Today in the Daily Herald there was article that shows the exact reason that the Illinois GOP needs a major overhaul in its leadership. There are reports that Governor Blagojevich enlisted the add of Bob Kjellander, a major insider in the Illinois Republican party, to attempt remove Patrick Fitzgerald from his job as US Attorney. Is this what an Illinois Republican Party leader should be doing? Possible working with a Governor who office is under investigation by the US Attornery to try and remove him the US Attornery from Office?
“As federal investigators closed in, Gov. Rod Blagojevich insiders were angling with Bush administration architect Karl Rove to get U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald kicked out of office, according to disclosures made in federal court.
The far-reaching accusations came from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago as part of the corruption trial against Blagojevich fundraiser and confidant Antoin “Tony” Rezko.
Federal prosecutors said in court that co-schemer Steven Loren was ready to testify he was told Illinois Republican insider Bob Kjellander was working to get Fitzgerald removed.
Powerbroker Bill Cellini “said it was Bob Kjellander’s job to take care of the U.S. Attorney,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton said in court late Tuesday, in reading Loren’s earlier grand jury testimony.
The statement was not further explained Tuesday, but in court this morning Hamilton told U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve that she expected Rezko business partner Ali Ata, who is cooperating with authorities, to testify Rezko told him the same thing in 2004.
“Mr. Kjellander is working with Mr. Rove to have Mr. Fitzgerald removed so someone else can come in” and end the investigation of state corruption, Hamilton said in summarizing Ata’s expected testimony about what Rezko said.
Kjellander, an Illinois lobbyist, is a national Republican player who recently served as treasurer to the Republican National Committee. He is known friends with Rove and helped orchestrate George Bush’s Midwest campaigns.
Fitzgerald has been on the Bush administration’s radar screen since at least 2003, when he took on the investigation of the Valerie Plame leak in which White House officials were accused of illegally disclosing her CIA identity in retribution for her husband’s opposition to the Iraq war.
The investigation ultimately ended in the conviction of Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby on perjury charges.
In fact, it was revealed last year the Bush administration ranked Fitzgerald one of the nation’s U.S. Attorneys who did “not distinguish themselves” in 2005, at the same time he was heading up the Plame case and prosecuting former Republican Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges.
Those rankings later evolved into the notable ousting of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006, a move that was widely criticized at the time as being politically motivated.
Traditionally, presidents have been expected to remove politics from the choice of U.S. Attorneys so as not to influence the prosecution or investigations of political figures across the country.
Kjellander has not been charged with any wrongdoing. He is, however, allegedly connected to the overall scheme in which Rezko is accused of shaking down state investors for bribes and campaign contributions.
Kjellander received about $800,000 in questioned “finder’s fees” tied to a bond deal under Blagojevich.
In court today, St. Eve ultimately ruled Loren couldn’t testify about his conversation with Cellini in 2004 because it was unrelated to Rezko. However, she said that does not rule out the later testimony of Ata that directly ties Rezko to the alleged incident.”