Bedi, Bhatt and Nayak

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:

Raghu Nayak, “distinguished steward”

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

50 thoughts on “Bedi, Bhatt and Nayak

  1. First it was the Italians & Irish ones corrupting Chi town & NYC. Now, it’s the Indians! Yay!

  2. Blagojevich has referred to Bedi, who wears a turban, as “My Sikh warrior.”

    Apparently, Blagojevich is D-Punjab! Who knew?

    “billionaire Supermarket magnate and young model enthusiast” Ron Burkle

    More importantly, Clinton’s all-night LA party buddy, and source of a giant chunk of his post-presidential fortune?

  3. (Of course, Clinton dissolved his business ties with Burkle and his role in Yucaipa way back in January.)

  4. Well, another corrupt Illinois politician scandal and it’s not surprising at all that the scrutiny will come down on any associated with this situation.

    I guess the reputation as a state (Illinois) and a city (Chicago) with shady politics continues…

    Two governors in a row!

  5. 4 · GujuDude said

    Well, another corrupt Illinois politician scandal and it’s not surprising at all that the scrutiny will come down on any associated with this situation. I guess the reputation as a state (Illinois) and a city (Chicago) with shady politics continues… Two governors in a row!

    I think that’s about 5-6 Illini governors that headed to the slammer within a short time period.

  6. 5 · Rahul S said

    I think that’s about 5-6 Illini governors that headed to the slammer within a short time period.

    it is high, but nowhere near that. 3 out of the last 7 govs went to prison.

  7. I forget which one, but one of those guys wives is sitting in prison for shady business involving a Pharmaceutical lab.

  8. 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 is not a political lead; he is nothing more than a political fund raiser. the india tribune loves to prop these guys up because they live for the photo ops.

  9. My first thoughts were Bedi, Prasanna, Chandra

    Same here. Bishen Singh Bedi, Raghuram Bhat and Suru Nayak work as well. Last two are obviously junior partners in the bowling firm.

  10. Rewrite: Instead of: Legal campaign contributions can be good, but getting busted trying to buy a senate seat is bad. Legal campaign contributions can be good, but TRYING to buy a senate seat is bad.

  11. 16 · louiecypher said

    Is Chicago area basically subarctic Patna?

    Macaca please! Don’t insult Laloo’s intelligence by suggesting that he would indulge in such cartoonish clumsiness and commit the essential Hollywood fallacy of “the villain who talks too much and explains his master plan”. Bhaiya don’t blather blatantly about brashtachar. I believe that’s the first rule of Bihar Club.

  12. … getting busted trying to buy a senate seat is bad.

    Actually, getting busted trying to buy a senate seat is bad.

  13. What — high-flying Hindus maligned again? Surely all those who accuse these pillars of the Indian community are either jealous, pseudosecular, anti-market, sympathizers of Islamic terrorism, or self-hating. To the nit-picking moralists: surely noble ends justify unsavory means?

  14. 21 · portmanteau said

    What — high-flying Hindus maligned again? Surely all those who accuse these pillars of the Indian community are either jealous, pseudosecular, anti-market, sympathizers of Islamic terrorism, or self-hating. To the nit-picking moralists: surely noble ends justify unsavory means?

    this the mother of inapt comparisons. I understand why some find it unacceptable to ‘let it go’ but these gentlemen have obviously broken laws and with malice towards the common weal (to the extent that it exists in what is probably the most liberal legal environment in the country and the least civil libertarian city in the nation–Shopping venues was never so sweet as when it ends in Cook County.) Gloating just doesn’t become you, Portmanteau.

  15. Portmanteau,

    I don’t think no. 21 was necessary, it is only going to move the dialogue off topic

  16. 22 · Nayagan said

    Gloating just doesn’t become you, Portmanteau.

    i don’t think she was gloating, as much as engaging in, what we in the commie pandering biz call sarcasm.

  17. liberal,

    I did see the sarcasm, some of it even got on my shirt–but what for what end? Anyhow, you’re probably right re: sarc > gloat.

  18. Ha! I was actually waiting for that, but I figured it would happen earnestly not sarcastically.

    From what I’ve been told, these guys have not yet been accused of violating any laws, and may not have done so.

    What seems to us, as outsiders, as unethical fundraising and favor trading, probably seems to them the cost of doing business in an environment where nobody is clean and the choice is between acting or not acting, not acting cleanly or acting dirty.

