Chicago Sun-Times
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Sweet blog special: Clinton, Obama and controversial fund-raiser with ties to Rezko. Giving back controversial money. Clinton, Obama, fund-raisers in Chicago Monday.

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CHICAGO-- Here are three stories about a Chicago Democratic fund-raiser, Myron Cherry, his ties to the controversial Tony Rezko, under indictment for public corruption and his connections to White House hopefuls Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

Clinton and Obama hold dueliing fund-raisers in Chicago today.

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Lawyer with Rezko link helps Hillary

June 25, 2007

A lawyer referenced in a public-corruption indictment of Wilmette businessman Tony Rezko is among the hosts of a Chicago fund-raising dinner tonight for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign.

Clinton (D-N.Y.) has no direct connection to Rezko. But one of 20 "chairs" for her Palmer House Hilton event is Myron Cherry, who is among a large circle of people to be enmeshed in two federal indictments Rezko is fighting. Most of those people, including Cherry, have not been charged with any crimes.

Rezko figures more centrally to Clinton's chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Rezko has donated money directly to Obama's state and U.S. Senate campaigns, hosted fund-raisers for Obama and once owned a parcel of land next to Obama's house.

In a rare confluence, the Obama campaign tonight will be raising money just blocks away from Clinton's during an event at Fulton's on the River restaurant.

Philip Singer, a Clinton spokesman, declined to comment about the ethics of Cherry helping host an event for the New York senator. Cherry himself said he has done nothing wrong and that his role "if any" in Rezko's prosecution "might be as a potential witness."

Cherry is a longtime Democratic contributor and "bundler" who has been valuable to campaigns because he can land donations from a large network of acquaintances. In March 2000, Cherry hosted President Bill Clinton at his Lincolnwood home for a fund-raiser that raised more than $700,000 for the Democratic National Committee.

In October, Cherry surfaced as "Individual H" in a Rezko fraud indictment that involves pension investments made by the Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois. He allegedly was slated to be the recipient of a fee on one proposed investment deal even though he did no work.

Unlike other people identified as "individuals" in the Rezko cases, Cherry has spoken publicly about the matter. He has said his name was inserted in the deal without his knowledge, and that he is cooperating with authorities.

"My efforts in support of numerous Democratic candidates are quite more than a few over the years," Cherry wrote in response to a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry. "I support Senator Clinton and will support her if she is the nominee for the Democratic Party, and if the nominee is a Democratic candidate other than Senator Clinton, I will support that candidate as well."

Cherry's emergence as a host of the Clinton event comes as Obama has given to charity more than $37,000 from Rezko and five people referenced in Rezko's indictments. Obama, however, has kept $2,850 from two other donors involved in the Rezko cases, though those donations are under review, Obama press secretary Bill Burton said.

Clinton hasn't returned cash from firm under investigation

June 25, 2007

BY CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporter/
Myron Cherry -- a prodigious fund-raiser for the Clintons and many other Democrats over the years -- and his law office have handled several cases for a controversial firm whose executives and associates have given nearly $130,000 to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaigns.

International Profit Associates of Buffalo Grove has been fighting an EEOC sexual-harassment lawsuit and is under investigation by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in the wake of civil lawsuits filed against it.

Gov. Blagojevich, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and other politicians have returned campaign cash from IPA. Clinton, Madigan and others have not.

When asked whether he solicited donations from IPA founder John Burgess and his employees, Cherry replied, "I am aware generally, including from press stories, that employees of IPA have contributed to candidates in Illinois and elsewhere, but I don't keep specific records on such matters."

Jennifer Cumbee, an IPA spokeswoman, said the firm flatly denies the harassment allegations and believes "it has satisfactorily answered" all of Madigan's questions.

Still, its problems have prompted some politicians to return IPA campaign cash. Blagojevich has relinquished about $200,000.

Madigan has received $20,200 in cash and in-kind contributions from IPA and its employees but has not returned any of that. Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said the contributions all were made prior to Madigan being attorney general. Madigan has no plans to accept future IPA donations, Ziegler said.

Like Madigan, Clinton has not returned IPA-related donations. The not-for-profit Center For Responsive Politics has calculated that the firm is responsible for $129,400 in contributions to her since 2000.

Contributing: Dave McKinney, Lynn Sweet

Obama to get rid of 2 campaign donations

June 25, 2007

BY CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporter/
Sen. Barack Obama is giving to charity $3,500 from two donors the Chicago Sun-Times raised ethical questions about over the past several days.

Both donors are among a wide circle of people to be referenced in two indictments of Wilmette businessman Tony Rezko, who is fighting public-corruption and business-fraud charges.

Michael Winter, who gave $3,000 to Obama's Senate campaign in June 2003, and Myron Cherry, who gave $500 to Obama in July 2004, have been publicly identified as Individuals "G" and "H," respectively, in one case against Rezko.

Neither is facing criminal charges. Cherry vehemently has denied any wrongdoing. Winter could not be reached.

"As we reviewed these [donations], we decided we'd be comfortable parting with them," Obama press secretary Bill Burton said.

Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate, has now given away $37,000 from Rezko and people enmeshed in Rezko's cases. Two other donations the Sun-Times asked about are under review, Burton said.

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Amid current circumstances, this attempt to avert a funding scandal is well-thoughtout in my opinion. I would now like to see the candidates turn away from this relatively trivial precautionary measure and address the United States’ commitment to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, which call for cutting world hunger in half by 2015 and eliminating it altogether by 2025. Indeed, it is estimated that the expenditure of a mere $19 billion would eliminate starvation and malnutrition worldwide. In a time when the current defense budget is $522 billion, the goal of eradicating world hunger is clearly well within reach and it is my hope that whoever becomes president in 2008 addresses this pressing issue.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 25, 2007 7:41 AM.

Sweet blog extra: Barack and Michelle fund-raising sprints. How to decode the public schedule. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column: SEIU official quits Obama ad. is the next entry in this blog.

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