Zorn on Obama/Rezko

Eric points out that a big part of the problem of the Rezko-Obama story is self-inflicted.

Rezko’s looming trial date (it’s next month) was bound to exhume any part of the story that had died. The national media was inevitably going to want to take a crack at the tale that places Obama squarely in the skeezy milieu of Illinois politics.

And if he became a top contender, his rivals were bound to look for ways to play the Rezko card and throw him off for at least a few news cycles.

Spring of last year would have been the time for Obama and his advisers to write “The Audacity of Tony,” a meticulous, utterly honest, month-by-month, day-by-day account of all his dealings with Rezko since 1990.

Then to scrub all his political accounts of any donations somehow attributable to Rezko (instead of doing this by conspicuous degrees).

And, finally, to sit with interested reporters until he’d addressed every last question they might still have about the legal work he did for non-profits who worked with Rezko and the granular details of the real estate deal.

His failure to have done this for 15 months doesn’t speak to a guilty conscience so much as it speaks to dubious crisis-management skills.

The real questions left are less to do with the house and more to do with the relationship.  In fact, the house seems somewhat settled by most who have looked into it, but the extent of Rezko’s fundraising is stuck in the fog of campaign finance reports.     As it stands now, everytime anyone with a bit of connection to Rezko surfaces Obama has to account for that person and it’s a never ending cycle.

Those Great Folks at Illinois NOW

Grabenhofer shows up at…Taylor Marsh’s

I thought I’d take a moment to try to add some clarity to the anti-choice Present votes in IL.

Lorna Brett was president of CNOW from 1996-1998. She was not president at the time we were lobbying on these bills. Five of those votes occurred in the 92nd General Assembly session in 2001. NOW records indicate that she hasn’t been a member since 1999. She was not there when we were lobbying against these bills. She is using her very old affiliation with NOW to try to validate her criticism of Hillary Clinton.

Voting Present on those bills was a strategy that Illinois NOW did not support. We made it clear at the time that we disagreed with the strategy. We wanted legislators to take a stand against the awful anti-choice bills being put forth. Voting Present doesn’t provide a platform from which to show leadership and say with conviction that we support a woman’s right to choose and these bills are unacceptable.

The Present strategy was devised to give political cover to legislators in conservative districts. Barack Obama did not represent a conservative district; he could have voted No with very little negative consequence in his district.

– Bonnie Grabenhofer
IL NOW State President

So we have Bonnie Grabenhofer of Illinois NOW against

Illinois Planned Parenthood
Chicago NOW
Personal PACPerhaps someone could ask why Illinois NOW endorsed Lisa Madigan when she had also voted present on some of the bills. To further make the point NARAL hasn’t endorsed and Chicago NOW has endorsed Clinton.
Illinois NOW backed  Blair Hull over Obama in 2004 even after the domestic violence accusation. Given it wasn’t clear that Hull had a pattern I’m not sure that was so ridiculous, but it’s hard to understand how forgiving Illinois NOW is to Lisa Madigan and Blair Hull, but not Obama.

Then again, the site where the letter is posted seems to think they have the Zapruder film of the snub.

And Your Most Liberal Rated Senator is

That milquetoast, middle of the road, centrist guy running for President:

Get your talking points ready, Republican National Committee: Barack Obama is the No. 1 most liberal senator in National Journal‘s vote ratings this year.

The freshman senator from Illinois appears to have tacked farther left after declaring his candidacy for president of the United States. He zoomed to numero uno — bypassing such liberal lions as Edward Kennedy and Patrick Leahy — after placing 10th in NJ‘s 2006 ratings.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, is relatively far behind at No. 16. NJ hasn’t released the full list yet; we’ll post it here when it’s available.

One Week, Nothing More Important

Democrats are pissed off that the new Democratic Congress has been weak an ineffective. Signing on to bills to make George Bush think about the war instead of simply saying not one more damn dollar for this fiasco. Signing on to destroy the 4th Amendment by giving the Executive broad powers to tap phones without judicial oversight.

But how do you send a signal when the other side is even worse? You take out some of the worst of your own party in the primaries. Dan Lipinski came to his office through an act of fraud when the elder Lipinski withdrew and made sure there’d be no competition by sticking a plant on the Republican side of the ballot. He remains in that seat with the blessing of the supposedly tough on corruption Chicago Tribune that dismisses the rank corruption that got him in office and has kept him in office as a number of interlocking State and Federal PACs and Campaign Committees throw money around to keep control of the 23rd Ward and the 3rd Congressional District. Federal employees work for these State PACs and Campaign committees while earning a good living on the tax payer dime. State PACs run by a registered lobbyist.

Oh, and he’s horrible on gay rights, immigrant rights, contraception and abortion, and civil rights.

