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The Blago Proffer

Federal prosecutors revealed new details on Wednesday in their case against Rod (and Rob) Blagojevich when a judge James Zagel denied a defense request to keep the government's Santiago proffer sealed.

Before I get to my favorite excerpts from the document itself, I'll post a few highlights from the punditry and news reports.

*

Sun-Times: "Patti Key To Feds' Case Against Former Gov."

From the report: "[The proffer] described a Blagojevich who almost obsessively discussed cutting a deal to personally benefit from appointing a U.S. senator to Barack Obama's vacant seat.

"'Now is the time for me to put my fucking children and my wife first, for a change,' Blagojevich allegedly said . . . Blagojevich questioned whether the president-elect could do 'something big' in the 'private sector' for Blagojevich in exchange for the Senate seat."

*

John Kass: "There's Always A Method To Blagojevich's Madness."

Line of the Day: "Dead Meat isn't giving up. In a statement released Wednesday, he was his feisty self.

"'There is nothing new,' said Dead Meat's statement, so you'll have to imagine Patti typing it for him."

Comment: My line was going to be along the lines of Blago lying again by saying there was nothing new in the document - weak stuff, I know. So Kass gets the W.

More Kass: "Yet Dead Meat and Patti know the Chicago Way, which mandates that you don't just give a Senate seat away without getting something first, something you can clutch in your hand, like a big chunk of bacon. In this town, to do otherwise would be crazy.

"Patti: 'I don't think you live your life hoping that somebody is gonna help you down the line.'

"Dead Meat: 'Yeah.'

"Patti (Lady Macbeth): 'That's a bunch of baloney.'

"When the Blagojevich trial opens in June - unfortunately right around the time of the 2010 World Cup, creating scheduling conflicts for a certain columnist - foreign journalists from New York and elsewhere will descend upon us, hunting the local flavor.

"They'll whip up quirky features on 'authentic' postcard Chicago, like the aldermen and deep-dish pizza and hot dogs and what about those Cubbies and so on.

"And none of them will wonder why bushels and bushels of Illinois politicians have been indicted and sent away, but not a Chicago mayor.

"The one thing they must believe with all their might is that Blagojevich is not crazy.

"He's just a Chicago politician who didn't want to live his life hoping for a later reward.

"As Lady Macbeth says, that's baloney."

Comment: But he is crazy.

*

Mark Brown: "Blago's Wife Lucky She's Not On Trial, Too."

Opening: "Do you remember how former Gov. Rod Blagojevich reacted when the news media first started questioning his wife Patti's business dealings, in particular how she had collected real estate broker commissions from the sale of properties involving his political pals?

"I sure do.

"'Sexist,' complained the governor. 'Neanderthal,' he roared.

"How dare anyone suggest that Patti Blagojevich's financial success was anything other than the result of her own accomplishments as an independent businesswoman.

"When he quickly tired of delivering this message himself, the governor sent forth his spokeswoman to forcefully play the sexism card for him, guilt-tripping any who would question what the first lady had done to earn her money.

"'Her real estate work has nothing to do with state government," the spokeswoman told the Sun-Times. 'She has every right to pursue her own professional success. The ongoing effort to suggest that her success is the result of her husband's position is flat wrong . . . and it's based on outdated and biased assumptions about women's abilities in business.'

"Actually, the questions were based on the admittedly biased but very up-to-date assumption that the governor was a crook and his wife not much better, and after reading through what federal prosecutors say they will prove at Blagojevich's trial, I'd have to say as usual that we in the news media didn't realize the half of it."

Comment: I'll do what Brown didn't: Name that spokesperson. It was Abby Ottenhoff. And I'll do another thing Brown didn't do: Link to the original story in which she said that: "Patti's $47K Rezko Deal."

There is value in your archives, newspaper people. Both journalistically and commercially - the story I linked to has ads surrounding it.

Instead, the Sun-Times links to outdated and irrelevant "Related Blog Posts" from other sources under Brown's column.

Also, the Sun-Times feels compelled to advise readers that "The views expressed in these [related] blog posts are those of the author and not of the Chicago Sun-Times."

Isn't the same thing true of Brown's column - and that of every other columnist?

*

And now, from the proffer itself.

The Plan
"From what Blagojevich said about appointments to boards and commissions, Monk understood that Blagojevich viewed those appointments as an opportunity to reward big fundraisers or Blagojevich's supporters. Blagojevich consistently wanted to know who recommended a particular candidate for a board or commission slot.

"When Kelly and Rezko made their recommendations for people to be on boards and commissions, Monk knew that they were often rewarding people who had made contributions to Blagojevich or who were going to do so.

