Book: Blagojevich said he believed Rezko channeled $25,000 to Obama
Federal authorities did not think the claim was credible, authors say
By Steve Mills and Todd Lighty, Chicago Tribune reporters
7:13 p.m. CDT, August 8, 2012
An upcoming book about Rod Blagojevich says undercover -recordings caught the former governor saying he had heard that convicted influence peddler Antoin “Tony” Rezko secretly channeled $25,000 in cash to Barack Obama, but federal authorities did not deem the claim credible.
The book, “Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself out of the Governor’s Office and Into Prison,” suggests Blagojevich was talking about an undisclosed payment to help Obama with his 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate.
The book says that federal investigators pursued the claim, but ultimately gave it little credence. “Never was Blagojevich seen as a credible threat to the incoming president,” says the book, an outside project by two Chicago Tribune reporters.
The White House referred questions about the matter to the Obama campaign. Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman, said the claim “is preposterous and it is false. No such payment was ever offered or made, and there never has been any suggestion or question of it from anyone, except apparently by Rod Blagojevich.”
Federal authorities declined to comment to the Tribune about the investigation.
An attorney for the now-imprisoned Rezko dismissed the allegation, saying that Blagojevich’s claim is “simply a fabrication and not true.”
“You must keep in mind that the source of this allegation is inherently unreliable and not credible,” said the attorney, Joseph J. Duffy.
Blagojevich’s lawyer, Sheldon Sorosky, did not return calls. Another of his other attorneys, Lauren Kaeseberg, declined comment.
The disclosure of Blagojevich’s comments comes as the president is locked in a tight re-election campaign with Republican Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who has sought to link Obama’s Chicago connections to the city’s culture of political corruption.
Obama’s ties to Rezko were a nagging issue in the 2008 campaign. Rezko and Obama were friends, and Rezko raised as much as $250,000 for Obama for the first three political offices he sought. Obama also acknowledged a lapse in judgment over his involvement with Rezko in private real estate transactions related to the purchase of Obama’s home in the Kenwood neighborhood in 2005.