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Fitzgerald Subpoenaed Blagojevich for Dirt on Obama Contacts, leaving out Blagojevich donors

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Message Margie Burns
Fitzgerald Subpoenaed Blagojevich for Dirt on Obama Contacts, leaving out Blagojevich donors

  --A newly released internal Blagojevich campaign document shows that the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago bypassed actual donors to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in Dec. 8, 2008, subpoenas of Blagojevich records, choosing instead to demand records on incoming Obama White House personnel.

One day before FBI agents were sent to arrest Blagojevich at his home, U. S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s office subpoenaed Blagojevich for “any and all documents, including notes, calendars, lists, correspondence, communications, logs, records, or other data, relating in any way to any of the following individuals and/or entities,” naming 32 individuals and groups, beginning with Blagojevich family members and campaign insiders.

No actual donors on the list compiled by Blagojevich, however, are named in the Dec. 8 subpoenas. Prosecutors for the Northern District of Illinois (NIL) did not demand records on anyone who had held a fundraising event for Blagojevich, including individuals raising up to $60,000 in 2008. Records were not subpoenaed on donors who had apparently refused to donate further, or on donors to whom Blagojevich’s people planned to return for more.

The Dec. 8 subpoenas did demand records on two of Obama’s most prominent campaign advisors, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, generating predictable headlines for the rightwing blogosphere--shortly after the inauguration--about ‘senior Obama aides investigated by the feds.’ Jarrett and Axelrod are not mentioned in the Blagojevich list of actual or potential donors.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, an early version of the internal donor list was the basis on which federal prosecutors obtained authorization to wiretap, yielding the excerpted tapes used in arresting Blagojevich. While names of people whose conversations have been wiretapped have not been released, the wiretaps were extended—according to the charging document used in the Blagojevich arrest—in follow-ups. Hypothetically anyone who received a call from Blagojevich’s campaign office or home in fall 2008 could be an object of federal surveillance.

Posted Saturday on the Sun-Times web site, Blagojevich’s comprehensive list (linked again) conveniently de-mystifies Blagojevich fundraising, showing exactly what money the Blagojevich team dreamed of raising in 2008. Eye-friendly columns, neatly typed, show amounts donated in 2008, the Blago “LOW GOAL” for future donations from each listee, and the “HIGH GOAL,” sometimes up to $100,000.

Like the subpoenas, the list contains as much smoke as fire. Quick facts:

    * The list shows a total of $624,905 raised by the Blagojevich team in 2008.
    * The list contains 139 names including cryptic nomenclature like “Serbian” and “Trial lawyers”.        
    * Of the 139 names listed, 34 actually donated in 2008.
    * The list indicates that Blagojevich planned to go back to 12 actual donors for more contributions.
    * No potential U.S. Senate pick donated to Blagojevich.
    * The list is dated “Draft as of 12:42 PM 12/3/2008.” Some typed notes indicate that it was  initiated by September 2008: “Lon meets on Monday, 9/8".
     * The list indicates that Blagojevich’s people raised slightly over one-fourth of their hoped-for ‘high goal.’
    * The low goal was $1,747,400. The high goal was $2,232,400.
    * About 30 lines are left blank, with no actual or estimated donation.
    * About 50 of the lines indicate actual or projected fundraising “events,” mostly for fall and winter 2008, some earlier.

Setting aside Blagojevich’s dreams of millions, here is a review of the ten largest actual donations:

    * The largest contribution was $60,000 from Ivan Dvorak of Teng Associates, raised in a fundraiser at Teng’s Chicago offices on Nov. 12, as previously reported by the Sun-Times. Teng is an engineering firm.

    * $53,500 from state senator Jim DeLeo, raised in an Oct. 30 fundraiser in Oak Brook. According to the Sun-Times, DeLeo was indicted in the ‘Greylord’ judges scandal but pleaded to misdemeanor after the jury hung in his trial.

    * $50,000 from Scott Jhin, head of a beauty supply company called Dream World or Jinny Corp.
    * $46,500 from J. D. Stokes, raised in an August event. Stokes, now with Burns & McDonnell, is a former transportation planner.
    * $42,000 from Bill Bonan, a banker on the Southern Illinois University board of trustees, raised in a Nov. 19 event.
    * $35,000 from “Trial lawyers,” raised October 2008.
    * $25,750 from Nathanial Feroz, vice president of an engineering firm. Raised at an Oct. 16 fundraiser, as reported by Sun-Times.
    * $25,000 from Dr. Gilani/Virani Barket, raised in a fundraiser Nov. 26.
    * $25,000 from state representative Jay Hoffman, an attorney, raised in an event Sept. 9.
    * $25,000 from Monsoor Lakhani, owner of Lakhani Hospitality, raised in an Aug. 18 fundraiser.

Cross-referencing the new subpoena (linked again) with the Blagojevich list yields few overlaps. As written previously, after investigating Blagojevich since 2002, Fitzgerald’s office subpoenaed Blagojevich on Dec. 8, 2008, the day before the comic-opera arrest, demanding Blagojevich’s records on Blagojevich’s wife, his brother, two campaign committees and other insiders (along with the two Obama advisors). Not reported at the time or mentioned at the press conference, the subpoenas were among 44 subpoenas issued to Blagojevich over the years, subsequently disclosed by the Sun-Times through a FOIA request. Two other subpoenas were issued after the arrest; Fitzgerald’s office has declined to answer questions about why these subpoenas came so late in the investigations of Blagojevich.

Mentioned on both lists are:

    * John Wyma, a former Blagojevich adviser and lobbyist—and reportedly the source who turned over Blagojevich’s donor list to investigators. Blago’s team had him down for a potential $5K. Dream on.
    * Milan Petrovic, a lobbyist and campaign fundraiser—mentioned hopefully for $25K to $50K on Blagojevich’s list, no actual donations.
    * Paul Rosenfeld, lobbyist—mentioned in connection with a November event, nothing collected.
    * J.B. Pritzker, Chicago political donor theoretically a potential Senate pick—down for $100K in Blago’s dreams, zero collected.
    * Gery Chico, former Chicago school board president, U.S. Senate candidate, Blagojevich opponent--$50K to $75K in dreams, zero in waking life.
    * Service Employees International Union and its IL president, Tom Balanoff--$75K dreamed of by Blagojevich team, zero collected.
    * Mike Vondra, construction company owner—nothing down, but “Wyma will ask”—while Wyma (above) was cooperating with the investigation, unbeknownst to Blagojevich.

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Margie Burns Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Freelance journalist in metro DC area.
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