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Illinois GOP Sunday launches drive for special election

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ILGOP Unveils Statewide Grassroots Campaign for Special Election


McKenna, Birkett, Schock discuss need for change


Statewide T.V. Buy


FriendsofBlago.com

Live-Connect Calls

CHICAGO -Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, and Congressman-Elect Aaron Schock announced today that the State Party has begun a statewide grassroots campaign to inform voters of the need for a special election.

"The people of Illinois simply cannot trust Rod Blagojevich's Lieutenant Governor, Pat Quinn, to decide who their next U.S. Senator should be," said McKenna. "Our grassroots campaign will inform voters of the need for a special election."

As part of the grassroots plan, the Party on Monday will begin a heavy statewide television advertising campaign.

The plan also includes the unveiling of a new web site, FriendsofBlago.com, which will serve as a tool to inform voters of the web of connections all Democrats have to Rod Blagojevich, reminding them that Blagojevich Democrats should not be choosing our next U.S. Senator.

"Blagojevich Democrats like Pat Quinn did nothing to stand up to Governor Blagojevich and his ethical lapses," added Birkett. "In 2006, when federal investigations were mounting around the Governor, Pat Quinn opted to defend Rod Blagojevich by calling him an honest man."

Rasmussen reported last week that 66% of Illinois voters are in favor of a special election.

"The people of Illinois are in this position because we have a Governor who tried to 'monetize' an appointment to the United States Senate," said Schock. "The people's confidence in our democracy is priceless. The only way to restore their faith is to let this choice be decided in an open and fair election by the people."

The Party will also begin live-connect calls into legislative districts throughout the state, another tool informing voters of the special election, asking them to contact their legislators and voice their support for the election.

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4 Comments

If you want to understand the relationship between Obama, Blago and Rezko, just read the following letter I sent to Patrick Fitzgerald:

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:

Today you told the press, in connection with the Blagojevich arrest, “We were in the middle of a corruption crime spree and we wanted to stop it.” And yet most of the complaint is based on evidence you have had for a number of years. In other words, if the matter concerning the appointment of a Senator were removed, you would still have had enough evidence to indict Blagojevich. In fact, the complaint shows that you have enough evidence for a number of years.

This means that you and no one else, allowed Blagojevich to continue on a “crime spree” long after you had enough evidence to arrest him. Indeed, he would never have gotten to the point at which he was about to sell a Senate seat, if you had arrested him earlier. Why did you not do so? Why did you allow him to commit more crimes?

And now you are about to show the same negligence again. You are apparently about to make the same mistake with regard to Barack Obama. As you probably know, Evelyn Pringle has published detailed online articles concerning Obama’s participation in “Operation Board Games” crimes. Below, I reproduce paragraphs from your own Blagojevich complaint, and after them, a section from the Pringle Obama articles dealing with precisely the same facts as the complaint.

Her articles show in detail that Obama has committed the same 18 USC 1346 crimes you discuss in your Blagojevich complaint. And yet he has not yet been arrested. Why not?

Just as you allowed Blagojevich to get to the point where he was about to sell a United States Senate seat, so you allowed Obama to be elected President, and apparently you are willing to let him continue his own crime spree by actually becoming President.

It was irresponsible for you to continue to allow Blagojevich to continue in office when you had enough evidence to arrest him, and it is irresponsible of you now to allow Obama to continue in office and become President, when you have enough evidence to arrest him.

Arrest Obama now. It is irresponsible of you to wait any longer.

Sincerely yours,

John Ryskamp

I. FROM THE BLAGOJEVICH COMPLAINT

35. As described more fully in the following paragraphs, Mercy Hospital, which sought permission from the Planning Board to build a hospital in Illinois, received that permission through Rezko’s exercise of his influence at the Planning Board after Rezko was promised that Mercy Hospital would make a substantial campaign contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Rezko later told a member of the Planning Board that Mercy Hospital received the permit because ROD BLAGOJEVICH wanted the organization to receive the permit.

36. Levine’s criminal activities included his abuse of his position on the Planning Board to enrich both himself and Friends of Blagojevich. The Planning Board was a commission of the State of Illinois, established by statute, whose members were appointed by the Governor of the State of Illinois. At the relevant time period, the Planning Board consisted of nine individuals. State law required an entity seeking to build a hospital, medical office building, or other medical facility in Illinois to obtain a permit, known as a "Certificate of Need" ("CON"), from the Planning Board prior to beginning construction.

