Fast-forward. Nearly two years later, Obama's legal fixers can't mask the Chicago-esque odor of Sestak-gate. The president's legal team, led by chief fixer and legal counsel Bob Bauer, orchestrated a Memorial Day weekend document dump intended to squash mounting public criticism of the administration's alleged government job offer to Pennsylvania Democratic senatorial candidate Joe Sestak. Bauer's memo acknowledged that "options for Executive Branch service were raised with him" through former President Bill Clinton, whom White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel enlisted to woo Sestak.
Blago knows all about working with Team Obama through intermediaries to explore, ahem, "options." Blago's then-Chief of Staff John Harris allegedly mapped out a "three-way deal" to give the White House a "buffer" obscuring the obvious quid pro quo. SEIU would assist Obama with Blago's appointment of a union-friendly candidate; Blago would get his cushy union job; and SEIU would be rewarded down the road with favors from the White House. Team Blago reached out to the SEIU. An unnamed SEIU official agreed to float their plan and "see where it goes."
The Senate candidate Blago allegedly approached was top Obama adviser and Chicago political godmother Valerie Jarrett, who removed herself from the running when she took a top White House adviser post instead. Who was the "SEIU official" Team Blago spoke with and met? Internal communications in December 2008 fingered Obama's longtime Chicago pal and SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. Balanoff, not coincidentally, had been appointed by Blago to the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.
Two days before Christmas 2008, legal counsel Greg Craig released an official self-exonerating report outlining contacts between Team Obama and Team Blago. Balanoff, it turns out, had indeed spoken with Jarrett. The Obama defense? Despite her much-touted political brilliance, the legal team argued, Jarrett "did not understand the conversation to suggest that the Governor wanted the cabinet seat as a quid pro quo for selecting any specific candidate to be the President-Elect's replacement." The Blago subpoena of the president filed last month begs to differ -- and directly implicates Obama:
"...despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president (presumably SEIU's Andy Stern) told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on Nov. 3, 2008, who received a phone message from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message, labor union official told labor union president, "I'm the one." Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick."
It's going to be a long, hot summer of Chicago corruption.
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