"Rezko and Kelly demonstrated over time that they had more interest in certain boards than others and particularly that they were interested in the boards that controlled money, including the pension boards like the Teachers' Retirement System, the Illinois State Board of Investment, and the State University Retirement System."

Joe Cari
"In approximately late Summer 2003, Cari had a conversation with David Wilhelm, who had previously been involved in Blagojevich's campaign for governor. Wilhelm asked Cari to meet Kelly. Wilhelm told Cari that Kelly and Rezko were two key people who were close to Blagojevich.

"Wilhelm asked Cari to talk to Kelly about the mechanics of setting up a national fundraising operation for Blagojevich. Shortly after the conversation with Wilhelm, Cari met with Kelly and Wilhelm. Cari discussed with Kelly what it would take to build a national fund-raising operation for Blagojevich.

"Shortly after meeting with Kelly, Cari had dinner with Stuart Levine, who was a member of a state pension board and an associate of Kelly and Rezko. Cari first met Levine in 2002 when Cari was obtaining funds from Levine's state pension board for Healthpoint and had kept in touch with Levine after that point. Levine was following up on Cari's meeting with Kelly and was gathering additional fundraising information.

"Levine told Cari the information would be shared with Rezko.

"Levine also told Cari that Rezko was helping Blagojevich fill State of Illinois board slots and that Levine owed Rezko for Rezko having helped get Levine on certain state boards.

*

"Not long after meeting with Levine, Cari agreed to assist in a fundraiser being held for Rod Blagojevich in New York City.

"On the morning of the fundraiser in October 2003, Cari flew to New York City with Rod Blagojevich, Kelly, Levine, and others.

"During the plane ride, Cari had a conversation with Rod Blagojevich. Rod Blagojevich stated he had aspirations beyond being governor and that fundraising was the key to political success. Rod Blagojevich stated that Rezko and Kelly were Blagojevich's point people in coordinating fundraising and helping Blagojevich's supporters. Blagojevich informed Cari that Blagojevich could award contracts, legal work, and investment banking to help with Blagojevich's fundraising. The conversation ended with Blagojevich stating that he wanted the dialogue with Cari about fundraising to continue and that Rezko and Kelly would follow up with Cari.

"At the fundraiser that evening, Cari had a conversation with Levine. Among other things, Levine informed Cari that there was a plan in place that Rezko and Kelly, on behalf of Blagojevich, would help pick lawyers, consultants, and others to get state business and then request campaign contributions from those who received State work."

The Gang of Four
"Blagojevich, Rezko, Kelly, and Monk had conversations, individually and collectively, about how the four of them could make money from their control over the State of Illinois government.

"In those conversations, Blagojevich, Rezko, Kelly, and Monk discussed a number of specific ideas for making money, such as through operating businesses that would get state money in different ways or receiving fees from people who did business with the state.

"Blagojevich, Rezko, Kelly, and Monk did not expect to have to invest significant money in any of these deals; instead, they were simply looking to collect money from the deals in the form of a finder's fee or from revenue that might be generated from the deals.

"As a general matter, Rezko was the one who was trying to set up the money-making arrangements and Kelly and Rezko were the most knowledgeable about how the plans would work. Blagojevich and Monk would then use their power and authority in state government as needed to assist whatever plans Rezko and Kelly put in place.

"The conversations about making money from state action began before Blagojevich actually won the election in 2002.

"Kelly brought up the idea to Monk in 2002, when it seemed pretty certain that Blagojevich would win. In that conversation, Monk understood Kelly to suggest that Kelly, Monk, Blagojevich, and others could benefit if Blagojevich won the election. Kelly said that there was money to be made from Blagojevich being Governor and that the Republicans had been doing the same for a long time.

"There were occasions after Blagojevich became Governor that Blagojevich, Kelly, Monk, and Rezko all met to discuss their efforts to make money from state action. For example, the four men met in a conference room at the offices of one of Rezko's businesses in about mid to late 2003.

"During the meeting, Rezko led the discussion, standing at an easel or chalkboard and listed at least three or four different ideas or plans to make money being developed by Rezko that involved some kind of state action. At times, Kelly got up during the meeting and clarified or added to things that Rezko was saying. Blagojevich mostly listened during the meeting, but was engaged. As Rezko talked, he indicated how much money Blagojevich, Kelly, Rezko, and Monk could hope to make from the different ideas.

"The amounts that were associated with the different ideas were typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per deal, which would be evenly split four ways.