37. Levine, as well as Planning Board members Thomas Beck and Imad Almanaseer, testified under oath at the Rezko Trial.9 Beck testified that he asked Rezko to reappoint him to the Planning Board and that Beck thereafter followed Rezko’s directions regarding which CON applications Rezko wanted approved. Beck testified that it was his job to communicate Rezko’s interest in particular CONs to other members of the Planning Board, including Almanaseer, who were loyal to Rezko. Beck testified that he understood that Rezko spoke for the Blagojevich administration when Rezko spoke to Beck about particular CONs. Almanaseer testified that Beck instructed him that Rezko wanted Almanaseer to vote a particular way and that Almanaseer should follow Levine’s lead in voting on CONs. Almanaseer testified that before certain Planning Board meetings, he received notecards from Beck indicating how to vote on certain CON applications. Beck testified he provided these notecards to Almanaseer and certain other members of the Planning Board to communicate Rezko’s directions about certain CON applications.

38. During his testimony, Levine described a plan to manipulate the Planning Board to enrich himself and Friends of Blagojevich. The plan centered on an entity commonly known as Mercy Hospital ("Mercy") that was attempting to obtain a CON to build a new hospital in Illinois. Levine knew the contractor hired to help build the hospital. In approximately November 2003, on behalf of the contractor, Levine checked with Rezko to determine whether Rezko wanted Mercy to obtain its CON. Rezko informed Levine that Mercy was not going to receive its CON. According to Levine, he asked Rezko whether it would matter to Rezko if Mercy’s construction contractor paid a bribe to Rezko and Levine and, in addition, made a contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Levine testified that Rezko indicated that such an arrangement would change his view on the Mercy CON.

39. Levine’s testimony regarding Rezko’s actions to change the Planning Board decision concerning Mercy’s application for a CON based on contributions for ROD BLAGOJEVICH is confirmed by attorney Steven Loren. Loren testified at Rezko’s criminal trial and, before that, in the grand jury.11 According to Loren, in approximately December 2003, Levine informed Loren that Rezko was against the Mercy CON. According to Loren, Levine relayed to Loren a conversation between Rezko and Levine during which Levine asked Rezko whether a political contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH would make a difference for Mercy’s CON, and Rezko responded to Levine that such a contribution might make a difference.

40. Thereafter, and confirmed by the testimony of Levine, Beck, and Almanaseer, as well as recorded conversations, Rezko switched his directions to Beck and informed Beck that Mercy was to receive its CON. According to Almanaseer, although he previously had been told by Beck that Rezko did not want Mercy to receive its CON, he was later told that there had been a change and that Rezko now wanted Mercy to receive its CON.

41. Mercy received its CON as a result of a controversial and irregular vote at a public Planning Board meeting.12 The vote brought significant publicity to the Planning Board and ultimately led to the disbanding of the Planning Board. Almanaseer testified under oath in the grand jury that not long after the Planning Board vote on Mercy’s CON he saw Rezko at a fundraiser. According to Almanaseer, he was still embarrassed about what had occurred at the Planning Board vote on Mercy’s CON and Rezko’s role in the vote. Almanaseer testified that he asked Rezko why Rezko had switched the vote on the Mercy CON. According to Almanaseer, Rezko stated: "The Governor wanted it to pass."

II. FROM EVELYN PRINGLE’S "CURTAIN TIME" ONLINE ARTICLES

Tony Rezko is a private citizen. Therefore, the evidence presented in the trial focused on his influence over officials in getting members appointed to the Boards. Prosecutors did not discuss how the legislation got passed that enabled the Planning Board to be set up in a way that allowed for the appointment of members to rig the votes to begin with.

That part of the scheme will likely be detailed in future indictments, probably starting with Blagojevich. Blagojevich signed the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act with an effective date of June 27, 2003. However, before he could sign the act, a bill had to be passed by the Illinois House and Senate. As discussed fully in Curtain Time Part II, Obama was the inside guy in the senate who pushed through the legislation that resulted in the Act.

Obama was appointed chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The minute the bill was introduced, it was referred to his committee for review. The sponsors of the bill also served on this committee with Obama. Within a month, Chairman Obama sent word to the full senate that the legislation should be passed.

On May 31, 2003, Senate Bill 1332 passed and specified that the "Board shall be appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate." The legislation reduced the number of members from 15 to 9, paving the way for the appointment of a five-bloc majority to rig the votes.

The corrupt members appointed included three doctors who contributed to Obama. Michel Malek gave Obama $10,000 on June 30, 2003 and donated $25,000 to Blagojevich on July 25, 2003. Malek also gave Obama another $500 in September 2003.

Fortunee Massuda donated $25,000 to Blagojevich on July 25, 2003, and gave a total of $2,000 to Obama on different dates. After he was appointed, Dr Imad Almanaseer contributed a total of $3,000 to Obama. Almanaseer did not give money to Blagojevich.

