Ali Ata has explained to jurors in Rod Blagojevich's criminal trial how he came to be hired in Rod Blagojevich's administration. It's a slightly more detailed version of testimony that Ata gave at Tony Rezko's criminal trial in 2008.
Ata testified he went to Rezko's real estate office on Aug. 30, 2002 -- shortly before Blagojevich was elected in November 2002 -- to drop off a $25,000 campaign contribution to Blagojevich.
Rezko brought Ata back to a conference room where Ata met with Rezko, fellow Blagojevich fund-raiser Chris Kelly, future gubernatorial chief of staff Lon Monk and state Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville).
At that point, Rezko told the group how Ata had been a "team player" and should be considered for a position within Blagojevich's future administration.
After the election, Rezko told Ata he'd be named executive director of the state Capital Development Board. But Ata later learned that Rezko had been "shouted at" by Hoffman because that job was supposed to go to a downstater.
Then, Rezko discussed making Ata part of a deal in which state leases would be analyzed by an outside firm. That deal fell through, too.
Then, in July 2003, Rezko raised the possibility of Ata becoming director of the Illinois Finance Authority, a new agency. Rezko then asked for a $50,000 contribution from Ata.
"I told him I can do 25," meaning $25,000, Ata testified. He made that second contribution at a Navy Pier fund-raiser for Blagojevich that same month.
At that fund-raiser, Ata said he had a conversation with Blagojevich in which Blagojevich thanked him for his support. Blagojevich also said he was aware Ata was up for a job in Blagojevich's administration.
"It better be a job where you'd make some money," Ata said Blagojevich told him.
Ata said he found the statement strange but didn't react to it at the time.
Eventually, he got the Illinois Finance Authority post in January 2004.