Everything new is old again
March 4, 2008
The International Herald Tribune reported that jury selection began Monday in the federal fraud trial of businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a fundraiser for Senator Barack Obama who is charged with buying power and influence by providing Illinois political leaders with campaign money. Politicians around the country are watching the trial because Rezko, a 52-year-old Chicago real estate developer, poured cash into Obama’s campaigns when Obama was getting his political start. Some political pundits say Obama’s “new direction” political campaign is funded with old style Chicago racket money. Debate goes on over whether this traditional approach to money and power is a problem, or is just a return to simpler times and the classic Chicago way of doing things.
“Barack is a good fellow and is following the time honored Chicago political formula for getting power with help from good guys who can get him clean money and assist him in controlling troublesome stuff in the future,” said Mango Tortellini, a zesty pasta-like guy, well known in money laundering circles as being fair and never skimming too much. “Dis talk about Tony Rezko being a bad guy or being in the racket is just a Republican right-wing conspiracy and nothin’ to be scared ah. Jus’ forget about it.”
Not everyone is comfortable with Chicago politics or racketeers funding presidential candidates. “It took a long time to clean up mob funded connections to political candidates and we’ve never fully fixed the problem. We can’t afford to ignore it now,” said Eliot Ness, an alcoholic killed in a drunken driving accident but remembered most for putting Al Capone behind bars. “If my schedule were more flexible I’d be on top of this racketeer-funded Obama presidential campaign like stink on a skunk. And I’m not just saying that because I’m dead and don’t exist in this dimension. If I could get back, by golly I’d do it.”
Rezko faces a 24-count indictment on charges that he plotted with millionaire attorney Stuart Levine to muscle payoffs out of firms seeking state permission to expand hospitals and hoping to invest money for the fund that pays the pensions of downstate and suburban school teachers. The case is the biggest political corruption trial in Illinois since former Governor George Ryan was convicted of racketeering in 2006 and sent to prison. Obama has sent some $85,000 in Rezko-related contributions to charity. No one knows how much money Rezko gave Obama, when he gave it, or what other possible funding sources he may have arranged or deals he may have structured.
ABC News reported that Chicago lawyers say Senator Obama may be called as a defense witness for his longtime friend and accused Illinois fixer Tony Rezko. Jury selection for Rezko, accused of bribing public officials and taking kickbacks, began Monday in a Chicago federal courtroom.
“There is nothing to be concerned about relating to my fundraising or plans to nationalize healthcare using the expertise of fine men like Rezko, who have unique connections,” said someone claiming to be Barack Obama, speaking at a ‘Finally Proud of America’ rally organized by Obama’s wife Michelle. “Michelle’s dad was a Democratic precinct captain and his connections to classic Chicago politics have helped me connect with voters in ways that have enabled a man like me with virtually no political experience but good communication skills, to rise to the level of a presidential contender. It’s not important that people know where my money comes from, or how it’s laundered. All they need to know is that it’s managed by experts who know their way around, and that I’m going to bring something different than what American’s have been stuck with for the past two presidential administrations. I may not be my own man, but I’ll be president.”
In other news, in an election choreographed by the Kremlin this past Sunday, Dmitri Medvedev secured a predictably commanding victory to become the next Russian president. No one knows much about him but insiders say all anyone needs to know is that things are being managed by experts who know their way around. Reportedly Medvedev said, “I may not be my own man, but I’ll be president.”
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