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The [Bobby Rush] Papers

Updated on 12/16 as indicated.

"In 2000, in the midst of a bruising but ultimately successful Democratic primary campaign against then-state Sen. Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) launched a nonprofit with a stated mission of reviving the violence-plagued Englewood neighborhood," the Better Government Association reports.

"Called the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corp., the group soon found a generous benefactor in the telecommunications industry: SBC - now called AT&T - donated $1 million toward the creation of a "technology center" that would provide advanced computer training to residents and serve as a small-business incubator in a community with few other entrepreneurial opportunities.

"Congress also voted to spend $175,000 in taxpayer money to buy and renovate a building near 68th and Halsted to house the facility - which was to be named the Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology, according to federal documents and other records.

"But more than a decade later, the money is all gone, and Rush's tech center never moved beyond the design stage. Englewood remains as desperate and desolate as ever, and Rush continues to represent the 1st Congressional District, serving an 11th term.

"As disturbing as the broken promises from Rush, he is unable or unwilling to show where that money ended up, the Better Government Association found. Rush said he did not run the day-to-day operation and kept no records."

Go read the whole thing - highly recommended.

*

UPDATE 12/16:

"For the past dozen years, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., hasn't reported paying any rent for his campaign office, records show, in what experts say could be a violation of federal election law or House ethics rules," the Better Government Association reports.

"It's one of a series of questionable practices an investigation by the Better Government Association and Chicago Sun-Times found involving Citizens for Rush, the South Side congressman's campaign committee. Rush's campaign also has:

  • Subsidized the South Side church founded by Rush, who is the congregation's pastor, giving Beloved Community Christian Church more than $196,000 since June 2004. Those payments apparently helped the congressman's church close on a building it purchased and stave off a creditor.
  • Paid Rush's wife Carolyn Rush a year-round salary since 2007 totaling $404,000 as a consultant. That's nearly a quarter of the $1.6 million the congressman's campaign fund has raised in that time.

Wow, that's positively Jacksonian.

*

"U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and two nonprofits he founded have repeatedly failed to pay federal, state or local taxes on time, a Better Government Association investigation has revealed," the BGA reports in a separate installment.

"In 2013 alone, Rush, his wife, a church the congressman runs and another nonprofit organization operating out of the church had tax delinquencies that added up to as much as $195,000, the BGA found.

"The pattern of tax delinquency for Rush and his organizations goes back almost a decade, records show. But the amount currently in arrears seems to be an all-time high for Rush and his affiliates."

*

"Since 2001, roughly $1.7 million was donated to Rush's pet charities by businesses counting on favorable actions by him in Congress, according to interviews, and public records examined by the BGA," in yet another installment.

"Rush founded three nonprofits that have accepted donations from the utility and telecommunications sectors that he has authority over in Congress.

"Aside from Rebirth, they are Beloved Community Christian Church and its social-service arm, Beloved Community Family Services. A fourth group, the Beloved Community Family Wellness Center, is described as a special 'mission' of Rush's church, but he is not listed on paperwork as a corporate officer. It accepted a single donation from SBC/AT&T, according to the telecom giant's charitable disclosure forms."

*

Rush was too busy hosting a tribute to Nelson Mandela to comment.

*

From the Beachwood vault (dead links have been removed):

March 2006:

Incumbent Bobby Rush is a minister now, which means he's stealing money from his congregation as well as his constituents.

April 2006:

llinois congressman Bobby Rush is a co-sponsor of the 'Communications Opportunity and Enhancement Act of 2006,' which shouldn't necessarily interest you until you learn that Rush is the only Democrat to sign on to the bill.

Curious?

Now consider that the bill is a piece of telecommunications legislation backed in part by phone giant SBC (now AT&T.) And that Rush, of course, sits on the committee that will consider the bill.

Intrigued?

Now reflect on the $1 million in charitable donations SBC started paying out in 2001 to help fund the still-unbuilt "Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology."

April 2006:

"Rush founded the nonprofit, tax-exempt Rebirth of Englewood center, located in his South Side congressional district, to improve the economy of the impoverished Englewood community. Rush sits on its board as does his wife, Carolyn, and the center employs his son, Flynn," [Lynn] Sweet writes.

"Payments for the $1 million grant were made by the SBC Foundation between 2001 and 2004 to underwrite the Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology, envisioned as a training and business resource facility for the Englewood area. SBC acquired AT&T and switched to using the better-known name. The Rush Center still has not opened, though officials are hopeful it will within 12 months . . .

"[T]he Rebirth of Englewood . . . has federal and state contracts, and entities tied to the Beloved Christian Community Church of which Rush is the founder and the pastor. Rush uses money from his federal campaign fund to keep the church afloat."

May 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 last week.

Appearing on Chicago Tonight last night, Rush called Sweet's story "shoddy journalism" and called Sweet "lazy" for apparently not calling the House ethics committee for a determination of whether Rush had a conflict-of-interest.

