Friday, April 11, 2014



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas Nast (September 27, 1840 – December 7, 1902) was a German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist who was the "Father of the American Cartoon". He was the scourge of Boss Tweed and the Tammany Hall political machine. Among his notable works were the creation of the modern version of Santa Claus and the political symbol of the elephant for the Republican Party. Contrary to popular belief, Nast did not create Uncle Sam (the male personification of the American people), Columbia (the female personification of American values), or the Democratic donkey, though he did popularize these symbols through his art. Nast was associated with the magazine Harper's Weekly from 1859 to 1860 and from 1862 until 1886.

 As a political cartoonist, Thomas Nast wielded more influence than any other artist of the 19th century. He not only enthralled a vast audience with boldness and wit, but swayed it time and again to his personal position on the strength of his visual imagination. Both Lincoln and Grant acknowledged his effectiveness in their behalf, and as a crusading civil reformer he helped destroy the corrupt Tweed Ring that swindled New York City of millions of dollars. Indeed, his impact on American public life was formidable enough to profoundly affect the outcome of every presidential election during the period 1864 to 1884.

This is one of the finest Political Cartoons of all time!  It is a Political Cartoonists, Political cartoon by Thomas Nast!   It really illustrates the subject to a "T"!  
In the late 1800'S many cities were dominated by big city “bosses” who ran political organizations known as “machines.”  The men who ran the political machines --so called because they were organized down to the block level and operated like a machine to turn people out to vote -- provided some services to immigrants in return for their votes. But those services came at the cost of  political and financial corruption.  The most infamous of the Bosses was William Marcy Tweed, the boss of the New York City Democratic organization (machine) known as Tammany Hall. His machine stole approximately $250 million  dollars from New York City.

*  Special thanks to "Google Images", "", "The Los Angeles Times",
"The Washington Post"

by Felicity Blaze Noodleman
Los Angeles, CA

Remember the Washington Bridge scandal in New Jersey a few months ago?  Remember how the national press corps all but crucified Republican Gov. Chris Christie and relished smearing his character as they reported the story watching his twist in their wind of hot air?  We could not really see what the problem was here since it’s not uncommon for problems to develop after the completion of such a big project.  A story like this has the strong odor of political corruption from both Democrats and Republicans all around it and smells to high Heaven! 

As it turns out the smell of corruption leads to the Democrats who were trying to scandalize their Republican Governor.  A newly completed internal report has cleared Governor Christie and his administration from the false charges made against he and his staff which is not so surprising since the claims were so ambiguous and weak in the first place.  The Washington Bridge project was nothing compared to the Boston Tunnel or "The Big Dig" as it was called, which partially collapsed in 2006.  In Massachusetts the blame was placed on the Turnpike Authority chairman Amorillo who stepped down from his position relieving Massachusetts Governor Romney and the State Legislature from a scandal. 

When it comes to political corruption we can think of no better example than the disaster which unfolded in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.  Katrina was a category five hurricane which devastated the City of New Orleans and their Levee system which were built 100 years ago.  Designed to hold back lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi river, New Orleans it self sits below sea level and could not exist with out these levees.  The old and weak levees were destroyed by the force of Katrina's power.  

It was discovered after the hurricane that Louisiana and the city of New Orleans allowed the Levees to fall into disrepair over the years.  Finger pointing began at every level of Government for the disaster with no one willing to except the responsibility.  Democrats in office at the State and Municipal levels demonstrated how political corruption was responsible for a high number of catastrophic deaths due to this natural disaster.  A number of serious questions still are unanswered concerning the maintenance of these levees and the money which should have been spent to keep them effective.

State and local politics often become tarnished as they unfold from coast to coast in our country.  This week we’ve collected some real scandal stories to illustrate just how corrupt Government sometimes becomes.  First in the California Senate which is where our investigation began and follows the FBI probes which have brought down politicians from Senators to Mayors and Assembly people in Government recently from coast to coast. 

"The Los Angeles Times"

State Senate Suspends Three Lawmakers Accused Of Crimes
California State Senate votes to suspend Yee, Calderon, Wright

By Patrick McGreevy
March 28, 2014, 11:36 a.m.

SACRAMENTO -- The state Senate voted Friday to suspend three Democratic lawmakers, all accused of criminal wrongdoing, from office with pay.
The vote comes two days after Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco was charged by federal authorities with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and accepting campaign funds in exchange for political favors.

Also suspended were Sens. Roderick Wright of Inglewood and Ronald Calderon of Montebello, who had both previously taken voluntary leaves of absence to fight separate criminal cases.