    And yes, their supporters will point at all they have accomplished for the community. Click through on the hagiography of Nayak, he has decades of accomplishments for Indian-Americans in Chicagostan. I only gave the puffery at the start, but this guy has been active. I’m sure he feels his accusers are holding him to an unfair standard, one that can’t be upheld if somebody is to get things of great import done.

  19. 21 · portmanteau said

    What — high-flying Hindus maligned again? Surely all those who accuse these pillars of the Indian community are either jealous, pseudosecular, anti-market, sympathizers of Islamic terrorism, or self-hating. To the nit-picking moralists: surely noble ends justify unsavory means?

    I see the sarcasm, but don’t see any of the Hindutvaadis, even “dipshit soft-Hindutvaadis” like myself, coming out of the woodwork to defend these guys. Indian-Americans, who are largely Hindu, don’t reflexively rally around Indians accused of crimes. This is not a swipe against other PoC, just saying we don’t have a relationship with authority that is forever poisoned by pre-Civil Rights aera law enforcement (based on our relatively late arrival on the scene). In any case, shouldn’t you guys on the Left be congratulating this guy? If what they say about this crew is correct they were doing this on the behalf of an African-American candidate. Per V. Prashad don’t we Hindus try to push the Black man down to elevate ourselves in the etes of the White man? This is progress.

  20. 24 · liberal said

    22 · Nayagan said
    Gloating just doesn’t become you, Portmanteau.
    i don’t think she was gloating, as much as engaging in, what we in the commie pandering biz call sarcasm.

    Given that Bedi is probably not a Hindu (because of his being a Sikh and all that), trolling is probably a tad more accurate than sarcasm. This kinda indicated to me that the comments were closed for the Sonal thread, even before I looked at it. Thank god for the Kasab thread .. less reaching to do to roll out the usual arguments ..

    P.S. those who defame the greatest left arm tweaker of 5.5 Oz of leather are jealous, pseudosecular, anti-market, sympathizers of Islamic terrorism, or self-hating wingnuts.

  21. More on Nayak:

    <

    blockquote>He is also the president and owner of the first fully Indian-owned hospital in the US, named appropriately after the motherland, “Hind General Hospital” in Hobart, Indiana. He has recently acquired an old hospital in Aurora, Illinois, which is an over 500,000-square-foot facility, located on 15 acres. This facility is within one mile of the Balaji Temple. Nayak will use the old hospital building, constructed in 1889 as the First Indian Museum in the USA and has obtained a financial commitment of $3.5 million by the State Senate president Emil Jones for the project. Nayak is planning to convert the newer hospital building into a senior retirement home for people of Indian origin —again a first in the United States… In May 2006, Raghu Nayak led a delegation of elite Indian American community and business leaders to Washington DC, and successfully enlisted the support of the highly influential Con-gressional Black Caucus (43 members) and Congres-sional Hispanic Caucus (25 members) to co-sponsor the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Energy Agreement Bill, which today has become a reality in the United States House of Representative. Raghu Nayak mounted one of the most compelling lobbying efforts ever launched by any individual to convince and persuade a large number of powerful ranking lawmakers on the Capitol Hill, including influential Senator Joseph Biden, Barack Obama, Congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr., Danny Davis. Nayak hosted a reception on the Capitol Hill to bring together a legion of lawmakers to showcase the significance of the Indo-US Nuclear Civil Agreement and how it mutually benefits two world’s greatest democracies. [Link]

    <

    blockquote>

  22. 28 · DizzyDesi said

    Given that Bedi is probably not a Hindu (because of his being a Sikh and all that)

    pedantry becomes you, dizzydesi.

  23. 31 · liberal said

    28 · DizzyDesi said
    Given that Bedi is probably not a Hindu (because of his being a Sikh and all that)
    pedantry becomes you, dizzydesi.

    He’s not being pedantic, he was just reminding us that, as Camille put it, the idea that Sikhs are a Hindu sect is one of the most pernicious pieces of misinformation out there. It has lead to all kinds of tragic events and Dizzy is just putting a stop to it

  24. 32 · louiecypher said

    It has lead to all kinds of tragic events and Dizzy is just putting a stop to it

    thank (the hindu) god(s) for dizzy then! :)

  25. 22 · Nayagan said

    this the mother of inapt comparisons.

    it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. it wasn’t a comparison even. and someone pointed out bedi was sikh, but some will contend it’s an indic religion and so for all purposes……. also, nayagan, i don’t really have a reason to gloat. as far as i am concerned, the previous threads have been all about preaching to the choir. i doubt that anyone changed their minds (at least those who commented). anyway, i don’t want to this go OT. please ignore my comment in terms of the factual claims it claims.

