The scuttlebutt at the trial of former Governor Rod Blagojevich, is that the prosecution has scratched his fundraiser, Tony Rezko, from its witness list.
Why? Because they don't know what he's gonna say, is the talk in the corridors. This is precisely why he should be called to testify. The primary role of a prosecutor is not to convict, although you would think so with their high success rate in obtaining convictions at the federal courthouse. No, the primary role of any prosecutor, is to see that justice is done. Whether he hurts or helps Blagojevich, Rezko needs to take the stand.
So far, the government's witnesses have been less than compelling, which is why Rezko is needed. Former Chief of Staff Lon Monk admitted he repeatedly lied to his boss Rod Blagojevich for his own personal gain. Then, when Monk exited the Blagojevich administration, hired by racetrack owner John Johnston to be his lobbyist at twelve grand a month, Monk admitted repeatedly lying to his new boss, too. That he told Johnston he had talked with the ex-guv when he hadn't.
Other witnesses have been paraded in to testify that Blagojevich was trying to leverage whether he signed a bill or not for campaign contributions. This is irrelevant. A bill the legislature passes, becomes law in 60 days whether the governor signs it or not. That is why your elected state representatives and senators are called "lawmakers." They make the law, not the governor. It's like that in all the states.
Peter Elkind's Rough Justice, an account of the demise of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, written with Spitzer's cooperation, talks about the trying transition Spitzer made from being New York Attorney General where he had a lot of unilateral power to being governor. Elkin writes on page 165: "But as governor everything was different. The lawmakers could pass a bill without him; he couldn't pass anything without them." It is the same in Illinois.
So, why is the prosecution making so much of whether the governor signs a bill or doesn't? It has zero effect on whether it becomes law. The governor's signature or lack of it, does not prevent a bill from becoming law.
But what if the guv vetoes a bill? It still can become law. It then goes back to the legislature to override his veto, but this time it has to be passed by a supermajority vote.
However, the testimony in this trial has not been about the governor's veto power. The testimony along with the wiretaps, have been about his alleged withholding of his signature from bills the legislature has passed to extort campaign contributions. Defense attorney Sam Adams, Jr. asked Lon Monk on cross whether the ex-guv had ever talked about vetoing any bill. Monk's response was "no."
Then, former Deputy Governor Brad Tusk armed with an Ivy League degree from Donald Trump's alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the prestigious University of Chicago, claimed that the ex-guv wanted Rahm Emanuel's Hollywood agent brother to throw him a fundraiser before releasing $2 million in grant money to the Academy for Urban School Leadership's new athletic field. Except under cross-examination, Tusk admits the alleged demand from the ex-guv was never made to former Congressman Emanuel, and that Blagojevich mentioned it only once in a late night off- the-cuff phone call, then never brought it up again. By the way, the school got its money, and there was no fundraiser.
Brad Tusk on cross, asked if he had turned in Blagojevich to the Inspector General as required under the state ethics law that went into effect in 2003, said "no". He had not contacted the prosecutors for whom he was now appearing as their witness. He had not contacted the FBI. Instead, months later, he quit the guv to take a higher paying job with Lehman Brothers. That's the firm some say precipitated our nation's financial collapse in the fall of 2008 when the federal government refused to bail them out.
Yes, less than compelling testimony so far. Where's Rezko? Unlike Tusk who didn't turn in Blagojevich, Blagojevich turned Rezko in to the Inspector General when he suspected wrongdoing. So Blago turns in Rezko and now he won't testify? Rezko needs to come to court to clear things up.
Rezko either makes the case for the government, or he doesn't. All the other witnesses are testifying about him. Let's hear from the man himself. "Tony the Tiger" (with apologies to Kellogg's) needs to man up and show up.