President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who in previous weeks had blocked Republican attempts to oust Calderon and Wright, on Friday said the allegations against Yee "changed my point of view." He said all three lawmakers should be treated equally.
Senators who are suspended can return to office only if approved by a Senate vote. 

Yee, 65, had ignored Steinberg's demands to resign. The Senate president had warned after Wednesday’s arrest that if Yee refused to quit he would face a suspension vote. Steinberg said the allegations against Yee were “appalling” and cast a cloud over the Legislature.

“Leave. Please,'' Steinberg said Friday just before the 28-1 vote to suspend the three lawmakers.
Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) voted against the suspensions, saying the three should be expelled. He criticized the Democratic leadership for favoring suspending the three lawmakers with pay --which he called a "Roman holiday" -- instead of removing them from office.
"Senators are not above the law," Anderson said.

Under the state Constitution, a lawmaker can be expelled from the Legislature on a two-thirds vote of his or her house, or suspended by a majority vote.

Though getting his pay, Yee will not be eligible to receive the per diem expense of $163 per day provided to lawmakers who attend the senate session in Sacramento.
Steinberg said none of the suspended lawmakers "can serve another day in this Senate going forward unless they are exonerated."

He called the allegations against Yee "unfathomable" and canceled the April 7 floor session so all Senate offices can review the ethics rules.
"An official suspension puts this house on formal record that we ... distance ourselves" from the behavior of the three senators, he said.

Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) said the Yee affidavit reads like a "bad Hollywood movie.''
"All of us are shocked, dismayed by the allegations," he said.
The state Constitution does not allow the Senate to withhold pay from a suspended lawmaker, so Yee and the others will continue to draw their $95,291 annual salary.

However, Steinberg is expected to introduce a constitutional amendment, to be put before voters, that would allow the withholding of pay when lawmakers are suspended in the future, according to Steinberg's spokesman, Rhys Williams.

Yee has been released on bond but was not present for the Senate vote.
He has been charged by federal authorities with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and scheming to defraud citizens of honest services by accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds in exchange for political favors.

A 137-page FBI affidavit alleges that Yee offered to help an
undercover agent buy automatic weapons and to assist another undercover agent posing as a 
medical marijuana businessman to meet influential legislators who could affect regulation of marijuana.
Calderon took a leave of absence earlier this month after he was indicted for allegedly taking bribes. Wright was found guilty of perjury and voter fraud.

Senate Secretary Greg Schmidt said he could not find any record of a senator being suspended by his colleagues over criminal allegations.,0,4464252.story#axzz2xeHJzsaN

"The Washington Post"

FBI Conducts Raids Targeting Elected Officials In Three States
        March 26 at 2:47 pm

Federal law enforcement officials arrested two public officials in California and North Carolina and raided the office of a New York state senator in connection with separate corruption investigations on Wednesday.

Hundreds of federal agents conducted searches of offices around the San Francisco Bay Area and arrested several people on Tuesday, including state Sen. Leland Yee (D) and a former head of a Hong Kong-based crime syndicate, as part of a major public corruption probe.

Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon (D) was arrested Wednesday and charged with theft and bribery after an FBI sting operation, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. The mayor, first elected in November after serving for two decades on the Charlotte city council, allegedly solicited and accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents.

And in New York, FBI agents raided Assemblyman William Scarborough’s (D) offices and questioned Scarborough at his Albany hotel room. Scarborough told reporters the FBI asked questions about per diem reimbursements he received during his service in the state legislature.

A spokesman for the FBI confirmed the arrests and the charges, but couldn’t comment further.

The arrests come just days after federal agents raided the home and offices of Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox (D), as part of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI, the IRS and Rhode Island state police. Fox resigned his position on Friday and dropped his bid for reelection.

In California, FBI agents arrived to search Yee’s Capitol office in Sacramento at 7 a.m., while hundreds of federal and local law enforcement personnel searched locations around San Francisco and San Mateo, local media reported.

Local media outlets reported that the investigation targeted Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, whom federal officials have accused of being one of the U.S.-based leaders of the Wo Hop To crime syndicate, based in Hong Kong. Investigators raided the Gee King Tong Free Masons offices in Chinatown, which Chow runs.

Chow had been convicted of gun charges in the 1990s, but was released from prison after cooperating with federal officials seeking to investigate another leader of a prominent Chinatown gang.

Yee, the first Chinese American elected to the California state Senate, is among several candidates running for Secretary of State. His campaign spokesman and chief of staff both declined to answer questions from local media outlets.

