Friday, July 2, 2010

Did Obama conspire with Balanoff to extort Blagojevich? - Withhold campaign contributions?

Yesterday, I raised the question as to why Barack Obama had chosen Illinois SEUI chief, Tom Balanoff, to be his emissary to Rod Blagojevich - to communicate his recommendation that Valerie Jarret be appointed to the US Senate. I noted that Blagojevich, in a taped conversation, can be heard offering his own explanation on the matter, namely, Obama wanted to distance himself from the pick etc. and wanted it to appear as if the appointment of Valerie Jarret was solely Blagojevich's decision.

I expanded a bit on Blagojevich's explanation: Balanoff was an outsider, not part of Obama's inner circle, hence, he was the perfect emissary for Obama. Essentially, it was an effective way for the President-elect to avoid leaving any fingerprints attached to the appointment.

But I was still puzzled as to why Obama specifically chose Balanoff of all people - outsiders, if you will - to communicate his recommendation of Jarrett for the senate. I then went on to offer a bit of rationale for that decision. However, I'm still contemplating whether to delete that part of my post - because the theory I had offered seems a bit of a stretch and because I don't have anything solid with which to back up this theory.

Nevertheless, the New York Times reports the following tidbit, which sheds some additional light on the matter. The last few paragraphs is the real zinger!:
Mr. Balanoff’s testimony [at the Blagojevich corruption trial] suggested he had mixed apple-polishing of Blago with tough love.

The apple-polishing included telling Blago that his off-the-wall notion about exiting office to run a union-sponsored, tax-exempt nonprofit to lobby on health care was a good one....

The unionist acted with a sense of entitlement and highlighted another reality, namely how money talks. The S.E.I.U. was a huge contributor to Mr. Blagojevich. If Mr. Balanoff wanted a meeting, presto, he got it.

And if Mr. Balanoff didn’t like what he heard, he raised the prospect in at least one conversation with the former governor of withholding his union’s ample purse in the next election — in this case, if Blago didn’t quickly pick Valerie Jarrett as Mr. Obama’s successor.

Mr. Balanoff..., initially desired Representative Jan Schakowsky for the seat. Yanking his union’s contributions would be perfectly legal, of course, but it also constituted a slice of the realpolitik that has Blago sitting at the defense table. [Ed. Note: It's funny how I didn't notice any of this when I perused the transcripts of the [tapped] phone calls. Either I missed this conversation, or it only came out during Balanoff's testimony. Nevertheless, until today, I didn't notice any of this in the media reports pertaining to Balanoff's testimony.]
Hmmm. So, Tom Balanoff, who just happens to be an emissary of Barack Obama, threatens to withhold campaign contributions from Blagojevich if he didn’t quickly pick Valerie Jarrett as Obama’s successor; even though Balanoff's preferred choice was Jan Schakowsky and he wasn't even keen on Valerie Jarrett, Obama's preferred choice.

Oh my! Chicago-style politics at its worst, with Obama right smack in the middle of the corruption and the extortion attempt.

The question that really needs to be examined, is not whether Rod Blagojevich tried to sell Barack Obama's senate seat, but whether Balanoff and Obama tried to purchase the seat from Blagojevich by means of extortion!

Question: Is the mainstream media still going to turn a blind eye to Obama's likely [at best indirect] involvement in the aforementioned extortion attempt?

Answer: Yes......

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