This is my first installment of research for our diarist clammyc. I had emailed this wonderful diarist when he posted asking for volunteers to lend research to his "hopefully" ongoing .series "It's time to stop Defending Obama" and go on the offensive against McCain. Since I do research for my local Democratic Club and some local candidates, I have found in my freetime I love to research the Republicans. I have really had my eyes opened. Call me naive, but I had no idea of the extent of the corruption and dishonesty that permeates the Republican Party and has for years. I knew I never liked their ideas but researching them on a broader field than just local politics has shown this proud Democrat that while there indeed are some not so savory characters in the Democratic party (which seems to be a disease that afflicts all politicans,) but what I am finding as I follow the tangled web of connections, is that they all tend to lead directly to George Bush, Karl Rove, the RNC and yes, the candidate himself, John McCain.
I ask that clammyc use this diary as one of his installments so please feel free sammyc to post this in your diary as a continuation of your efforts.
The Republican National Committee and its chairman, Mike Duncan, gleefully launched an attack on Sen. Barack Obama over the his past ties to Tony Rezko, recently convicted of fraud. But Duncan and the RNC should be careful. After all, they've got Bob Kjellander on the payroll.
"On the day Barack Obama hoped to unite his party after wheezing over the finish line and claiming the Democrat nomination, a jury in his hometown of Chicago convicted his longtime friend and fundraiser Tony Rezko of multiple felonies," Duncan said. "This is further proof that Obama's high-flying rhetoric is just that and in no way represents the kind of change our nation demands."
If anyone's rhetoric is high-flying, it's Duncan's. As he works to prepare the Republicans and St. Paul for his party's September convention, Duncan is working side by side with RNC vice chairman Kjellander,a committee member from Illinois who's cozy dealings with Rezko have been scrutinized.
Rezko's conviction centers around defrauding businesses working with the Illinois Teachers Retirement System Board and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. Kjellander represented the much-criticized Carlyle Group in a deal to secure that group the ITRSB pension fund. That deal netted Kjellander $4.5 million from the Carlyle Group, a payment that raised eyebrows in Illinois, resulting in both an investigation and legislation targeting the type of deal Kjellander made.
In the Rezko trial, Kjellander was named as having "received $809,000 in consulting fees for the 2003 sale of state bonds, much of which prosecutors believe was funneled through a Rezko associate to Rezko assignees." And those assignees seem to have given the funds back to Rezko. Prosecutors say he then gave $600,000 to Rezko associate Joseph Aramanda, who in turn handed $450,000 of it to four people, many of whom reportedly gave much of the money back to Rezko.
Duncan, who works closely with Kjellander, surely knows much of the controversy surrounding Kjellander. They partnered to plan the convention in New York in 2004, and Duncan worked as the RNC's general counsel while Kjellander was the committee's treasurer. And while anyone even remotely attached to the name Rezko carries a whiff of corruption's stench, Kjellander was so closely involved with Rezko that Kjellander invited him to a White House party in 2003 at the urging of longtime friend Karl Rove. As Duncan no doubt knows, his colleague is much more intimate with Rezko than Obama ever was.
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass made the hypocrisy crystal clear. "Even as the Republican National Committee uses Rezko to thwack Obama, the RNC has a Rezko problem of its own," he wrote. "And they forgot to mention it. It's a big Rezko problem. A big fat one known as Big Bob Kjellander." And he's in charge of managing and planning John McCain's big party in St. Paul.
Enter Ali Ata: Pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about how he got his job as executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority. During his appearance in court where he pled guilty Ata said Mr. Rezko had offered two big names who could help remove Patrick Fitzgerald as prosecuter, Robert Kjellander, an Illinois Republican Party leader, and Karl Rove, the former White House political aide.
Let's examine this shall we? Robert Kjellander and Ton Rezko were long time friends. Robert Kjellander was one of Bush's "Pioneers" raising millions for the Bush campaign. Stuart Levine, a close business partner of Rezko's who pled guilty to money laundering and mail fraud was the government's prize witness against Rezko. ,Levine answering questions from the stand, told jurors that he and Rezko had attended the White House function with their wives. He said their invitations had been arranged by Robert Kjellander, a Midwestern GOP power broker who at the time was engineering Bush's re-election efforts in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Just a few weeks before the party, Kjellander had made some unwanted headlines for himself by nabbing an $800,000 payment from now-defunct New York investment bank Bear Stearns shortly after the firm won a multi-billion-dollar bond issuance from the state of Illinois. The massive fee struck many as unseemly and prompted criticism from many quarters, including from fellow state Republicans.