Yee is also the third California state senator, all Democrats, to be tied to corruption investigations this year. Last month, state Sen. Ron Calderon (D) was indicted on bribery charges, and in January, state Sen. Roderick Wright (D) was convicted on eight counts of voter fraud and perjury, after being indicted in 2010.
Calderon and Wright have taken indefinite leaves of absence from the state Senate, costing Democrats their super majority status and threatening key elements of the party’s platform. State Senate President Darrell Steinberg’s spokesman told the San Jose Mercury News Steinberg wasn’t ready to comment on Yee’s arrest, though Democrats have blocked Republican-led efforts to oust Calderon and Wright in recent weeks.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, of the Western District of North Carolina, said Cannon had been under investigation since 2010, when federal officials received tips that the then-city council member was “involved in illegal activities associated with his position as an elected official.”

A criminal complaint filed Wednesday accuses Cannon of accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents on five occasions, including as recently as last month, when he allegedly accepted $20,000 in cash in the mayor”s office. Cannon allegedly took more than $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and a luxury apartment “in exchange for the use of his official position,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.
Cannon was elected in November to replace Anthony Foxx, who resigned as mayor to become the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

In Albany, Scarborough told reporters FBI agents had implied he would be indicted, apparently over travel vouchers he submitted for reimbursement. Scarborough submitted vouchers worth $825 for a five-night stay in Albany earlier this month,Capital New York reported, when his public schedule showed he attended a town meeting in Jamaica Queens. In a statement, Richard Hartunian, U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of New York, said Scarborough had not been charged, but that an investigation was ongoing.

Two New York state senators, John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, are under federal indictment on corruption charges.

The roads political corruption follow can change from generation to generation and vary at Local, State and Federal levels.  Our opening "Thomas Nast" cartoon of the late 1800's was aimed at the corrupt Republican politicians of the day and their political machines.  Today it would seem that the Democrats have accomplished their own form of corruption in a little different fashion!  Democrats like to boast of their "Grass Roots" support but this is more like corruption from the Grass Roots passed up the line to the Party Bosses at the National Level of the Democratic Party. 

 The above chart illustrates the "Money Trail" as it works it's way into and through a political party.  As the sources of revenue multiply from a number of organizations this process begins to resemble a "money laundering" scheme.  Government contractors pay their kickback to politicians through an independent political action group to cover their trail.  These schemes become very elaborate and complicated to hide the "Money Trail".
This chart was obtained from:

From every pocket near and far to Government Projects; from your local traffic cop issuing citations to Federally funded projects the Democrats take their kick back Thur an elaborate scheme to hide the money trail.  It is at this point we would like to consult "wikipedia" for some basic definitions of the process.  We would like to stress that new schemes are coming along all the time and the game changes as the years go by.

Political corruption is the use of powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties, is done under color of law or involves trading in influence.

Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. Corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking, though is not restricted to these activities. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by private persons or corporations not directly involved with the government.



A bribe is a payment given personally to a government official in exchange of his use of official powers. Bribery requires two participants: one to give the bribe, and one to take it. Either may initiate the corrupt offering; for example, a customs official may demand bribes to let through allowed (or disallowed) goods, or a smuggler might offer bribes to gain passage. In some countries the culture of corruption extends to every aspect of public life, making it extremely difficult for individuals to stay in business without resorting to bribes. Bribes may be demanded in order for an official to do something he is already paid to do. They may also be demanded in order to bypass laws and regulations. In addition to using bribery for private financial gain, they are also used to intentionally and maliciously cause harm to another (i.e. no financial incentive). In some developing nations, up to half of the population has paid bribes during the past 12 months.

In recent years, efforts have been made by the international community to encourage countries to dissociate and incriminate as separate offences, active and passive bribery. Active bribery can be defined for instance as the promising, offering or giving by any person, directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage [to any public official], for himself or herself or for anyone else, for him or her to act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her functions. (article 2 of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) of the Council of Europe). Passive bribery can be defined as the request or receipt [by any public official], directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage, for himself or herself or for anyone else, or the acceptance of an offer or a promise of such an advantage, to act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her functions (article 3 of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173)). The reason for this dissociation is to make the early steps (offering, promising, requesting an advantage) of a corrupt deal already an offence and, thus, to give a clear signal (from a criminal policy point of view) that bribery is not acceptable. Furthermore, such a dissociation makes the prosecution of bribery offences easier since it can be very difficult to prove that two parties (the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker) have formally agreed upon a corrupt deal. In addition, there is often no such formal deal but only a mutual understanding, for instance when it is common knowledge in a municipality that to obtain a building permit one has to pay a "fee" to the decision maker to obtain a favorable decision. A working definition of corruption is also provided as follows in article 3 of the Civil Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 174): For the purpose of this Convention, "corruption" means requesting, offering, giving or accepting, directly or indirectly, a bribe or any other undue advantage or prospect thereof, which distorts the proper performance of any duty or behavior required of the recipient of the bribe, the undue advantage or the prospect thereof.

