Political fundraising courtesy of the mob

Ah, the dog days of August. The kid is at camp, the wife and other offspring escaped the city for a far away beach. So what's a guy going to do all alone, especially if it is his birthday? Well, if you're President Barack Obama (D) you go back home and party on with others who may or may not be in the same predicament.

Obama is in Chicago for a few days to celebrate his natal day while starring at some Democratic political fund raisers with the crème de la crème of Chicago and Illinois politics, many of whom are his best buds. Many of them are also not so coincidentally mobsters, or those that deal with the mob, or political hangers on with hands out hoping for a chance to enrich themselves from the corrupt political bosses and/or ex cons. The cons of course won't make it to the celebrations--they're behind bars. They sent their regrets even if they weren't invited--wouldn't look good. Radicals and bomb makers such as that dynamic dynamite duo power couple Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn might make an appearance.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass describes the cast of characters one might meet at one of these fund raising soirees.

Former banker at his family's now bankrupt Broadway Bank, state treasurer, 34 year old Alexi Giannoulias (D) is running for the senate seat formerly held by Obama; the same seat which former Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) stands accused of trying to sell when Obama had to sacrifice it for the presidency. And Obama is only too willing to help his pal Giannoulias raise some money. But there are problems, Chicago style political problems.

Tony Rezko, who helped the Obamas with an, uh unusually favorable mortgage for his Chicago mansion and adjoining property and other financial deals, who arranged some contacts in Obama's rise to political power is now

the star of a Sun-Times report published Monday about a $22 million development loan from the Giannoulias family's now-defunct Broadway Bank to a Rezko company.

It would be nice for Rezko to show up. That way, Obama could point, then shout for all to hear: "That's not the Tony Rezko I know!"

Sadly, Tony has no time for fundraisers these days.

He's in federal custody, awaiting sentencing on his convictions for political influence peddling.

Rezko has other pending cases, too, including one involving bouncing $450,000 in checks written against his Broadway Bank accounts to pay gambling debts.

Kass goes on to detail what other Chicago Tribune investigative reporters have discovered about other Giannoulias/ Broadway Bank approved loans such as a $27.7 loan to a duo in the "street-loan" business, running a nationwide prostitution ring and other wholesome businesses.

And when accused by his Senate seat opponent, Rep Mark Kirk (R), of being a mob banker Giannoulias responded

"To hear my opponent Congressman Kirk say it's a mob bank is offensive," Giannoulias told WGN-AM morning host Greg Jarrett the other day. "It's dangerously inaccurate. I wouldn't know what a mafia guy looked like if he walked down the street."

OK, fine. But could he recognize Michael "Jaws" Giorango and Demitri Stavropoulos?

They received the $27.7 million in loans from Broadway Bank. The majority was loaned when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer. He touted his bank experience in his campaign for state treasurer.


And more, more, more in the bizarrely corrupt world of Chicago, Cook County and Illinois politics where the trains do run on time though. Mostly.

And these are some of the more public events. Obama, proprietor of a "transparent" administration, (his words) has been attending numerous pricey funders, $30,000 per person, no press allowed. The attendees are obviously typical Democrats. Matt Negrin of Politico tells of several of these held last week. One was held at the ritzy home Manhattan home of British born Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, another in the equally posh Washington home of Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.VA). What do donors get for $30,000? Politico reports, besides influence of course.

A Democrat familiar with the fundraisers described the routine: First, the president would briefly address the group of a few dozen donors to express his gratitude, in cursory, impromptu remarks. Then, he would spend roughly an hour, speaking one-on-one with supporters or addressing groups of up to five of them at a time.

At events where the donors are seated at tables, Obama might sit down at each table to chat, with someone more familiar with the donors to guide him and make introductions.

"It's more than just shaking hands and taking a picture," said the Democrat, who is not authorized to publicly talk about the events on the record. "It's fair to say that he's having a conversation, but he's not delivering remarks."

At a more public fund raising luncheon event in Chicago, ABC News reports yesterday's attendees paid up to $2500 to hear Obama praise Alexi Giannoulias thusly.

"Alexi is my friend," Obama said, making a personal pitch from the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. "I know his character. I know how much he loves this country. I know how committed he is to public service for all the right reasons."


Alexi is not one of these politicians who puts his finger to the wind and who changes who he is or where he stands to suit the political moment. You can trust him. You can count on him," Obama said.

The president played up Giannoulias' time as Illinois state treasurer as a fighter.

"Alexi has proven himself as someone who isn't afraid to stand up to special interests," Obama said. "He took on credit card companies and banned them from aggressively marketing on college campuses, so that our kids don't graduate with credit card debt on top of tuition debt."

Uhm actually, under Alexi's expertise, parents who put their funds in the state college fund lost most of their money. So the kids--and their parents-- will graduate with tuition debt. Lots of it. And by protecting college students from the realities of marketing, credit cards and other items, how will they ever learn responsibility?

Happy, happy 49th birthday President Obama. Remember, you're not just getting older, you're getting better.