Continuing.... In total Robert Kjellander had up to the date of the Rezko trial received 3.1 million from the Carlyle Group with another 1.4 million owed for his work in brokering the Illinois Teacher Pension Plan investiment. When Illinois teacher's protested, an investigation was launched by the FederalGovernment.
Interesting sidenote which I will address in the next installment for sammyc is the fact that Bush's father, George Sr. is on the Board of Directors of the Carlyle Group. It is not such a leap to make that The Carlyle Group in providing such a "generous" compensation for Kjellander who raised millions for both George Sr. and George W.'s campaigns. Favors for favors in the Republican world. And though Kjellander is suspected of illegalities with "Tony" Rezko, and the Federal Goverment is probing his very generous payment by the Carlyle Group to the tune of 4.5 million dollars, Duncan and Kjellander have been chosen to organize the RNC Convention. What's a little favor among such good friends, Rezko, Rove, Bush, McCain.
You may say McCain's tie is tenuous at best, however, Consider, for example, that convicted New Hampshire phonejammer Chuck McGee is now out of prison and holding a "GOP Campaign School" for Republican activists in New Hampshire. In Illinois, Republican gubernatorial nominee Judy Barr Topinka is not heeding the entreaties of some of her former primary opponents to disown the publicly-tainted Robert Kjellander (and the money he brings to her campaign) in order to win their endorsement.
But perhaps the most hypocritical example is that Sen. John McCain will sacrifice his "so-called ethics" in order to tap into an effective fundraiser’s network. In the 2000 presidential primary, McCain was the target of attack ads by a secretive group called Republicans for Clean Air. The group was basically a front for Texas millionaire brothers and Bush supporters Sam and Charles Wyly, the latter a 2000 Pioneer who pumped more than $2.5 million into the group. McCain was incensed, calling them "Wyly coyotes" and Bush’s "sleazy Texas buddies" who "ought to be ashamed." "Tell them to keep their dirty money in the state of Texas," he said. He accused Bush of coordinating with the Wylys and demanded a Federal Elections Commission investigation into the ads.
This May, however, McCain apparently forgave and forgot his strong words when he accepted $20,000 in contributions from the brothers to his Straight Talk America fund, which McCain will likely use to finance his nascent presidential campaign. McCain even invited the brothers to co-host a Dallas fundraiser for him.
The Wyly brothers indeed are yet another tangled web, which due to the length of this diary shall remain for yet another day along with The Carlyle Group who have donated generously to McCain through it's officers and George Sr. (Remember the $5,000 per head golf game? diaried yesterday?)
Given that Karl Rove, friendly with both Robert Kjellander and Tony Rezko is also a "behind the scenes" advisor to John Mcain, and the fact Rove ensured that despite Kjellander's unsavory dealings, that McCain appoint him to lead the organization of the RNC convention, it is not a leap to believe how closely tied McCain is to the entire Republican machine of old.
Yes, much was made of Senator Obama's "real estate affiliation" with Rezko, however that pales in significance to the "ties that bind" with Rezko and the Republicans. Yet, their attack on Obama was played for all it's worth in the media and nary a mention of the RNC/Bush/Rove/McCain ties to the very same story.
UPDATE: I thought it worthy to note that Rezko did not only make campaign contributions to Democrats, including Obama (he donated the funds in their entirety) he also donated to Republicans, which of course no demand has been made that THEY refund the donations. Here is an example:
Rep. Mark Kirk (IL) $1,000
Rick Lazio (NY) $1,000
Tom Campbell (CA) $1,000 (lost)
Sen. Spencer Abraham (MI) $815
George Bush (primary) $1,000
Rep. Ray Lahood (IL) $1,000
Leslie Ann Touma (MI) $1,000 (lost 98)
Senator Spencer Abraham (MI) $1,000
RNC (primary)'96 $250
Rep. Ray Lahood (IL) 1,000
(Interesting to note the records show only Rep. Ray Lahood returned a donation from Rezko this year of $1,000 but did not return the previous donation nor did any other Republican. (Source: Newsmeat) While Newsmeat shows more donations to Democrats, it is still hypocritical of the Republicans to make a case about the Donations made to Obama when they themselves also received monies from Rezko to the tune of $11,065. Obama received a total of $12,000 which he donated I believe to charity. This was about equal to what Rezko donated to Republicans including Bush.