Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Rezko and the Emir of Qatar
UPDATE:Thursday:10-19-2006, 2:30 PM
Tony Rezko had arrived at Chicago O'Hare international airport today and was taken into custody by FBI agents on charges of fraud and extortion
While the feds are awaiting the return of Tony Rezko from overseas, a sideshow is opening up about how Tony Rezko made a web of friends and contacts by using them to channel campaign donations to Chicago area politicians and to his friend governor Blagojevich. And ultimately back to him through kickbacks as the indictment alleges.
Rezko’s contacts and partners are not restricted to Arab Americans, his partners include other Americans, which he did business with and as the government alleges conspired with to commit criminal conduct.
Rezko even was trying to get the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, to partner with him in one of his businesses! He was quoted in Springfield newspaper, last year saying, "I'm planning to get him to do business in Illinois," Rezko said of the emir. After the Emir visited Springfield in May of last year.
Rezko told columnist Bernard Shoenburg of the Star Journal Register, a Springfield newspaper, that he is “ friend with the Emir”
The Emir of Qatar later made a $1 million donation to the Lincoln presidential library and Museum in Springfield.This was also reported by Chicago Tribune last year.
( Emir of Qatar)
According to the SJR newspaper in Springfield , Rezko said that he made a trip to Qatar a month before the visit, apparently trying to get the Emir to come to Springfield. And to make the $1 million donation
“The expectation is within three months he will make a donation to the museum" Rezko said then.
This appears to be true to Rezko’s fundraising pattern. Bringing the Emir to come to Springfield,have dinner with the governor and pay a million dollar. A very expensive dinner if you ask me. knowing what we know now about Rezko's "business" methods, most likely he was trying to set the unsuspecting Emir up.
What did Rezko get out of it? It remains to be seen.
Relating to Rezko –Blagojevich affair (Blzko) the Chicago Tribune ran a story yesterday about Khalil Shalabi and how he got a $78000.000 a year state job apparently as a result of his campaign work and fund raising for Blagojevich in conjunction with Tony Rezko. Khalil Shalabi is one of the leaders of the Arab American Democratic Club.
The Arab American Democratic Club was the vehicle through which some members of the Arab community worked through Rezko, to donate and collect money for Blagojevich, and now one can infer from press reports and government indictments that those donations were made with a tacit quid pro quo understanding of all parties involved.
The Arab American Democratic Club, or the Democratic Club as it is known in the community was something like of a black sheep in the Arab community. It was a private club and according to many community leaders I spoke to for this story, the Democratic club hardly had anything to do with the community.
The Democratic club, started in 1994 by Ray Hanania and others among them were Khalil Shalabi, Samir Khalil, Ayoub Talhami and Miriam Zayed.The DC was organized to help Miriam Zayed who in 1994 ran for election to high school board district 230 in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.
Miriam Zayed, an active community member, well meaning and an honorable lady, did not win.But because of some disagreements among the board members Ray Hanania left and since then it became Khalil Shalabi and Samir Khalil organization.
Ayoub Talhami, now a retired city engineer was, according to many people I talked to, in it in good faith and not for personal gains. He for a long time worked for the City of Chicago, and needed no connections or clout to get a job.
The first time I met Khalil Shalabi was in the early nineties when I went to his business for a story I was writing. I am not too sure what was it about then but Maybe it was about some community squabble!
His activism with Rezko and others in this league had finally paid off in a form of a state job. But because of state’s Inspector General investigations of his professional conduct while on state payroll had recommended his dismissal. “Blagojevich is moving to fire him” The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday.
For Samir Khalil, the first time I met him was at the West 63RD street Chicago Police station when the Commander of whom I was interviewing for a story pertaining to Arab Americans, invited him to sit with us. He owned Ski Insurance agency across the street. That was in the early nineties also. He is now sitting on some fire fighters commission in Palos Hills.
Illinois Board of Election records shows that he made a $1000.00 donation to Blagojevich campaign on 9-21-02.
The Democratic club gave Blagojevich $10,500.00 since 2002 according to state records.
Ali Ata is another member of the Democratic club who had made it all the way to head a state finance commission without having any finance experience, and according to the Chicago Sun-Times investigation earlier this year he actually failed to pay mortgage on a property he owned. He resigned amid state investigation.
( Ali Ata)
According to state records, Ali Ata made a total of $ 81,750.00 donations to political candidates. 85% of it went to governor Blagojevich and his father in law Alderman Dick Mell. Blagojevich got the lion share in the total of $ 65000.00, and 34th Ward Alderman Dick Mell got $4000.00
Ata’s donations to Blagojevich:
(source: Illinois board of elections)
Alderman Dick Mell Chicago’s 34th Ward got the total of $4000.00 from Ata.
12-25-02 $ 1000.00
(Source: Illinois board of elections)
(Blagojevich's father in-law,chicago 34th ward alderman, Dick Mell)