When the first pay-to-play scheme was put in play, and the application for approval of a new hospital was submitted, the Department of Human Services, along with four other Illinois agencies, sent recommendations that the project should be approved even though experts said the hospital was not needed.

During the trial, Rezko’s attorney presented an email exchange to the jury that hinted at Obama’s role in setting up the scheme. The exchange showed that Obama and seven other top Illinois politicians consulted on the legislation passed in 2003 and were involved in recommending the members for the board.

Matthew Pickering wrote the memo to Blagojevich’s general counsel, Susan Lichtenstein, on behalf of David Wilhelm, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who headed Blagojevich’s 2002 campaign for governor.

Pickering said he and Wilhelm had "worked closely" over six months with state legislators. The memo recommended the appointees listed above and stated, "our attached recommendations reflect that involvement" with the political leaders.

The persons appointed to rig the votes, including those who contributed to Blagojevich and Obama, are cooperating in exchange for immunity or lighter prison sentences.

Feds shut down pay-to-play schemes

Only two pay-to-play schemes succeeded before the Feds swooped in and shut them all down. Blagojevich did not receive the $1.5 million from the Planning Board deal because the hospital was never built.

But Obama received $20,000 from the first kickback paid in the pension fund scheme and the straw donors used to funnel the $10,000 payments, Elie Maloof and Joseph Aramanda, also made $1,000 contributions to Obama’s failed run for Congress in 2000.

In addition, Aramanda gave $500 to Obama’s senate campaign on June 30, 2003. In the summer of 2005, Aramanda’s son landed an intern position in Obama’s Washington office.

Obama also received contributions for his senate campaign from the two persons appointed to rig the vote on the pension fund board. On June 30, 2003, Jack Carriglio contributed $1,000, and the other appointee, Anthony Abboud, donated $500 on June 30, 2003, $250 on March 5, 2004, and $1,000 on June 25, 2004.

The person chosen to funnel the kickback in a future scheme, Michael Winter, donated $3,000 to Obama on June 30, 2003.

All these people are also cooperating in exchange for immunity or lesser prison sentences but prosecutors pointed out during closing arguments that people who entered into agreements with the government are required to tell the truth or all deals are off.


NOOOO!!! The public is just buying into the hype.

What the heck is the point of 4-month senate? Throughout most of history, a governor usually just appointed the senator's widow. Just do what Gov. Paterson is doing in New York State. Gov. Paterson says that the citizens will correct whatever choice he makes in 2010. I would rather have 4 months of ACTUAL ethics reform rather then 4 months of CAMPAIGN PROMISES of ethics reform and a divisive campaign with is expecting to cost taxpayers almost $50 million dollars and ruin Illinois' credit rating making the financial difficulty in Illinois even greater. All this trouble just to prove a political point that has nothing to do with governing and what a senator actual does.

Of course the press is in favor of an election because election cycles always increase the audience and circulation/view ratings go up and they can charge more for ads. But what about the people of Illinois? Just give us Jan Schakowsy or whoever for 20 months and move on to real governing and not campaigning. If Pat Quinn is the governor, then he's the governor and has all the rights and responsibilities of a governor. We did have an election in 2004 for that senate seat and will have another chance again. I know "blame the media" is a silly tactic and no public official ever really wins on that message, but I just find that the calls for this "special election" by public servants are more popular with columnists and editors then with the general electorate.

CRY ME A RIVER!
THE GOP HAS MONEY, AND THEY WANT A SPECIAL ELECTION, THEY WANT THIS SEAT!
THE GOV HAS GIVEN THEM THIS SEAT ON SILVER PLATTER
I GUESS ALAN KEYS IS ON HIS WAY BACK TO TOWN!
WHO WILL IT BE THIS TIME, STOP GRASPING AT STRAWS
OBAMA DEFEATED YOU GUYS, SO STOP WITH THE GARBAGE
AND RELAX, LET THE MAN GET SWORN IN BEFORE YOU
START YOUR NEXT CRUSADE!
THE GOP HAS PROBLEMS AS WELL, DON'T ACT LIKE YOU
GUYS ARE IMMUNE TO CONTROVERSY!
THERE ARE 6 TO 7 MILLION PEOPLE GOING TO AN
INAGURATION THAT DON'T AGREE WITH YOUR ASSESSMENT
TO SPEW THIS KIND OF VENOM IS DISGRACEFUL!

The IL GOP might have some credibility on this if the current leadership hadn't been working so hard to block real elections within their own party.

See: http://www.championnews.net/article.php?sid=1476

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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 December 14, 2008 1:17 PM.

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