Trading in influence
Trading in influence, or influence peddling, refers a person selling his/her influence over the decision making process to benefit a third party (person or institution). The difference with bribery is that this is a tri-lateral relation. From a legal point of view, the role of the third party (who is the target of the influence) does not really matter although he/she can be an accessory in some instances. It can be difficult to make a distinction between this form of corruption and some forms of extreme and loosely regulated lobbying where for instance law- or decision-makers can freely "sell" their vote, decision power or influence to those lobbyists who offer the highest compensation, including where for instance the latter act on behalf of powerful clients such as industrial groups who want to avoid the passing of specific environmental, social, or other regulations perceived as too stringent, etc. Where lobbying is (sufficiently) regulated, it becomes possible to provide for a distinctive criteria and to consider that trading in influence involves the use of "improper influence", as in article 12 of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) of the Council of Europe.

Patronage refers to favoring supporters, for example with government employment. This may be legitimate, as when a newly elected government changes the top officials in the administration in order to effectively implement its policy. It can be seen as corruption if this means that incompetent persons, as a payment for supporting the regime, are selected before more able ones. In nondemocracies many government officials are often selected for loyalty rather than ability. They may be almost exclusively selected from a particular group (for example, Sunni Arabs in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the nomenklatura in the Soviet Union, or the Junkers in Imperial Germany) that support the regime in return for such favors. A similar problem can also be seen in Eastern Europe, for example in Romania, where the government is often accused of patronage (when a new government comes to power it rapidly changes most of the officials in the public sector).

Nepotism and cronyism
Favoring relatives (nepotism) or personal friends (cronyism) of an official is a form of illegitimate private gain. This may be combined with bribery, for example demanding that a business should employ a relative of an official controlling regulations affecting the business. The most extreme example is when the entire state is inherited, as in North Korea or Syria. A lesser form might be in the Southern United States with Good ol' boys, where women and minorities are excluded. A milder form of cronyism is an "old boy network", in which appointees to official positions are selected only from a closed and exclusive social network – such as the alumni of particular universities – instead of appointing the most competent candidate.
Seeking to harm enemies becomes corruption when official powers are illegitimately used as means to this end. For example, trumped-up charges are often brought up against journalists or writers who bring up politically sensitive issues, such as a politician's acceptance of bribes.

Electoral fraud
Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. Also called voter fraud, the mechanisms involved include illegal voter registration, intimidation at polls, and improper vote counting.

Embezzlement is theft of entrusted funds. It is political when it involves public money taken by a public official for use by anyone not specified by the public. A common type of embezzlement is that of personal use of entrusted government resources; for example, when an official assigns public employees to renovate his own house.

See also: Anti-competitive practices, Bid rigging, Fraud, and Charbonneau Commission
A kickback is an official's share of misappropriated funds allocated from his or her organization to an organization involved in corrupt bidding. For example, suppose that a politician is in charge of choosing how to spend some public funds. He can give a contract to a company that is not the best bidder, or allocate more than they deserve. In this case, the company benefits, and in exchange for betraying the public, the official receives a kickback payment, which is a portion of the sum the company received. This sum itself may be all or a portion of the difference between the actual (inflated) payment to the company and the (lower) market-based price that would have been paid had the bidding been competitive.
Another example of a kickback would be if a judge receives a portion of the profits that a business makes in exchange for his judicial decisions.
Kickbacks are not limited to government officials; any situation in which people are entrusted to spend funds that do not belong to them are susceptible to this kind of corruption.

Unholy alliance
An unholy alliance is a coalition among seemingly antagonistic groups for ad hoc or hidden gain, generally some influential non-governmental group forming ties with political parties, supplying funding in exchange for the favorable treatment. Like patronage, unholy alliances are not necessarily illegal, but unlike patronage, by its deceptive nature and often great financial resources, an unholy alliance can be much more dangerous to the public interest. An early use of the term was by former US President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt:
"To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." – 1912 Progressive Party Platform, attributed to Roosevelt and quoted again in his autobiography, where he connects trusts and monopolies (sugar interests, Standard Oil, etc.) to Woodrow Wilson, Howard Taft, and consequently both major political parties.

