Chicago's sordid political machine churned out another felon last week. Ho hum. That's business as usual in the Windy City, unfortunately. As news bulletins blared the latest political casualty, Northsiders and Southsiders alike shrugged—seemingly inured to the steady stream of arrests, indictments and convictions that too often define what Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass aptly terms "The Chicago Way." This conviction, however, represents more than an average garden-variety corruption scandal. The demise of crooked businessman and political fixer Tony Rezko may very well end the political career of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Perhaps more significantly, it adds another name to the expanding roster of Sen. Barack Obama's disgraced friends, donors, and associates.
Prior to Wednesday's verdict, the national Obamedia paid scant attention to the relationship between their preferred candidate and Mr. Rezko, who was convicted on 16 of 24 federal counts. A jury found Obama's longtime friend and financier guilty of aiding and abetting bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering—all of which will likely contribute to a lengthy prison sentence. The federal convict and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee have known each other for the better part of two decades, with the former raising approximately $250,000 for the latter's various campaigns. After Rezko first offered Obama a job in the early 1990s, a friendship and political alliance was born; the two men shared dinners, joint outings with their wives, and a lucrative political network. Rezko served on Obama's financing committee during his 2004 campaign, helping to raise approximately $160,000 for the aspiring U.S. Senator. Shortly thereafter, dark clouds began to gather over Chateau Rezko.