Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Chicago cesspool of corruption gets another head on the platter

As if Obama needed another headache after it was found out that Rahm Emmanuel is on 21 separate calls talking with Rod Blagojevich, another head comes rolling down the road care of the Chicago Sun-Times. (HT to Captain Ed) The new head? Eric Holder:

Before Eric Holder was President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be attorney general, he was Gov. Blagojevich's pick to sort out a mess involving Illinois' long-dormant casino license.

Blagojevich and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder's role as "special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board" -- a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington, D.C. law firm up to $300,000.

Holder, however, omitted that event from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week -- an oversight he plans to correct after a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry, Obama's transition team indicated late Tuesday.

"Eric Holder has given hundreds of press interviews," Obama transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement. "He did his best to report them all to the committee, but as he noted in the questionnaire itself, some were undoubtedly missed in the effort to reconstruct a list of them."

Anyone think that excuse passes the smell test? That he conveniently forgot to include his association with Blagojevich from the questionnaire AFTER Blagojevich was arrested. He didn't sit there and think "Oh man, I forgot to include that one." Hell no. That was a blatant omission on his part, and most likely he was directed to by Team Obama as they attempt to run damage control over being implicated in the scandal. Now I have said repeatedly that, thus far, nothing has directly connected Obama to Blagojevich, aside from the "friendly" terms they seem to have when he was a senator and state legislature. But his associates (going back to those he associates with, again) are tied to him. The Sun-Times continues:

Holder signed the questionnaire on Sunday -- five days after Blagojevich's arrest for allegedly putting Obama's U.S. Senate seat up for sale. The Judiciary Committee asked him to provide lists and "copies of transcripts or tape recordings of all speeches or talks delivered by you" and "all interviews you have given to newspapers, magazines or other publications."

The March 2004 Chicago news conference where Holder and Blagojevich spoke was widely covered because of a controversial 4-1 Gaming Board vote earlier that month to allow a casino to be built in Rosemont. That vote defied the recommendation of the board's staff, which had raised concerns about alleged organized-crime links to the Rosemont casino's developer.

Besides that, the Gaming Board's staff had been concerned that the governor had named his close friend and fund-raiser, Christopher G. Kelly, as a "special government agent" to be involved in official state negotiations about the casino. Kelly, the Sun-Times later learned, was a business partner of Tony Rezko, another Blagojevich fund-raiser who had held an option to lease a hotel site next to the proposed casino site in Rosemont.

Rezko, also a former Obama fund-raiser, and Kelly both have denied any wrongdoing related to the casino, though both have been charged in separate, unrelated criminal cases since 2004.

The Sun-Times disclosed Rezko's interest in the Rosemont hotel site about three weeks before the news conference announcing Holder would be involved in the casino case. Holder was not aware of the story when he opted to get involved, a source said.

Geez, this just keeps getting better and better. Now Rezko is connected here (as if there was any question if he'd pop up in this scandal) and the Obama team is furiously trying to kill any questions by journalists related to this mess. Obama did it yesterday when a reporter asked him a question about this. He got testy, and cut him off.

This could cause trouble for Holder, who will be scrutinized by the Senate Judiciary Committee starting on 15 January. His involvement in the Clinton pardons is going to be under the microscope, but the addition of a connection to Blagojevich could make it difficult for Democrats on the committee to approve him.

Oh, and about that testy moment from Obama, Michael Calderone reports that for some in the media, the Obama honeymoon is coming to a close:

During today's press conference, President-elect Baracj Obama brushed off a question from Chicago Tribune reporter John McCormick about the Blagojevich scandal, and what interaction any advisers had with the Illinois governor.

"I don't want you to waste your question," Obama said.

McCormick asked another Blago-related question, and Obama said he wouldn't confirm a report in the Tribune from this weekend. Obama also said that the U.S. attorney's office asked his team to withhold an internal review until next week.

After a few attempts, the reporter finally followed up by asking who had the better jump shot: Obama or incoming education secretary Arne Duncan?

The interaction with McCormick stood out from previous meetings with the press. And speaking about the exchange on MSNBC shortly after, NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker said that reporters have not been aggressive enough during Obama's post-election pressers.

"Our job is to hold him to account," Whitaker said, adding that he thinks "we're going to have to get tougher."

Mr. Whitaker, good luck with that because, chances are, if the press starts asking harder questions, they'll be disinvited from covering Obama. Obama will surround himself with "Tingles" and the monkeys at the HuffPo so that he can get his propaganda and spin out rather than the facts. And about those tough questions, why is it that they're focusing on this aspect of their job AFTER the election? Their job is to scrutinize things ALL the time, not when it's convenient for them. No offense, but if the press is offended that Obama's not being all that open with them, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Publius II


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