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March 1, 2008
Rezko Trial will be Eye Opener on Obama Associates
Antoin "Tony" Rezko goes on trial next Monday on bribery and extortion charges in a case that promises to reveal several shady characters with ties to Barack Obama:
With the corruption trial of one of Sen. Barack Obama's longtime friends and supporters set to begin Monday in Chicago, Ill., reform watchdogs say it will reveal the "cesspool" of Illinois politics in which Obama came of age and has said little about in his campaign for president. No doubt Obama will try to distance himself from some of the crooks. He has been downplaying his close relationship with Rezko since he started his campaign. And in a very real sense, this trial could very well open Obama to charges of hypocrisy:
"We have a sick political culture," said Jay Stewart, the executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, "and that's the environment that Barack Obama came from."
Stewart says he does not understand why Obama has lectured others about corruption in Washington and Kenya but "been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state, including at this point, mostly Democratic politicians."
There was no immediate comment from the Obama campaign.
The Better Government Association's Stewart says Illinois politics is the opposite of the sentiments Obama now praises. Perhaps the reason Obama won't speak up about corruption in Chicago is that he is too close to it?
"That's a noble version he is describing. He is not talking about Illinois when he does that," said Stewart, who acknowledges Obama was "a cut above" most state legislators and reliably supported ethics legislation. "I don't begrudge him for speaking out on it (corruption) in Washington or Kenya. If it's appropriate, you should say it. To say it's appropriate in Illinois is a huge understatement," Stewart said.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky