Antoin "Tony" Rezko

Rezko Conviction Has Political Fallout

June 05, 2008 06:25 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Wednesday, a federal court convicted Chicago real estate developer Antoin “Tony” Rezko on various counts of corruption; Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich's involvement remains in question.

30-Second Summary

Rezko was convicted yesterday on 16 of 24 counts of corruption and will be sentenced in September. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who received substantial funding and counsel from Rezko, could be greatly affected by the decision as the investigation shifts toward his involvement.

Rezko, a Syrian immigrant, restaurateur and real estate trader, has faced federal charges since October 2006 for demanding kickbacks from businesses looking to procure Illinois government contracts.

After Blagojevich, a Democratic congressman from Chicago’s North Side, was elected governor in 2002, Rezko—a major Blagojevich donor and fundraiser—allegedly convinced the politician to build Rezko’s business associates into the state’s first Democratic administration since 1977.

Blagojevich is trying desperately to distance himself from Rezko as many have called for his impeachment.

Chicago Magazine cites a report stating that Rezko and his contacts “have contributed more than $675,000 to 15 prominent Illinois politicians since 1989. That sum includes $117,652 for Blagojevich.”

It also likely includes the $250,000 Rezko raised for Obama’s first three electoral races, including his landslide 2004 Senate victory. Barack and Michelle Obama’s connections to the businessman made national headlines after Rezko was tied to what Chicago Magazine called “a funky real-estate transaction involving the Obamas’ Hyde Park home” in which Rezko’s wife allegedly gave the couple a discount. Obama has denied receiving a discount.

Rezko has sponsored Republicans as well, including current federal inmate and former Ill. Gov. George Ryan. In 2003 Rezko organized a benefit that raised millions for President George W. Bush.

Blagojevich is the fourth sitting governor to be embroiled in scandal since 2004, following his colleagues in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.

Headline Link: Court convicts Rezko

Background: Rezko and the Chicago political machine

Video: ‘Obama’s Rezko Narrative’

Historical Context: Other embattled governors in recent history

Key Players: Tony Rezko, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Sen. Barack Obama

Tony Rezko (1955–)
Gov. Rod Blagojevich (1956–)
Sen. Barack Obama (1961–)

Reference: FindingDulcinea’s 2008 Election Web Guide, Rezko donation chart


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