The [Wednesday] Papers
"They called themselves the 'Chicago connection' and appeared confident that their contacts with Illinois politicians would help persuade newly elected President Barack Obama to lift longtime economic sanctions against leaders in Zimbabwe, according to federal charges unsealed Tuesday," the Tribune reports.
"The two, Prince Asiel Ben Israel and C. Gregory Turner, were charged with violating federal law by lobbying on behalf Zimbabwe's longtime president, Robert Mugabe, whose violent and oppressive regime has been the target of U.S. economic sanctions since 2003."
But here's the interesting part:
"According to the charges, Ben Israel and Turner attempted to persuade undisclosed federal and state government officials - including an Illinois state senator and two U.S. representatives from Chicago - to push for the lifting of the sanctions. The two reached a consulting agreement with Zimbabwe officials to be paid $3.4 million, authorities charged, but it was unclear whether they received any money."
So who was the state senator and who were the U.S. representatives?
"The 56-page criminal complaint described in detail how Ben Israel and Turner allegedly enlisted the support of a 'State Senator A,' who hoped that the election of Obama would cause the U.S. to take a fresh look at Zimbabwe.
"That same state senator wrote in a 2009 letter that he had made a 'commitment' to Mugabe and could use his leadership position with the National Black Caucus of State Legislators to organize a delegation to travel to Zimbabwe and fight for the removal of the sanctions, according to the complaint.
"Records show that state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, chairs the international committee of that caucus. Efforts to reach Trotter were unsuccessful Tuesday. His attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, said he had not seen the complaint and had no comment.
"Ben Israel and Turner were successful in arranging for State Senator A and several other lawmakers to meet with Mugabe and other top Zimbabwean officials during several trips there in 2008 and 2009, according to the charges."
And the reps?
"The charges also described the two Chicago congressmen as sponsors of a failed 2010 House resolution to end the Zimbabwe sanctions. Congressional records show that the only Illinois congressmen to sponsor that bill were U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, both Chicago Democrats.
"Reached by phone, Davis said he has known the two defendants for 'at least 40 years or more' but would not comment on whether he traveled to Zimbabwe or lobbied for lifting the sanctions."
You won't just say "No," Danny?
"In a written response Tuesday night, Rush said he has known Ben Israel for 30 years and called him a small-business man and advocate for Africa and African-American issues. 'This is the first I've heard of this,' he said when asked by the Tribune if he was one of the congressmen referred to in the complaint.
"Rush said he canceled a planned trip to Liberia, Ghana, Angola and South Africa in 2009 because he was ill. He said he did not send four of his staffers in his place but that they went as House committee staffers."
So the major players have been identified.
"Though none of the politicians the men approached are named in court papers or is accused of any crime, the complaint makes it clear that U.S. Representatives Danny Davis and Bobby Rush were targeted," the Sun-Times reports.
"Both co-sponsored a 2010 bill that sought a review of the sanctions, which were intended to rein in the fraud, violence, intimidation and vote rigging that Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party have increasingly relied upon."
That would be this Robert Mugabe.
"The defendants allegedly cited their associations with officials who had connections to then President-Elect Barack Obama," the Wall Street Journal reports.
They arranged a meeting for an Illinois State senator with Mr. Mugabe in November 2008, and they entered into a 'consulting agreement' in late-November 2008 that called for an initial payment of $90,000 and three subsequent installments of about $1.1 million, prosecutors said.
So there's a state senator in the mix too.
Bobby Rush Bonus Item
Racially biased reporting like this?
"The congressman said he could not recall who specifically from the rail agency sought his advice.
"Though the announcement remained on the chamber's website as of Tuesday night, Rush accused the Tribune of lying about the partnership.
"I never had a partnership," he said. "I have a working relationship."
Point, set, match, Tribune.
"He also called a Tribune reporter 'evil' and accused the newspaper of having a historic bias against the black community dating back to its coverage of the 1969 killings of Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark."
Well, that's partially true in that the Tribune does not have a proud history when it comes to race. But that doesn't account for Rush's sleazy tenure in the United States Congress.
"The congressman accused the newspaper of inaccurately reporting that 25 percent of the project's original bid went to minority-owned firms and met the legal requirement. He insists the true percentage is closer to 3 percent. His number, however, does not factor in women-owned firms, which are designated as disadvantaged business enterprises under federal law and were a significant part of the bid.
"Rush also objected to the Tribune's assertion that neither Metra nor the congressman's office had been monitoring the agreement since Clifford refused to cut the $50,000 check. Both Metra and Rush's spokesman said last week that they weren't scrutinizing the agreement."
Point, set, match, Tribune.
Previously in Bobby Rush:
Beachwood, April 27, 2006:
Sweet follows up today on her report about the SBC Foundation giving $1 million to U.S. congressman Bobby Rush's Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation.
Beachwood, May 3, 2006:
It's hard to believe that U.S. congressman Bobby Rush is so dense as to not understand why accepting a million-dollar grant from AT&T's charitable arm for his Englewood community center while sitting on a committee that helps set the nation's telecommunications policy could be fairly construed as a conflict-of-interest, so we can reasonably conclude that he's simply being disingenuous in his attack on Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet, who broke the Rush story [dead link] last week.
Beachwood, July 12, 2010:
"Rush has been leading the charge against net neutrality since 2006, when he cosponsored a telecommunications bill with Texas Republican Joe Barton (lately noted for his defense of BP)," Curtis Black writes.
Beachwood, January 17, 2012:
"U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez of Chicago have racked up so many absences from the House floor that their voting records are among the worst in Congress," the Tribune reports.
Heh-heh. I was quite proud of that one.
Bonus Danny Davis Item
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Posted on August 7, 2013
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