Illinois GOP to Blagojevich: Give it all back

 
 
  • Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign already gave away to charities more than $65,000 directly tied to Rezko, but the Illinois GOP says he still has $1.4 million in Rezko-linked money in the bank.

    Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign already gave away to charities more than $65,000 directly tied to Rezko, but the Illinois GOP says he still has $1.4 million in Rezko-linked money in the bank.

Published: 6/5/2008 3:32 PM | Updated: 6/5/2008 9:54 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- The chairman of the Illinois Republican Party urged Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich to come clean and return any and all money linked to Tony Rezko, the political fundraiser convicted this week of widespread financial corruption.

"Rod Blagojevich broke his promise to the people of Illinois to clean up government," said GOP chairman Andy McKenna. "It's been a long time in the making, but now more than ever, Rod Blagojevich must do what's right and give back Tony Rezko's dirty money."

That so-called "dirty money" would total $1.4 million according to FBI testimony in Rezko's trial.

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The Blagojevich administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Blagojevich's campaign already gave away to charities more than $65,000 directly tied to Rezko. The charities benefited juvenile diabetes and breast cancer research.

The governor was among numerous Democrats dumping Rezko's cash after the Wilmette businessman was indicted in October 2006.

Blagojevich, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller Dan Hynes and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama were among those who quickly announced they'd make charitable donations equal to what they'd received from Rezko and his affiliated businesses in recent years.

An Obama spokesman confirmed that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had months ago donated the money that could possibly be credited to Rezko. The tally was nearly $160,000.

However, not all Democrats have done the same.

Campaign finance records show state Senate President Emil Jones Jr., a Chicago Democrat, received a $2,000 donation in April 2006 from a business co-owned by Rezko. Following Rezko's 2006 indictment, Jones said he had no plans of making any donation and on Thursday brushed aside questions.

"I don't know whether I took any money," Jones said as he left a meeting with Blagojevich and other legislative leaders.

State records show state House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat and state party chairman, received $25,000 from Rezko, the last contribution coming in 2000.

Similarly, in late 2006 a Madigan spokesman said he didn't know if any decisions had been made regarding the money. Calls Thursday seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Rezko has long been an Illinois financial insider, giving to both parties. For instance, former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar received $4,000 from Rezko, though none since 1997.

As for Blagojevich, campaign finance watchdogs said they've tried to document the $1.4 million Rezko figure ever since it came out in trial but have been unable to do so using public records.

"There's no way for us on the outside to say what's Tony money and what's not," said David Morrison, the associate director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

He said the amount must have come from internal Blagojevich campaign records seized by federal authorities.