Barack Obama cannot be happy with this news:
After deliberating over 12 days, the jury of 10 women and two men convicted Rezko on 16 of 24 counts that accused him of corrupting two state boards and using his influence in Blagojevich's inner circle to squeeze cash from firms seeking state business.But Obama did not have just a passing acquaintance with Rezko. Stephen Spruiell at NRO points out the less than savory nature of their actual relationship:
The two-month trial laid bare an ugly underbelly of Illinois politics, in which high-rollers and powerbrokers secretly called the shots on state deals.
"What the jury did was vindicate the interests of the citizens of Illinois and honest government," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said.
Jurors said their verdict had nothing to do with Blagojevich or Obama -- neither of whom was charged in the case.
The verdict comes as Obama is securing the Democratic nomination and trying to put behind him yet another controversy involving Trinity United Church of Christ. It should be stated at the outset that Obama was not involved in any of the illegal acts a Chicago jury has found Rezko guilty of committing. But Obama is guilty of maintaining a close relationship with Rezko long after it had become clear that Rezko’s primary business was buying and selling political influence for personal gain.
The following fact pattern was out in the open long before Obama severed his ties to Rezko (sometime in late 2006): In 1983, Rezko started raising a lot of money for Chicago politicians. In 1989, he and his partner Daniel Mahru started vacuuming up deals with the city to develop low-income housing, despite having virtually zero experience in the field. They proceeded to obtain over $100 million in city, state, and federal grants and bank loans to develop 30 run-down properties into affordable-housing projects, earning $6.9 million for themselves. By 2007, the city had sued them numerous times for failing to heat these properties; over half of the properties had fallen into foreclosure, and six of them were boarded up.
Obama helped put one of these deals together during his time as a junior associate at Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland. Other lawyers at Davis Miner helped Rezko acquire half of the properties that fell into disrepair. And many of these properties were located in the district Obama represented as an Illinois state senator. Nonetheless, Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was unaware of Rezko’s growing reputation as a slumlord until he read Sun-Times reporter Tim Novak’s two-part series on the subject. So we are to believe (yet again) that Obama was the last person to know what one of his longtime friends was up to.
And Obama's proclaimed ignorance certainly worked to his benefit at the time but is now leading to raised eyebrows:
Even if Obama can claim plausible deniability about the deteriorating shape of Rezko’s slums, he faces a more difficult challenge in explaining why he entered into a real-estate deal with Rezko after the Chicago papers had run over 100 stories about the clouds gathering over Rezko’s head. When the Obamas were looking for a new house in the summer of 2005, Rezko helped them buy their dream home by purchasing an adjoining lot they could not afford, then selling them a strip of the land on which they wanted to build a fence.
Obama admitted to the Sun-Times that when he bought the strip of land, he knew Rezko “was going to have some significant legal problems,” and characterized his decision to buy the property anyway as a “boneheaded move.” Obama said he proceeded with the transaction because Rezko had always acted “in an above-board manner with me and I considered him a friend.”
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown takes note of a somewhat odd occurrence, immediately following the verdict and its possible implications.
Rather than ask U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve to remain free on bond while he awaits sentencing, as is customary in federal court here, Rezko opted to go directly to jail.
He did not pass go. He did not collect 200 excuses as to why he shouldn't have to start serving his sentence.
Heck, he didn't even wait for his sentence.
Even St. Eve seemed to raise her eyebrows just a twitch as Rezko's lawyer, Joseph Duffy, announced to the court, "It's Mr. Rezko's intention to start serving his sentence immediately," in the process saving her from having to make the decision.
That is a very unusual development.
So what are we to make of it?
As Brown points out there may be perfectly reasonable possible reasons for his action. Rezko may have felt his bond was going to be withdrawn by the court so better to spare himself the indignity. Maybe it was his way of showing some sort of contrition before sentencing so that it might help him get a lighter sentence, etc. Or perhaps he had other reasons:
Tony Rezko is a guy who knows a lot about a lot of people. Those people have a very serious stake in him keeping his mouth shut. Rezko is also known to be a very security-conscious guy.
I know this is going to sound overly dramatic, but it's not really that far-fetched to think Rezko may well believe he's in danger if he goes free and that by reporting to jail it's proof that he's not cooperating.
It's one way of saying, "You don't have to worry about me."
Serving time at the Metropolitan Correctional Center is not light duty, as Rezko already knows.
It may sound cruel, but at some point, Rezko is going to have to decide if he wants to see them [his famiily] again outside a courtroom or a prison visitors' room, and when that day comes, he still has some cards to play.
And wouldn't it be nice if he were playing those cards in a game with the President of the United States?
The fact that such a question can reasonably be asked just goes to show how much is left to be learned about Barack Obama and his long list of disturbing associates.
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