What the Ata Plea Tells Us

Rereading the Ata plea tells us a whole lot about how business was done in the Blagojevich administration. Strictly speaking there isn’t a smoking gun for the Governor, though there is a lot of circumstantial evidence and the meeting at Rezmar Offices reads like a bad movie plot.

It does shed light on Rezko’s use of the administration as his personal playtoy. He attempted to manipulate Ata into providing IFA funds to his pizza business.

Later that year, Rezko approached the defendant for additional monetary support.
Defendant Ata agreed to contribute $25,000 in additional monies to the campaign of Public Official A.  The defendant, subsequently and by prior arrangement with Rezko, brought a check in this amount to Rezko’s Rezmar offices on Elston Avenue in Chicago.  After he arrived at the Rezmar offices, the defendant was greeted by Rezko to whom he handed the check in an envelope.  Rezko, carrying the check, ushered the defendant into a conference room where he met with Rezko and Public Official A.  Rezko placed the envelope containing the defendant’s $25,000 check to Public Official A’s campaign on the conference room table between himself and Public Official A and stated to Public Official A that the defendant had been a good supporter and a team player and that the defendant would be willing to join Public Official A’s administration.  Public Official A expressed his pleasure and acknowledged that the defendant had been a good supporter and good friend.  Public Official A, in the defendant’s presence, asked Rezko if he (Rezko) had talked to the defendant about positions in the administration, and Rezko responded that he had.

Reading further, it’s clear that whether the Governor knew what was going on or not, Rezko had set himself up to control particular appointments and use that leverage for personal gain.  Not only that, but Rezko weaseled his way into Ata’s LLC by promising the continuation of a state lease.

What some have brought up is that this is simply the Governor accepting a contribution from an ally and then giving an ally a job.  The concern being that Fitzgerald is criminalizing politics, but I think the above goes a lot further.  It’s clear that Ata is claiming he bribed and was coerced by Rezko for official state favors and a job.  Assuming that’s true, the only question remaining if one assumes Ata is telling the truth, is whether Blagojevich knew or was involved in the process.

That such a question is a legitimate question means impeachment hearings are the responsible action.  Molaro tried to say that it was the Fed’s job to investigate potential wrongdoing, but that is what I found to be the most obnoxious claim.   It’s the Fed’s job to search for criminal wrongdoing, it’s the Legislature’s job to determine if the State Government is being used in a scheme for personal gain and as candidate’s machine.

More to the point, even if Blagojevich wasn’t directly involved criminally, that does  not mean impeachment is an unreasonable solution to what has happened under him.  Turning over agencies to a political ally who then used it to benefit himself and sold state positions, fits in that category of incompetence that cannot be left in place.

The defense of Blagojevich comes down to gross incompetence over corruption.  Not the position any public official wants to be in.