If she had called, Rush insisted, she would have learned that there was no conflict. Hence, no story.

Rush can't really believe this. But instead of explaining why the confluence of events looks bad - particularly because he is the only Democrat to sponsor a controversial phone industry-backed bill - but is in reality an entirely up-and-up matter, Rush won't even concede that it looks bad.

"No, it doesn't look bad!" he exclaimed. "As a matter of fact, it looks pretty good!"

Any remaining benefit of the doubt one might have extended to Rush disappeared with that statement.

I would never accuse Rush of being lazy. But he is, in the least, practicing shoddy politics, with a side order of stupid for the way he has now opened himself up to further scrutiny. It sure sounds like he deserves it, because, after all, what else is he up to that "looks pretty good" despite the facts on the ground?

Note: Rush, who routed a challenger named Barack Obama in 2000, is expected to slaughter Republican opponent Jason Tabour in the fall. So the system works.

May 2006:

U.S. congressman Bobby Rush got the Sun-Times to publish his complaint about Lynn Sweet's recent story revealing that the charitable arm of SBC (now AT&T) gave $1 million to Rush's Englewood community center. Rush sits on the congressional committee dealing with telecommunications legislation.

Rush argues, as he did on Chicago Tonight last week, that because the House Ethics Committee verbally told him that there was no technical conflict-of-interest, there was no conflict-of-interest and therefore no story.

I'm sure we can all agree it's a good thing the House Ethics Committee doesn't edit the nation's newspapers.

June 2006:

A full-page ad in the Tribune today sponsored by the Video Access Alliance thanks U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush "For Fighting For My Family."

Rush, it seems, "took a stand in support of hard-working families by voting for TV Freedom."

The Video Access Alliance is funded in part by telephone companies, at least one of which has been very generous to Rush. Rush denies this is why he felt compelled to break ranks with his party to become the only Democratic co-sponsor on an industry-backed bill telecom bill.

So it's no surprise that the Video Access Alliance, turns out to be an astroturf lobbying group set up by a strategic communications consultant passing herself and her organization off as something they are not. The real grassroots is in no mood to thank Rush on behalf of their hard-working families.

January 2007:

When Bobby Rush was a Chicago alderman, he had his wife on his payroll. Later he backed his sister for his old seat. So AT&T was a natural benefactor for Rush, given their Friends & Family plan and all.

July 2007:

What in the world is Bobby Rush doing talking about holding hearings about the alleged NBA gambling scandal? Well, it turns out he can hold hearings on anything he wants.

For example, if he wanted to hold a hearing about politicians and their relationships with companies whose bills they vote on, he could do that.

But really, shouldn't congressional hearings be about the public interest, not a congressman's interest?

November 2008:

Bobby Rush is a joke. We all know it, but we don't all say it.

December 2008:

Leave it to Bobby Rush to devote himself to the most important issues facing taxpayers.

"[T]he bill - being co-sponsored by Reps. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, and Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican - will prohibit the marketing, promotion, and advertising of a postseason game as a 'national championship' football game, unless it is the result of a playoff system. Violations of the prohibition will be treated as violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act as an unfair or deceptive act or practice."

December 2008:

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-AT&T) is now at Burris's side. He just thanked God for the decision by Blago. God reportedly called Rush at 6 a.m. and told him he helped make the appointment. At first Rush replied, "Is this a joke?" And then the voice in his head said, "No, it's God."

December 2008:

And by accepting the appointment, Roland Burris has already shown he's unworthy of it. Danny Davis suddenly looks a lot better; Bobby Rush looks like a fool.

Finally, Rush's race-baiting is despicable on several levels, but merely sticking to pure logic, it's not as if Burris is the only African American who can fill the seat. And if the U.S. Senate finds a way to reject Burris, it won't be because of the color of his skin. In fact, whoever would emerge as the alternative to Burris might very likely be African American as well.

So let no one be fooled.

January 2009:

In some ways I almost feel like Bobby Rush is even more despicable than Rod Blagojevich.

"But Rep. Bobby Rush, the South Side congressman who has injected racially charged language into the appointment, said on MSNBC that the sight of Burris holding a news conference in the rain after being refused admittance to the Senate floor on Tuesday was akin to 'the dogs being sicced on children in Birmingham, Ala.'"

Apparently I revere the civil rights movement far more than Rush does.

January 2009:

I'm pretty upset about the Oscar nominations. How could Bobby Rush not get a best supporting actor bid?

August 2009:

Oh no, not again.

The Bobby Rush Show is back for an encore.

Apparently rested and ready for action, Rush, fresh off a successful race-mongering campaign that scared the bejeesus out of weak-kneed Democrats and saved Roland Burris's bacon, is back in action in the case of the University of Illinois holdout trustees.

And again, the congressman is on the wrong side.

