public Official A stated he had a lot of ways of helping his friends and that Rezko and Co-Schemer B (Kelly) were his point people in helping his friends and coordinating fundraising. Public Official A also informed Cari that he could award contracts, legal work, and investment banking to help with fund-raising. Public Official A ended the conversation with Cari by noting that he wanted to continue the dialogue with Cari about fundraising and that Rezko and Co-Schemer B would follow up with Cari.
And here,
After (Stuart) Levine was reappointed, he shared a private plane ride from New York to Chicago with Public Official A and Co-Schemer B. Levine, Public Official A, and Co-Schemer B were the only passengers on the flight. At the beginning of the flight, Levine thanked Public Official A for reappointing him to the Planning Board. Public Official A responded that Levine should only talk with "Tony" [Rezko] or [Co-Schemer B] about the board, "but you stick with us and you will do very well for yourself."
The proffer is devastating to the Governor and his cronies because it is backed by many recorded phone conversations and public records and certainly is buttressed by revealed and unrevealed informants. Even if Kelly and Rezko don't flip on Blagojevich, there appears to be plenty of others who already have or will fill in the blanks on this scheme.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's track record on corruption prosecutions in Illinois is nearly spotless. This document, if read carefully, leads to the inescapable conclusion that Blagojevich, Kelly and a handful of other Illinois insiders will ultimately be indicted. It also portends, in the short-term, the indictment of Blagojevich's campaign fund, which has been receptacle of much of the corruption.

It was already quite clear that Blagojevich's "Barry Bonds-like" fundraising prowess was fueled by cheating. His pay-to-play on steroids scheme is being dismantled, piece by piece. It's only a matter of time now.

Sure, Rod and the others have the presumption of innocence. That's the legal picture. The perception picture is no longer cloudy. Corruption was so blatant in the Blagojevich orbit that even longtime bi-partisan insider Bill Cellini (Co-Schemer A), who is a central participant in the Rezko proffer, was recoiling.

Co-Schemer A told Levine about how Rezko and Co- Schemer B had been "essentially hammerin' people for contracts ah, with with contracts for fundraising [Rezko and Co-Schemer B had been forcing individuals to make political contributions in order to win State of Illinois contracts]," how Co-Schemer A was a "nervous wreck" about it, and how Co-Schemer A and Levine needed to talk with Rezko and Co-Schemer B about Individual J's threats.
Rod, if he had any decency, would spare the state the coming months of new indictment after new indictment, a government in seclusion, and the further erosion of any public trust in state leadership. We are guessing that Rod will not take our advice because his decency was long ago misplaced.

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn ought to resign, as well. While Quinn is not personally corrupt, he stood silent while Rod trampled on every principle Quinn once said he stood for. Then he described Rod as honest on the eve of his re-election bid and was the direct beneficiary of Rod's dirty money to get himself re-elected. The great reformer sold out. When Rod goes, he should go with him.

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