Some random thoughts about Tony Rezko's guilty verdict in his federal corruption trial...
¥ After Rezko was convicted on 16 of 24 counts, both Gov. Rod Blagojevich and US Sen. Barack Obama expressed sadness at the verdict and gingerly danced away from their former friend and fundraiser. Some in the media criticized the two men for not being tougher on the guy.
There are plenty of reasons why those post-conviction statements weren't more judgmental or harsh. The first that came to my mind was that Rezko is theoretically facing 300 years in prison. A guy caught up in such a predicament might say anything, true or false, to avoid spending the rest of his natural life behind bars. It's probably best not to rile him too much. He may know something about one or both men, or he may just make something up. Either way, discretion is the better part of valor in situations like that.
¥ Is Gov. Blagojevich next on the federal' "hit list"? Plenty of reports since the Rezko verdict have quoted US Attorney insiders as saying the multiple criminal investigations against Blagojevich and his campaign are going "full speed ahead."
"Speed" and "US Attorney" are usually not things you see in the same sentence. They like to take their sweet time, so don't get too impatient. The feds will put another Blagojevich fundraiser, Chris Kelly, on trial later this year. Actually, Kelly is not just a fundraiser. He's a close Blagojevich friend. Plus, there's still another trial pending against Rezko. So, like I said, be patient. It'll happen when it happens.
¥ Why did Rezko immediately surrender himself to authorities when his official sentencing date isn't until September? He's been out on bond for a few weeks, after the judge sent him to a holding facility for received some money from overseas without informing her. He whined and whined when he was in jail, complaining about having to share underwear with his fellow inmates. So, why did he volunteer to go back?
Several reasons have been offered, including that he fears for his life, or he's ready to flip on Gov. Blagojevich or that he is showing the feds he is a tough guy who won't flip on anyone else. I don't think the answer is any of these.
It's probably easier to do harm to him in prison than anywhere else. Bad guys abound in prison, and it's pretty tough to hide from them unless he was put in solitary confinement. If he was making a statement about whether he was about to flip or not, he'd probably say something, rather than just silently surrender.
A commenter at my blog had probably the simplest explanation. Rezko's friends and family put up millions in cash and property to spring him from that jailhouse. Going back to prison meant the judge's "hold" was taken off all the money and property. It was most likely just a decent thing to do by a guy who has done some very indecent things.
¥ Will Rezko flip on Blagojevich?
Call me a rat if you want, but if I was Tony Rezko and was facing all that prison time, I'd flip like Nadia Comaneci on steroids. I'd flip so much that I could open up my own I-Hop franchise. I'd be another Flip Wilson. "They call him Flipper, Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning," would be my new theme song. I'd... well, you get the idea.
I can't read Rezko's mind, but I do believe that if he has something to say, he will.
¥ Do Illinoisans really care about Tony Rezko?
Shortly after it was announced that a verdict was on its way, the websites of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times were so overwhelmed with visitors that they both crashed. I don't think that's ever happened before. So, yes, people are very interested.
¥ What was the most overlooked part of the Rezko verdict?
The media has been covering one aspect of the trial for months: Rezko and others were accused of conspiring to squeeze an investor out of a $1.5 million campaign contribution for Blagojevich. Rezko's defense lawyers claimed there never was any such plan. It was all a fantasy concocted by "star" prosecution witness Stu Levine, they said. The jury declared Rezko "not guilty" on those counts, apparently believing the defense contention that no such conspiracy ever existed.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com.