Involvement in organized crime
An illustrative example of official involvement in organized crime can be found from 1920s and 1930s Shanghai, where Huang Jinrong was a police chief in the French concession, while simultaneously being a gang boss and co-operating with Du Yuesheng, the local gang ringleader. The relationship kept the flow of profits from the gang's gambling dens, prostitution, and protection rackets undisturbed.
The United States accused Manuel Noriega's government in Panama of being a "narcokleptocracy", a corrupt government profiting on illegal drug trade. Later the U.S. invaded Panama and captured Noriega.


Corruption happens at all levels of Government but because State and Local Government is not in the bright spotlight as Washington DC is, little attention is focused on Government corruption at these levels.  Another California scandal article on corruption we would like to post involves the recent corruption scandal which took place in the City of Bell, CA here in Los Angeles county.   This scandal was exposed in 2010.  We have a summary  and background information for this case from "" and a follow up time line of the Court case.  This story is so big  in scope and includes charges against eight Bell City officials, six of which were prosecuted.  We are only able to summarize this unbelievable story.

2010 City Official Corruption Scandal

Main article: City of Bell scandal

In July 2010, when two Los Angeles Times reporters, Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives, were investigating possible malfeasance in the neighboring city of Maywood, it was revealed that Bell city officials were receiving unusually large salaries, perhaps the highest in the United States. The salaries came into the public eye after the newspaper's investigation, based on California Public Records Act requests, showed that the city payroll was swollen with six- to seven-figure salaries.  Robert Rizzo, the City manager, received $787,637 a year, almost double the salary of the President of the United States. Including benefits, he had received $1.5 million in the last year.  Rizzo's assistant, Angela Spaccia, was earning $376,288 a year, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.  The police chief, Randy Adams, was paid $457,000, 33% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.  All three resigned following news reports and public outcry. All but one of the members of the city council were receiving $100,000 for their part-time work, salaries which were authorized by a sparsely attended special election, giving the city "Charter" status. By comparison, council members in cities similar to Bell in size make an average of $4,800 a year, prosecutors have noted.

In September 2010, the California Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against eight former and current City of Bell employees, requesting the return of what the suit calls "excessive salaries" as well a reduction in pension benefits accrued as a result of those higher salaries.  Allegations about irregularities in the 2009 election also were examined by the FBI and California Secretary of State office.  The city's high property taxes are also being investigated.

On September 21, 2010, former city manager Robert Rizzo, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia and council members George Mirabal, Teresa Jacobo, Luis Artiga, George Cole and Victor Bello were arrested and charged with misappropriation of public funds.  The mayor and council members have all resigned or been recalled.

The revelations about the salary amounts paid to city officials in Bell led media inquires into salaries paid in other cities. After a review, the L.A. Times found frequent failures in audits of public agencies in other municipalities in California.


Timeline: Bell Corruption Scandal

After a Los Angeles Times report on huge salaries for council 

officials in the small city, investigations were conducted and 

criminal charges were filed

By Andrew Lopez
|  Monday, Dec 2, 2013  |  Updated 12:54 PM PDT

Jurors reached a verdict on March 20, 2013, after weeks of deliberation in the infamous "Bell 6" corruption trial.
A look at the key events of the Bell corruption scandal, which sparked outrage when it was revealed that city officials from the small city were pocketing sky-high salaries.
July 15, 2010: The Los Angeles Times publishes an article titled “Is a city manager worth $800,000?” In it, they detail the high salaries for several Bell city officials, including a nearly $800,000 salary for city manager Robert Rizzo. The story draws widespread outrage.
Sep. 21, 2010: Eight Bell city officials are arrested as part of the investigation into the city’s salary scandal.
Feb. 7, 2011: A judge offers plea deals to several former Bell city council members, the Los Angeles Times reports. Lawyers for six of the defendants said their clients rejected the offers.
April 7, 2011: Five newly elected City Council members are sworn in after some former members are charged in connection with the salary scandal.
Jan. 25, 2013: Trial begins in the case of six former city of Bell officials, including the ex-mayor and five other council members.
March 20, 2013: Five former Bell City Council members accused of padding their paychecks are found guilty on half of the counts they each faced. Former Councilman Luis Artiga is the only defendant to go free after he was found not guilty on all 12 counts he faced.
  • Ex-mayor Oscar Hernandez: guilty on five counts; not guilty on five counts. No verdict on 10 counts.
  • Former Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo: guilty on five counts; not guilty on five counts. No verdict on 10 counts.
  • Former Councilman George Mirabal: guilty on five counts; not guilty on five counts. No verdict on 10 counts.
  • Former Councilman Victor Bello: guilty on four counts; not guilty on four counts. No verdict on eight counts.
  • Former Councilman George Cole: guilty of two counts; not guilty on two counts. No verdict on four counts.
Oct. 3, 2013: Former city manager Robert Rizzo, who is at the center of a city government corruption scandal, pleads no contest to 69 counts. His sentence could range between 10-12 years.
Oct. 23, 2013: The trial of Angela Spaccia, the former assistant city manager of Bell, begins. She is accused of 13 felony corruption charges.
"NBC News"

