Sunday, March 02, 2008

Rezko and Republicans: The Big Connection

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune reports:
With Rezko's jury being selected, you might think Republicans would feel some excitement running down their legs, the way liberal pundits tingle with Obamamania, or the way teenage girls respond to photographs of Justin Timberlake. Instead the Republicans are subdued. As I've warned before, the Rezko trial isn't about Obama. It is about Rezko and some Democrats, like Gov. Rod "The Unreformer" Blagojevich. But it also involves Rezko and powerful Illinois Republicans with national reach.

What's on trial is the Illinois Combine.

The key witness is former Republican power broker and alleged cocaine user Stuart Levine, who will testify he stacked state boards that decide which politically connected investment firms get billions of state pension fund dollars to play with.

Confused? Combine Republicans and Democrats put their friends on those government boards, grease each other up with deals and kickbacks, and squeal with delight. We pay for this bipartisan cooperation in higher taxes, the Chicago Way.

Levine isn't the only Republican implicated in Operation Board Games. There's "Co-Schemer A" -- Illinois Republican boss Big Bill Cellini. He's the Republican asphalt king, casino magnate and recipient of millions of tax dollars to finance his hotel deals and other projects, like multiple partnerships with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's favorite developer, Michael Marchese. And you thought only Chicago Democrats got fat on public money?

Cellini has not been indicted, but he has been implicated in a scheme to shake down an investment banker with Hollywood connections, and now Cellini has retained one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state.

Also mentioned is Cellini's plump handmaiden, also known as "Individual K" in the case's court documents, none other than Big Bob Kjellander (pronounced $hell-ander).

Kjellander, a friend of former White House adviser Karl Rove, remains a Republican National Committee bigshot who is planning the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis in September.

Until recently, Kjellander was the treasurer of the Republican National Committee, even though he'd received $4.5 million in finder's fees for questionable bond deals with the Democratic Blagojevich administration.

One involved an $809,000 fee from an investment bank to Kjellander. According to Rezko court documents, Kjellander funneled $600,000 of that to a Rezko confidant and called it a loan and kept the other $209,000 for himself.

Who needs the Bush stimulus package with $hellander interest rates?

Kjellander told the Tribune he made the loan to the Rezko friend because "I got a very favorable interest rate. That loan was repaid before the due date and I made a very nice profit on the interest. ... I did nothing improper."

How nice. I don't think U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald agrees, but at present, Kjellander and Cellini remain uncharged, with Kjellander's juicy loan having just been cut out of Rezko trial evidence last week and probably being saved for later.
For those of you who trade option contracts:Tony Rezko understood what hedging is all about.