Sounds like the name of a law practice right? Instead it’s the surnames of the three (brown) stooges in low places who figure at the heart of the Blagojevich pay-for-play scandal, key actors in the attempt to auction off the IL senate seat vacated by Obama to the highest bidder as if it were nothing more than a suitable boy from a “respectable” but dowry mad family.
This is how it allegedly went down, at a lunch meeting at India House, of course:
Businessmen with ties to both Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson discussed raising $1 million for Blagojevich as a way of persuading him to appoint Jackson to President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat. [Link]
Blagojevich made an appearance at an Oct. 31 luncheon meeting at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg sponsored by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak… Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi privately told many of the more than two dozen attendees the fundraising effort was aimed at supporting Jackson’s bid for the Senate. Among the attendees was a Blagojevich fundraiser already under scrutiny by federal investigators, Joliet pharmacist Harish Bhatt.
“Raghu said he needed to raise a million for Rod to make sure Jesse got the seat,” the second businessman said. “He said, ‘I can raise half of it, $500,000.’ The idea was that the other two would help raise the rest.” [Link]
p>I know that our generation often tries to persuade the older generation to get involved in American politics, but this is not what we have in mind! Legal campaign contributions can be good, but getting busted trying to buy a senate seat is bad.
p>(For the record, “Jackson’s attorney said while Jackson discussed the Senate seat with Nayak, he never asked him to do anything.” [Link] It really isn’t clear at this point whether Nayak was acting for Jackson or just freelancing, but Jackson’s seems unlikely to gain the senate seat now. )
p>So who are these jokers? (profiles and pics after the fold)
p>Bedi is one of Blagojevich’s main fundraisers in the Chicago desi community.
Bedi is the managing director for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Trade and Investment, overseeing nine foreign trade offices around the world from China to Israel. … Blagojevich has referred to Bedi, who wears a turban, as “My Sikh warrior.” [Link]
“Rod promised me that if he won he would make everyone in Illinois know what a Sikh is,” said Bedi, who has stood on stages next to the governor at high-profile events – a gesture, said Bedi, that might seem insignificant, but does a lot to help Sikhs gain acceptance. [Link]
Nayak is a figure close to both Jesse Jacksons who is also a major fundraiser for the governor:
Nayak, 54, is a political and community leader in Chicago’s Indian community who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Blagojevich, including more than $200,000 from Nayak, his wife and his various corporations. Nayak and his wife have donated more than $22,000 to Jackson, federal records show, and raised more for the congressman.
Nayak owns a series of surgery centers on Chicago’s North Side. He also founded and until recently retained an ownership stake in a drug testing laboratory with millions of dollars in Illinois public aid contracts.
BTW, this is just the opening of an amazing puff piece on Nayak, which made him seem like the second coming of Nehru, Patel and Gandhi all rolled into one:
Among the community leaders often in the news, the name of Raghu Nayak figures prominently. Raghu Nayak is an ardent Indian flag-bearer, who strived to awaken political consciousness among the Indian Americans to empower them. Above all, he is a distinguished steward of the Indian American community. His illustrious life, replete with altruism, ethos and fine Indian values, has earned him admiration far and beyond. [Link]
Harish Bhatt was the most openly shady character of the three. He was already in trouble with the feds for an incident of alleged influence peddling last year:
Late last year, federal authorities took over a State Police probe into whether Bhatt might have illegally solicited a $25,000 contribution for Blagojevich’s campaign fund from another pharmacy owner, Jatin Patel. Patel had claimed in a State Police report that Bhatt had told him the contribution would help him be treated “fairly” by the administration on a regulatory issue. Patel’s company, Sarj USA Inc., gave $25,000 to the governor’s campaign fund June 27, 2005. But Patel canceled the check within a few weeks and filed the police report. [Link]
Bhatt also had 2 pharmacies raided by the feds last week, for a matter that they claim is unrelated.
Coming back to the original Blagotapes, can we now assume that Fundraiser A == Bedi and Individual D==Nayak?
ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Fundraiser A to reach out to Individual D, an individual who ROD BLAGOJEVICH is attempting to obtain campaign contributions from and who, based on intercepted phone calls, ROD BLAGOJEVICH believes to be close to Senate Candidate 5. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that Senate Candidate 5 was very much a realistic candidate for the open Senate seat, but that ROD BLAGOJEVICH was getting “a lot of pressure” not to appoint Senate Candidate 5… ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that if Senate Candidate 5 is going to be chosen to fill the Senate seat “some of this stuffs gotta start happening now . . .right now. . . and we gotta see it. You understand?” [Link]
And if so, does this mean that Gawker will lose interest now that Individual D is no longer “billionaire Supermarket magnate and young model enthusiast” Ron Burkle?
Clearly we’re coming up in the world. I think there is around a 40 year lag between when a group dominates Chicago corruption and when it has a member as President of the United States. Even if Jindal doesn’t make it, we should see a brown President in our life times!
Update: Ben Smith points out that none of these three illustrious gentlemen have been accused of doing anything illegal in this incident:
these guys haven’t been accused of anything beyond run of the mill political fundraising.
Related stories on desis and political corruption in Chicago: Vote early and often