"At times, Blagojevich, Kelly, Rezko and Monk also talked individually about their efforts to make money in a variety of ways. Blagojevich, Kelly, Rezko, and Monk stopped talking about the ideas about making money directly from their control over the State at some point after they learned that Stuart Levine had been confronted by the FBI in the spring of 2004."

Operation Ali Ata
"After Rezko learned that he was being investigated, Rezko spoke with Ata on several occasions about not cooperating with the federal investigation. From those conversations, Ata understood that Rezko was trying to have the United States Attorney replaced, and that something negative would happen to those who cooperated with the investigation.

Roosevelt & Clark
"After Blagojevich, Kelly, Rezko, and Monk learned that Levine had been confronted by law enforcement agents in May 2004, their discussions about how to make money shifted. In particular, there were more discussions about how Blagojevich, Kelly, and Monk could benefit from a real estate development that Rezko was working on at Roosevelt and Clark in Chicago. Rezko talked about different ways that Blagojevich, Kelly, and Monk could benefit from the project, such as by having Blagojevich's wife work on marketing the project or by Monk working on the project after he left state government.

Realtor Patti
"Beginning in the Fall of 2003, Rezko had also arranged for Blagojevich's wife to receive money on various real estate transactions that she did not earn."

*

"Around August 27, 2003, Rezko told Individual B, the Chief Financial Officer for Rezmar, that Rezko wanted to get a check to Blagojevich's wife. Rezko asked Individual B how Rezmar might be able to associate the issuance of the check with one of Rezmar's projects. Rezko did not tell Individual B that Rezko had an agreement with Blagojevich's wife that required him to pay her or her company money.

"Based on Rezko's instructions to find a payment that looked legitimate, Individual B determined that a payment of $14,369.50 could be made to Blagojevich's wife's firm and made to look as if it were a 2½ percent commission on the sale of a housing unit that had recently closed in a development project that Rezko owned through another company.

"Individual B did not believe that either Blagojevich's wife or her company had done anything with respect to that sale, which had actually been handled by a sales agent who had an exclusive agreement to broker the sales of the units in the development project. Individual B went back to Rezko and told him that a unit in the development project had recently closed and a check could be issued to Blagojevich's Wife's Firm as a commission related to that transaction if Rezko desired. Rezko agreed. Individual B directed Rezmar staff to prepare a $14,369.50 check made payable to Blagojevich's Wife's Firm.

"After the check was prepared, Individual B gave the check to Rezko to sign and said that Rezko should sign the check. Rezko said that he would. Individual B did not sign the check because he questioned the appropriateness of the check, and he did not believe that Blagojevich's wife had done anything on this transaction. The$14,369.50 check was ultimately deposited into a bank account in the name of Blagojevich's Wife's Firm."

Patti's Work Ethic
"In around October 2003, Blagojevich's wife entered into a contract on behalf of her company with Rezmar in which Blagojevich's Wife's Firm agreed to perform unspecified real estate brokerage services to Rezmar in exchange for a monthly retainer of $12,000 plus the possibility of additional commissions depending on the amount of deals brokered.

"Beginning in October 2003, at Rezko's direction, Individual B prepared a series of $12,000 checks pursuant to that agreement, which Individual B delivered to Rezko or his assistant. Ultimately, Rezmar issued 8 separate $12,000 checks, totaling $96,000, to Blagojevich's Wife's Firm on approximately a monthly basis from October 2003 through May 2004. Those checks were deposited into a bank account held by Blagojevich's Wife's Firm.

"In about May of 2004, Rezko told Individual B that Rezmar would not be issuing any more of these monthly checks. Employees at Rezmar were not aware of services that Blagojevich's Wife's Firm provided to Rezmar that justified the payments made under the contract. For example, Individual B was not aware of any properties that Rezmar acquired based on Blagojevich's wife's efforts from October 2003 through May 2004, and understood that other Rezmar employees and officers were responsible for identifying real estate opportunities prior to and during this period of time.

"Michael Winter, who was a senior consultant at Rezmar, observed Blagojevich's wife in the Rezmar offices from time to time, although Blagojevich's wife often had a child with her and usually left soon after she arrived. At some point after the spring of 2003, Rezko asked Winter to involve Blagojevich's wife in business activities that Winter conducted on behalf of Rezmar. Winter knew that Blagojevich's wife was being paid by Rezmar.

"Rezko said to Winter words to the effect that "We are paying [Blagojevich's wife] this money, I would like you to get her involved in things that you are doing" which Winter understood was a reference to the money that Blagojevich's wife was making under her contract.

