THE BLOG

I Ask Again: Did Burris' Lobbying Partner Help Patti Blagojevich Land a Job?

05/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Twice in early January-- see here and here-- I wrote about what, exactly, our now entrenched Senator Roland Burris did for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to win the jackpot of being appointed to Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

I suggested that one of the favors Burris might have proffered to Blagojevich was the important one of helping his wife, Patti, land a full-time job. That position, as development director of the Chicago Christian Industrial League (CCIL), for which she held no apparent experience, was worth $80,000 to $100,000. (After the arrest of her husband last December, Patti and the CCIL parted company.)

Burris' partner in the lobbying firm Burris & Lebed Consulting, LLC --which reportedly reaped nearly $300,000 in state business under the Blagojevich administration--was Fred Lebed, who served on the CCIL's Board of Directors and also on Blagojevich's transition team.

On their firm's website Burris and Lebed used to boast that, "their vast network of relationships are unmatched and stretch within every corner of Illinois and many of the major metropolitan areas in the country."

The website also claimed that, "Burris & Lebed Consulting represents numerous clients in front of the Chicago City Council, Cook County Board of Commissioners, suburban local governments, other governmental units across Illinois, Illinois General Assembly, the Governor's Office and other local elected and appointed officials."

The Feds did not indict Patti Thursday, although that does not mean she won't be indicted later.

And there is much in the 75-page indictment about Patti's significant real estate fees--allegedly more than $150,000 and $54,396 from the infamous Tony Rezko, now imprisoned and cooperating with the feds --the latter at least for no or little apparent work. David Kidwell and John Chase report in the Chicago Tribune that while Patti was not indicted, the feds "say she took thousands in payoffs for real estate work she never did." The Tribune reporters also note attempts to push Patti into jobs as a securities dealer and when those didn't materialize, her husband directing his chief of staff, John Harris, now reportedly cooperating with the feds, to withhold work for the firms that would not hire Patti.

I looked for mention in the morning news reports of how Patti might have landed that cushy job at the financially struggling CCIL. She snagged the job at about the time the feds had begun to scrutinize her real estate dealings and she needed work in a completely different field.

There was no mention of this lucky break for the former first family of Illinois in the rush of reporting about the indictment. Roland Burris, for all of his fuzzy, goofy performances since landing Obama's seat, had it figured exactly right. The spotlight would shift and new headlines would push him off the stage and who would care about apparent ties among CCIL, a nonprofit that helps the homeless, and Patti, Rod and Burris' partner, Fred Lebed.