This is the caliber of human being who becomes a successful Illinois politician. And, therefore, this is the type of man that Barack Obama, with every option in the world open to him, chose to spend his days in alliance with, so burning was Obama's hunger for power.
The ABC7 I-Team has learned that an attorney who went undercover for the FBI in the late 1980's says he told federal authorities years ago about wrongdoing by Blagojevich.
His name is Robert Cooley.
Cooley was a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago in the late 1980's who became one of the most potent witnesses against Chicago corruption, testifying for federal prosecutors in cases that resulted in dozens of convictions.
Cooley says that before Rod Blagojevich got into politics he was a bookmaker on the North Side who regularly paid the Chicago mob to operate.
"When I was working with government wearing wire, I reported, I observed Rod, the present governor, who was running a gambling operation out in the western suburbs. He was paying street tax to the mob out there," said Robert Cooley, federal informant.On a web-based interview show last week, Cooley said he reported to federal authorities nearly two decades ago that Rod Blagojevich had been operating an illegal sports gambling business.
During Operation Gambat in the late 1980's and early 1990's, Cooley's undercover work and testimony put away 24 crooked politicians, judges, lawyers and cops.
Several years ago, when Mr. Blagojevich was running for re-election, Cooley provided the same information to the ABC7 I-Team. Because Cooley did not want to be identified at the time and the governor denied it, ABC7 did not report the story.
On Tuesday, Cooley spoke on the record.
He told ABC7 that Mr. Blagojevich regularly paid a so-called street tax to Robert "Bobby the Boxer" Abbinanti, a convicted outfit gambling collector. In the early 1980's, Abbinanti was working for convicted West Side mob boss Marco D'amico. Bookies pay street taxes to the crime syndicate in exchange for being allowed to operate such a racket.
"I predicted five years ago when he ran the first time that he was a hands on person who would be selling every position in the state of Illinois and that it exactly what happened," said Cooley.
I moved to Chicago three years before Obama and had a lovely time there. But never once did I ever consider becoming a Chicago politician. I can't recall ever meeting anybody in Chicago who grew up elsewhere who said they had ever thought of becoming a Chicago politician. It no more occurred to us than to apply for membership in the Chicago Outfit. But Obama spent three years at Harvard Law School telling everybody that he was going back to Chicago to become mayor.
It's not as if Obama wanted to be a reformer, like his predecessor in the U.S. Senate, Peter Fitzgerald, who brought Patrick Fitzgerald to town to be Eliot Ness. Obama didn't want to change the rules of Illinois politics; he wanted to win at Illinois politics.