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March 7, 2008
Obama Mentioned on First Day of Rezko Trial
That didn't take long.
The trial of Antoin "Tony" Rezko which featured opening statements by the prosecution and defense on Thursady, is already living up to its promise to bring the name of Barack Obama into the trial mix:
Barack Obama is only a bit player in the federal trial of his former fundraiser and friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko, but it didn’t take long for the name of the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate to be raised in court. Obama's presence will hang over the trial of his long time friend, patron, and fund raiser who is charged with 24 counts of fraud and mail fraud. Prosecutors are expected to prove that far from being the altruistic benefactor claimed by the defense, Rezko sought out politicians and expected favors in return for the money he raised for them.
In his opening statement Thursday, Rezko’s lead defense attorney, Joseph Duffy, mentioned Obama and five other politicians in explaining Rezko’s motivation for political involvement.
That involvement, Duffy said, stemmed from Rezko’s affection for the political process and desire to help candidates he believed had the public’s best interest at heart. Duffy said Rezko raised money for the campaigns of Republicans and Democrats alike and expected nothing in return.
Witness after witness will testify that Rezko sought control of two powerful state boards so that his "pay for play" kickback scheme would have credibility. In the end, he was able to place his cronies on the two boards and garner hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit payments from companies seeking to do business with those state boards.
The trial is expected to last 12-16 weeks - an excruciatingly long period of time for a presidential candidate locked in a tight race for the nomination.