"While Winter made a few efforts to include Blagojevich's wife in his business affairs, to his knowledge, she was not able to make a significant contribution. On a few occasions, Rezko told Winter that Blagojevich's wife had referred a property to Rezmar to see if Rezmar was interested in buying and developing the site. To Winter's knowledge, the properties Blagojevich's wife identified were not suitable for Rezmar, and Rezmar did not purchase any of the properties that Blagojevich's wife referred.

"At one point, Winter told Rezko that he thought that Rezmar's hiring of Blagojevich's wife was not a good idea. Winter said that he thought that it was a bad idea to have someone on retainer for the type of work that it was contemplated that Blagojevich's wife would be doing for Rezmar.

"Monk also spoke with Blagojevich, his wife, and Rezko about Blagojevich's wife's contract with Rezmar. Blagojevich was concerned that there might be the perception that his wife was a ghost payroller if she did not go into Rezko's offices. Monk had conversations with Blagojevich and his wife about the need for her to actually go into the office to work on a regular basis.

"The problem with that approach, however, was that Blagojevich's wife was taking care of their infant daughter.

"Monk talked with Rezko about the issue of Blagojevich's wife going to the office. Rezko was willing to do whatever it took to get her money, whether it was from a monthly retainer or through hiring her to work on his development at Roosevelt and Clark.

"Rezko did not seem to care if she actually did anything to earn the money. Rezko was only concerned about ensuring that Blagojevich did not have to worry about his finances.

Operation Hire Patti
"After there was significant publicity in the media about the real estate business of Blagojevich's wife, Blagojevich tried to obtain a job for her by using his power as Governor.

"After John Harris became Blagojevich's Chief of Staff in 2006, Blagojevich talked to Harris and others within the Office of the Governor about getting Blagojevich's wife a job.

"Blagojevich wanted to hire his wife at the State of Illinois.

"Harris thought this was a terrible idea and told Blagojevich to talk to Individual F, a political consultant who worked with Blagojevich, about this, because Harris believed that Individual F would tell him it was a terrible idea. Individual F told Blagojevich that he couldn't hire his wife at the State.

"In approximately the beginning of 2008, Blagojevich would often threaten to put his wife on a paid state board, particularly the Pollution Control Board, if Harris and others within the Office of the Governor were not successful in finding her suitable employment. The Pollution Control Board was a high-paying state board, with an annual salary of over $100,000 per year.

"The position involved a considerable workload and weekly meetings, as well as specific qualifications which Blagojevich's wife did not meet. When Harris told Blagojevich that his wife did not meet the qualifications for the board, Blagojevich was unhappy and mentioned another board member whom he thought was unqualified and basically said that if this other unqualified person could sit on the board, then his wife should be able to as well.

"Harris told Blagojevich that he had not made that other appointment (it had happened before Blagojevich was Governor) and that even if that individual was not in fact qualified, it didn't offer an excuse to put Blagojevich's wife, who was definitely unqualified, on the board. Harris also explained to Blagojevich that the Pollution Control Board met regularly and involved considerable work, which Blagojevich said was not the type of paid position that he was looking to get his wife.

"In approximately mid-2008, Blagojevich wanted to get his wife a job with an entity that did business with the State of Illinois that could use her Series 7 license, which is a requirement in the United States for individuals to act with as a broker-dealer and communicate with retail investors.

"Harris told Blagojevich that Blagojevich's wife could not work with an entity that did business with the State of Illinois. Despite this, Blagojevich asked Harris for a list of the financial houses that did business with the State. Blagojevich also asked Harris if he knew anyone to whom Harris could introduce his wife in order to help her get a job using her Series 7 license. In response to this request, Harris set up a meeting for Blagojevich's wife with Individual G, who worked at a Financial Institution 1, to advise her on the industry in general. Individual G met with Blagojevich's wife but did not do anything further for her.

"Blagojevich's wife complained to Blagojevich about what Financial Institution 1 was doing/not doing with respect to her. Blagojevich told Harris that he was upset with what Financial Institution 1 was doing and said he did not want Financial Institution 1 to get any more business from 'us,' meaning the State of Illinois, because of Financial Institution 1's failure to help his wife."

Operation Extort A Congressman
"In late 2005, United States Congressman A was assisting the Academy of Urban School Leadership obtain a $2 million grant from the State of Illinois. AUSL, sometimes referred to as the Chicago Academy, runs various schools and helps train teachers to teach at other schools. The $2 million grant was to be used to refurbish athletics fields at an AUSL-sponsored high school.

