According to the NYT, Obama’s Effort on Ethics Bill Had Role in Governor’s Fall
Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say.
Tipped off to Mr. Blagojevich’s efforts, federal agents obtained wiretaps for his phones and eventually overheard what they say was scheming by the governor to profit from his appointment of a successor to the United States Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Obama. One official whose name has long been mentioned in Chicago political circles as a potential successor is Mr. Jones, a machine politician who was viewed as a roadblock to ethics reform but is friendly with Mr. Obama.
The article goes on to mention that
Mr. Obama was an adviser to Mr. Blagojevich’s first campaign for governor, in 2002, and endorsed him again in 2006, even though by that time questions had been raised about the possible selling of state jobs. Mr. Obama has also credited one of Mr. Blagojevich’s closest confidants, Antoin Rezko, a businessman who was convicted of corruption charges this year, with helping him get his own start in politics.
Mr. Rezko was among the first to contribute to Mr. Obama’s earliest State Senate race, in 1995, and later became a major fund-raiser for his campaign for the United States Senate. Mr. Rezko was known around Chicago as a collector of politicians, and he did not hesitate to make the most of his high-level contacts. The New York Times reported last year that when he was entertaining Middle Eastern financiers at a Four Seasons hotel in Chicago, he arranged for Mr. Blagojevich and Mr. Obama to drop by, separately and on different occasions, to impress his guests.
Mr. Rezko derived his political influence mainly from his close relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, who relied on him to recommend loyal campaign contributors for state appointments to boards and commissions, according to the complaint unsealed on Tuesday. But as Mr. Rezko’s legal troubles escalated, Illinois politicians who had previously found him useful, including Mr. Obama, disavowed him and started returning his campaign donations.
As you can see, the NYT doesn’t mention that land Rezko bought for Obama.
The NYT is willing to come to the fore and make Obama the hero of the day. Their headline says it all.
Which brings us to the real news from Chicago; still, I agree with Roger that
As it happens, I also think it unlikely that Obama had anything to do with the governor’s alleged malfeasance. Shaking down a contractor? Dumb. Threatening a newspaper? Dumber. Selling off a seat to the U.S. Senate to the highest bidder? Positively moronic. Obama is not stupid. He is in fact an exceptionally smooth operator. Therefore, I provisionally conclude, he had nothing to do with this ostentatiously sordid episode.