It seems like Obama's Attorney General nominee Eric Holder once had a job working for Illinois Governor Blagojevich as an investigator. And what was he investigating? The mobbed-up Rosemont, Illinois casino deal.
CHICAGO--Before Eric Holder was President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be attorney general, he was Gov. Blagojevich's pick to sort out a mess involving Illinois' long-dormant casino license.Press interviews? I guess he could have a memory lapse on some of those. But this is not about a presser. It is about a fookin job. Doesn't the guy have a resume?
Blagojevich and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder's role as "special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board" -- a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington, D.C. law firm up to $300,000.
Holder, however, omitted that event from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week -- an oversight he plans to correct after a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry, Obama's transition team indicated late Tuesday.
"Eric Holder has given hundreds of press interviews," Obama transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement. "He did his best to report them all to the committee, but as he noted in the questionnaire itself, some were undoubtedly missed in the effort to reconstruct a list of them."
Holder signed the questionnaire on Sunday -- five days after Blagojevich's arrest for allegedly putting Obama's U.S. Senate seat up for sale. The Judiciary Committee asked him to provide lists and "copies of transcripts or tape recordings of all speeches or talks delivered by you" and "all interviews you have given to newspapers, magazines or other publications."And of course the Most Corrupt President Elect Ever™ knew nothing about this little event. He was just a State Senator running for the US Senate at the time. No doubt he was busy. Not even present. Fortunately for all concerned Holder knew nothing. Ignorance is bliss and much safer besides. And Rezko? Man that guy had his fingers in every pie it seems. And yet today he claims he is broke. Penniless. Without a dime. Except the one's he is dropping.
The March 2004 Chicago news conference where Holder and Blagojevich spoke was widely covered because of a controversial 4-1 Gaming Board vote earlier that month to allow a casino to be built in Rosemont. That vote defied the recommendation of the board's staff, which had raised concerns about alleged organized-crime links to the Rosemont casino's developer.
Besides that, the Gaming Board's staff had been concerned that the governor had named his close friend and fund-raiser, Christopher G. Kelly, as a "special government agent" to be involved in official state negotiations about the casino. Kelly, the Sun-Times later learned, was a business partner of Tony Rezko, another Blagojevich fund-raiser who had held an option to lease a hotel site next to the proposed casino site in Rosemont.
Rezko, also a former Obama fund-raiser, and Kelly both have denied any wrongdoing related to the casino, though both have been charged in separate, unrelated criminal cases since 2004.
The Sun-Times disclosed Rezko's interest in the Rosemont hotel site about three weeks before the news conference announcing Holder would be involved in the casino case. Holder was not aware of the story when he opted to get involved, a source said.
In an interview Tuesday, the Gaming Board's chief investigator in 2004 said the timing of Blagojevich's appointment of Holder raised the staff's suspicions.
"The concern was Holder had a bias to do whatever Blagojevich wanted, which was to give the casino to Rosemont," said Jim Wagner, who was a top Chicago FBI agent before he joined the Gaming Board, from which he retired in December 2005. "We all believed the only reason Holder was coming in was to fashion an investigation that would manipulate the casino into Rosemont."
So where would be the best place in the Federal Government for a mobbed-up attorney to cover for his friends? Attorney General. Sounds like the height of chutzpah. Which is passing strange. I never once heard Obama claim to be Jewish. But I have heard that some of his best friends are. Rahm Emanuel rings a bell. And was Rahm close to Blago (as he is fondly called in Illinois)? Yes he was.
You have to wonder how Obama found so many bent nominees for his cabinet. Chicago? Oh yeah.
I should point out that Holder never got the job.
"Holder and his firm did some preliminary work in anticipation of the engagement, but did not undertake the investigation itself before it was canceled," said Cutter, the Obama transition team spokeswoman. "Holder and his firm received no compensation from the state for this preparatory work.Of course it wasn't memorable. When you talk with certain people it is best to have a very bad memory.
"The 2004 press conference," she said, "was not memorable because Holder's legal work for the State of Illinois never materialized."
Cross Posted at Classical Values