"During the relevant time period, AUSL was in United States Congressman A's congressional district. Ultimately, in late 2005, United States Congressman A and AUSL succeeded in obtaining Blagojevich's agreement that the State of Illinois would provide the $2 million grant. A press conference announced the grant. Based on Blagojevich's agreement to fund the grant, AUSL began hiring contractors to do the construction work and, in Spring 2006, began the construction work.

"Although AUSL incurred significant expenses as part of the construction, the grant money was not forthcoming from the State of Illinois. By the Fall of 2006, contractors were threatening to stop work based on AUSL's failure to pay them and AUSL was desperately trying to obtain the grant money that Blagojevich had promised.

"After AUSL had begun construction, Deputy Governor B began to get phone calls from United States Congressman A and others working for United States Congressman A about the status of the funding for the grant. United States Congressman A and others informed Deputy Governor B that it was problematic that the grant had not been funded and that AUSL had started working on the project but did not have money to pay for the work.

"United States Congressman A wanted to know when the money would be released for the grant. Deputy Governor B agreed to look into the matter.

"Eventually, Deputy Governor B talked to the Governor's budget director about the grant and was told that the hold up was in the governor's office.

"After the construction started on the AUSL project, Deputy Governor B had a conversation with Blagojevich about the grant. Deputy Governor B told Blagojevich about his conversations with United States Congressman A and that United States Congressman A was upset about the funding not being released. Blagojevich then said words to the effect of, 'where is my fundraiser and tell [United States Congressman A] to have his brother have a fundraiser.'"

Operation Cubune
"At the suggestion of his wife, Blagojevich discussed with Deputy Governor A and ultimately directed Harris to threaten Individual J, who was both the owner of the Tribune and the Cubs, that the IFA would not be able to participate in the sale of Wrigley unless certain members of the Tribune's editorial board were fired.

"On the evening of November 3, 2008, Blagojevich talked to Deputy Governor A (Blagojevich Call #162). Blagojevich stated that he was concerned about possibly being impeached in the Spring and that the Chicago Tribune would be 'driving' the impeachment discussion.

"Deputy Governor A reported to Blagojevich the results of the research he had done personally into Tribune articles discussing impeachment of Blagojevich. Deputy Governor A discussed an editorial from the Chicago Tribune regarding the endorsement of Illinois House legislative leader and calling for a committee to consider impeaching.

"At one point during the phone call, Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A to tell Blagojevich's wife about what the articles said.

"Deputy Governor A gave Blagojevich's wife some of the information he had also told Blagojevich. In response to what the Tribune had written, Blagojevich's wife suggested holding up the Cubs deal, which Deputy Governor A understood to be the proposed Tribune deal at the IFA.

"Blagojevich then got back on the phone and directed Deputy Governor A to put together the articles in the Tribune that were on the topic of removing Blagojevich from office. Blagojevich said that he would have Harris go to Individual J and tell him (in certain terms) to fire the editorial board members or they won't be able to have the IFA involved in the Wrigley sale.

"On November 4, 2008 (Blagojevich Call #193), Blagojevich directed Harris to tell Tribune Company representatives that the Wrigley Field project would no longer move forward unless the Tribune fired people on the editorial board.

Obama's Senate Seat
"Blagojevich conspired to name Senate Candidate B to the Senate seat in exchange for a variety of benefits to himself or his family, including high-ranking and salaried jobs in federal government, well-paying jobs at private foundations, a well-paying leadership position with a labor organization known as Change to Win, corporate board positions, and a well-paying job that would be available to him after he left the governorship at a newly created not-for-profit organization funded with millions of dollars in contributions by persons associated with the President-elect."

*

"Blagojevich specifically asked those he believed to be representing Obama for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in exchange for naming Senate Candidate B to the Senate seat.

"Later, when it became clear that Blagojevich would not receive the Secretary of HHS position in exchange for naming Senate Candidate B, Blagojevich asked those he believed to be representing Obama for millions of dollars in funding for a not-for-profit organization, where Blagojevich could later obtain a well-paying job, in exchange for naming Senate Candidate B to the Senate seat.

"After Senate Candidate B removed her name from consideration for the Senate seat, Blagojevich's plans to obtain a personal benefit for the Senate seat were stifled by the fact that nobody appeared willing to pay Blagojevich for the Senate seat."

Operation Find Rod A Job
"Starting in approximately Summer 2008, Blagojevich talked to Harris about the fact that Blagojevich was concerned about Blagojevich's life after he was governor. Blagojevich expressed concern that he was not very employable."

As Donald Trump - and a nation - would learn.

-

Comments welcome.



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Posted on April 15, 2010


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