And he’s in a safe Democratic seat where the primary will determine the ultimate victor. He’s the perfect target: corrupt and conservative.

Mark Pera, on the other hand, got in a race that looked nearly impossible and is oh so close to pulling it off. Help him do it.

Donate or help on the ground or both.

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Why A French Immigrant and not Latino Immigrants

ICIRR points out the reprehensible behavior of Lipinski in going to bat for one immigrant while shafting all the others…

While ICIRR was glad to see Congressman Dan Lipinski come to the aid of French immigrant Corina Turcinovic and her community this week, leaders in Congressman Lipinski’s third congressional district are asking, “What is he doing for the other 11,999,999 undocumented immigrants still living in the shadows?”

he Congressman has voted for legislation that would criminalize pastors, doctors, and teachers for aiding undocumented immigrants, for an extreme amendment that would cut funding to cities like Chicago for declining to enforce federal immigration measures, and for enforcement-only measures like the Secure Fence Act, which assumes we can “block our way out of the current immigration mess.”

Read a statement from community leaders in the 3rd District, or watch the video of last Sunday’s community forum there, which the Congressman did not attend.

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Zorn Points Out the Point of Moving up the Primary in Illinois

Today’s column..


I include myself when I use the term “Stupid Tuesday,” as there are several races, most notably the Democratic primary battle for the very important office of Cook County state’s attorney, where I don’t feel I’ve learned enough or seen the candidates in action enough to be sure of my vote.

And the shorter season also increases the importance of incumbency, money and endorsements by other politicians.

Hmm. The bipartisan support in the General Assembly for cutting six weeks out of the cycle starts to make a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

The Extent of the Rezko Cash

The Sun-Times and Trib really have covered this story well and are simply outperforming the supposed national media stars who continually get the portions of the story just wrong.

Here is a list of top receivers of Rezko cash (Sun-Times April 27, 2007)

1. John Stroger, ex-Cook County

Board president — $148,300

A Rezko company had a contract to maintain pay telephones at the Cook County Jail under Stroger. Also, Rezko has had business ties with Stroger family members and friends.

2. Gov. Blagojevich Gov. Blagojevich -Search using:— $117,652

Rezko has been a longtime supporter and top fund-raiser for Blagojevich, having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaigns. As governor, Blagojevich gave jobs and state appointments to Rezko friends. Rezko has been indicted on federal charges that accuse him of demanding kickbacks from companies seeking state business under Blagojevich.

3. Mayor Daley — $55,950

Soon after Daley became mayor 18 years ago, Rezko’s company, Rezmar Corp., got into the low-income housing business with the city. Rezmar ended up getting more than $25 million from the Daley administration to rehab buildings for affordable housing.

Sen. Barack Obama -Search using:— $54,416

Rezko has been friends with Obama for 17 years. As a lawyer at a small Chicago law firm, Obama worked on low-income housing deals involving Rezko’s company. Rezko has been Obama’s political patron since he ran for the Illinois Senate a dozen years ago. Obama has apologized for buying a piece of property from Rezko’s wife last year to expand his yard.

5. Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan — $43,000

6. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan — $35,500 Madigan got those donations between 1998 and 2000 — “ancient history,” according to a Madigan spokesman.

7. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn — $32,000

As state treasurer, Quinn appointed Rezko to serve on a state housing task force.

8. Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) — $31,375

Rezko was the longtime head of Preckwinkle’s campaign-finance committee. Six of Rezko’s troubled housing projects were in Preckwinkle’s ward.

9. Rep. Luis Gutierrez — $27,250

Friends for more than 20 years. Gutierrez was working for then-Mayor Harold Washington when he met Rezko, at the time a top official with a company that had a Chicago Park District concession contract. As alderman, Gutierrez chaired the Chicago City Council Housing Committee that gave Rezko city property to redevelop into affordable housing. Four years ago, Gutierrez paid the lowest price for a riverfront town house in a Rezko development. The congressman sold it last year for a 40 percent profit.

10. John Schmidt — $25,000

Mayor Daley’s former chief of staff, who ran losing campaigns for attorney general and governor.

11. Secretary of State

Jesse White — $23,848

12. Illinois Comptroller

Dan Hynes — $22,500

13. Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th) — $20,750

Most of Rezko’s low-income buildings were in her ward. Rezko’s contractor and his architect also rehabbed a building owned by Troutman’s late father, Benjamin Troutman.

14. State Sen.

James Meeks — $20,000

15. Former Gov. Jim Edgar — $18,804

Rezko “was very helpful” raising money when Edgar was first elected governor in 1990, according to one of Edgar’s top fund-raisers. While Edgar was governor, Rezko’s company got $9.7 million in state loans to fix up apartments in Chicago