Rush has written a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn telling him to back off his demand that the remaining two trustees resign like their colleagues did. Quinn wants to appoint a new board in the wake of the school's admissions scandal.

Rush calls holdout James Montgomery an "outstanding citizen" and holdout Frances Carroll a person of high moral character, according to WBEZ.

Right.

While not the most egregious violators of ethics and good sense, both Montgomery and Carroll dipped their hands into the admissions process to help favored students get into the school despite the fact that they would have been denied under normal conditions.

Last week Carroll complained that she was being treated like "chattel," an obvious shot across the bow of race. Enter Rush.

And Carroll told WBEZ earlier this month that pressure on the trustees to resign stemmed from their decision two years ago to do away with the Chief Illiniwek mascot.

Under that scenario . . . well, I can't even come up with a scenario under which that would be possible.

Montgomery and Carroll are African American, but the other trustees who have already resigned appear to be mostly white. It's not as if Quinn singled out black members of the board.

If this is about race at all, it's about students without connections being denied the special benefits that students with connections have been getting - mostly wealthy, white suburban students. Maybe that's what Rush, Montgomery and Carroll should focus on.

January 2010:

The Dan Hynes ad featuring Harold Washington ripping Pat Quinn could have been offensive in other contexts, but in this case it's effective because what Washington says resonates so clearly with the Quinn we've seen in office over the last year. What's really offensive, though, is Quinn turning to Bobby Rush and - as Eric Zorn describes it - his "deckful of race cards."

*

Memo to Quinn: Putting out an ad calling an opponent desperate is always the act of a desperate man.

January 2010:

And I didn't see Quinn balking at appearing with walking conflict-of-interest and race-monger Bobby Rush - or declining to seek Richard M. Daley's endorsement.

February 2010:

For example, the Tribune has spent a lot of time calling for a revolution at the ballot box, yet it is endorsing the likes of Andy McKenna, Bobby Rush, Dan Lipinski and Deborah Mell. Hello?

"You can skip the election and, once again, give the insiders of Illinois and Cook County free rein to tax, borrow, spend, reward their cronies and generally lord it over you," the Tribune says today. "Or you can clip-and-carry the endorsements on today's Editorial page into the voting booth and rock their world."

Really? Voting for Dan Lipinski will rock the world of hacks, cronies and certified members of Machines and Combines everywhere? Andy McKenna?

[snip]

And maybe the Trib has forgotten Bobby Rush's role in solidifying the seating of Roland Burris as U.S. Senator, which the paper fulminated against for months.

July 2010:

The curious case of Bobby Rush's curiously timed hearing of his own.

"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. "As Newstips noted at the time, that bill was introduced just before the Sun Times revealed a $1 million donation from SBC and AT&T to a charity founded by Rush."

November 2010:

Both papers endorse hapless race-baiter Bobby Rush. The Green Party candidate is Jeff Adams and the Republican is Ray Wardingley. Adams is preferred, but either would be acceptable as a way to dislodge Rush.

January 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.

"Rush has missed 13.2 percent of the votes in his congressional career, the fourth-worst record among current House members. Gutierrez has missed 11.6 percent of votes, which ranks him as the seventh-least-frequent voter in the House."

Here's the coup de grace:

"Rush and Gutierrez, both Democrats who entered Congress in 1993, turned down interview requests from the Tribune, leaving the explanations to their staffs."

Maybe they were busy at a get-out-the-vote rally.

*

Congressional votes aren't the end-all be-all, but the Trib does a pretty good job destroying the lame excuses offered by the likes of Rush spokesperson Renee Ferguson, a former local TV reporter who once described her job as "looking to see if there is a larger pattern to a singular event."

*

She also said:

"I may ask the client to shoot (video) undercover for me."

Wow. All sorts of issues there. Then again, perhaps we could ask her to shoot undercover video of where Rush is when he's supposed to be voting.

November 2012:

I don't know what's most aggravating about Bobby Rush, his unholy alliance with the nation's telecoms, his race-baiting grandstanding or his nonsensical hyperbole. Probably it's the fact that there's no evidence he does anything for his district that couldn't be done by a cardboard cutout.

"Rush has one of the safest Democratic districts in the country, and he acts like it," the Tribune says. "He refused to meet with his Republican opponent for an interview with the editorial board." He also has "one of the worst missed-vote records in Congress over the course of his career."

It's time for a change.

August 2013:

"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?

[snip]

"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.

[snip]

"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.

[snip]

Bobby Rush Bonus Item
"U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush defended his role in a controversial South Side rail project Tuesday, saying racially biased reporting unfairly characterized his recommendation that Metra pay $50,000 to a little-known Washington, D.C., group to monitor minority participation," the Tribune reports.

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.

*

Enough. Rush has been propped up - by the likes of AT&T, Quinn and our esteemed editorial boards - long enough. Way past time for him to go.

-

Comments welcome.



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Posted on December 13, 2013


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