In conclusion; since many Washington DC politicians have experience in other elected Government positions before bursting onto the national scene.  President Barack Obama is no exception; in fact he might be the prototype for politicians with corrupt backgrounds.  In Obamas case these ties with corruption have even followed him into the White House.  We are posting an article from the "Washington Post" which appeared in 2008.  The President has close ties with some corrupt co hearts and seems to keep them far enough away from himself so as not to become directly involved him self.  We can say this for sure:  we have never seen any President come with so much questionable baggage in Washington DC as Barack Obama!

"The Washington Post"

Former Obama Fundraiser Convicted of 
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 5, 2008

CHICAGO, June 5 -- Antoin Rezko, a Chicago businessman and longtime fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), was convicted of 16 felony corruption charges Wednesday in a case that alleged influence peddling in the upper reaches of the administration of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

After two months of vivid testimony about political profiteering in Illinois state government, the 12-member jury found Rezko guilty of using his clout as a Blagojevich insider to shake down companies hoping to do business with the state. The 16 counts included fraud, money laundering and abetting bribery. Rezko was acquitted of eight counts, including extortion.

Rezko surrendered to federal authorities as soon as the verdicts were read. He explained through his attorney that he wants to begin serving his sentence immediately.

The successful prosecution adds to the pressure on Blagojevich, who rode into office in 2002 with a promise to end corruption in Springfield, the state capital. His Republican predecessor, George Ryan, was convicted of corruption in the same Chicago courthouse in 2006.

"It's another chapter in the sad history of Illinois government," Jay E. Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association, told reporters. "I don't think this is the 'No more business as usual' we were promised when Rod Blagojevich became governor back in 2002. He can't blame this on George Ryan."

Blagojevich, now in his second term, has steadfastly denied wrongdoing. For Obama, who was unconnected to the criminal case but once counted Rezko as a friend and loyal contributor, the verdict makes it certain that critics will continue to question their relationship. Indeed, within 20 minutes of the jury's announcement, the Republican National Committee sent reporters an e-mail under the heading "Rezko: Obama's Longtime Friend and Money Man."

GOP Chairman Robert M. Duncan soon followed with a contention that the verdict creates doubts about Obama's judgment, and Duncan's staff posted a video designed to highlight Obama's connections to Rezko and to raise doubts about the explanations of the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

Obama has said whenever asked -- and he has been asked repeatedly -- that his relationship to Rezko, who had a history of befriending up-and-coming Illinois politicians, never strayed into official business. Obama said Rezko asked no favors and that he did him none.

Rezko has not raised money for Obama since 2004, and the Obama campaign gave to charity the donations linked to Rezko.

"I'm saddened by today's verdict," Obama said in a statement Wednesday. "This isn't the Tony Rezko I knew, but now he has been convicted by a jury on multiple charges that once again shine a spotlight on the need for reform."

The prosecution of Rezko was an intricate web of testimony about money-minded contributors and advisers headlined by a Republican political fixer named Stuart Levine, an admitted con man who made and spent millions, including significant sums on day-long drug binges.

Levine told the jury that he bribed his way to government contracts for his clients and associates. He said he used his connections to win appointments to state regulatory boards, including the panels that made decisions about the state's $30 billion teacher pension fund and another that oversaw lucrative hospital expansions.
Rezko, Levine testified, helped him preserve his clout and his schemes to keep the illicit money flowing after Blagojevich entered office. An FBI agent testified that Rezko raised $1.4 million for the new governor's campaign.

"I have never been in a better position than I am right now," Levine boasted in a conversation secretly taped by the FBI. He said of Rezko, "This guy is making decisions . . . and can get anything done that he wants done."
Staff writer Kari Lydersen contributed to this report.

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