    I see the sarcasm, but don’t see any of the Hindutvaadis, even “dipshit soft-Hindutvaadis” like myself, coming out of the woodwork to defend these guys.

    that’s exactly why i thought it was okay to say what i did. no unconnected person would have a stake in personally defending these people.

  26. that’s exactly why i thought it was okay to say what i did. no unconnected person would have a stake in personally defending these people

    I hate it when we fight Port ;-) But it is touching how the Chicago machine involves all ethnic groups, no? Kind of like pre-’92 idyll of interfaith gangs in Mumbai where the only god was Mammon. Between Sudhir Venkatesh & and this surely there is enough stuff to fill the void left by “The Wire”. Baltimore Schmaltimore…

  27. speaking of corrupt politicians, i swear to freaking god, i was just on line about an hour ago for the automated postal machine at my local post office and the guy at the machine was taking forever. about 10 minutes passed and people started asking “whats up?”. 15 minutes, people started cursing. 20 minutes and the guy wouldn’t leave, turn around, or answer. there was no one there to help and the line for a clerk was humongous. the guy was unbelievabley rude even by ny standards

    people were pissed and the lady in front of me turned around and said she saw the guy walk in and he looked like eliot spitzer. the lady behind me said the same thing so i launched into a series of jokes: “he’s probably having credit card problems, maybe he was overcharged for something…well, we got to cut him some slack, he hasn’t had sex in a while”…etc, etc…you had to be there.

    i said this kinda loud not expecting it to actually be spitzer but when he turn around it was obviously freaking him. he looked right at me, since was the only male in line, smiled (it actually appeared he was laughing a bit) and said “i’m sorry”.

    apology accepted eliot. the story was worth the wait.

  28. “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.”

    What sanctimonious drivel!

  29. 36 · Manju said

    speaking of corrupt politicians, i swear to freaking god, i was just on line about an hour ago for the automated postal machine at my local post office

    Manju, this story seems way too far-fetched to be true. I mean, you mingling with the proles at your local post office? And deigning to stand in line for like half an hour? Surely, the financial meltdown hasn’t brought you this low?

  30. What — high-flying Hindus maligned again? Surely all those who accuse these pillars of the Indian community are either jealous, pseudosecular, anti-market, sympathizers of Islamic terrorism, or self-hating. To the nit-picking moralists: surely noble ends justify unsavory means?

    LOL–ok, point taken!!

  31. 38 · Zelig said

    36 · Manju said
    speaking of corrupt politicians, i swear to freaking god, i was just on line about an hour ago for the automated postal machine at my local post office
    Manju, this story seems way too far-fetched to be true. I mean, you mingling with the proles at your local post office? And deigning to stand in line for like half an hour? Surely, the financial meltdown hasn’t brought you this low?

    I believe it. He has a lot of those family holiday cards that give the rundown on the last year to send out. “Bobby is in second year at Haavad, Susie is doing residency at Mass Gen and I paid way too much for gettin my freak on. I wish you a happy and prosperous 2009″

  32. 40 · louiecypher said

    He has a lot of those family holiday cards that give the rundown on the last year to send out.

    well, i guess this is one sector which is still a growth area for the economy even as the rest of the public is in a mental recession.

  33. What is Joe Biden’s involvement? I saw him on TV at the bulls game this week when the scandal broke and he has very close ties to Raghu Nayak, Bhatt and David Wilhelm

  34. 35 · louiecypher said

    But it is touching how the Chicago machine involves all ethnic groups, no? Kind of like pre-’92 idyll of interfaith gangs in Mumbai where the only god was Mammon.

    you know, louiecypher, just yesterday i was talking to a sepia commentator about this (wrt to the Kasab thread). how undisguised naked greed is preferable to this hideous combination of oil, MNCs, religious brainwashing, extremist armies, and arms dealers that is surely diverting our energies and resources away from the things that make humans happy (money, nice homes, health, clean water, decent family lives, a fulfilling freely-chosen job, dignity, recreation for all of us). oh the deadweight loss of it all! a couple weeks ago, my family was driving back from the himalayan foothills. you drive into delhi from parts of UP and uttarakhand. those were ghost towns. smoke billowing from mean little shops, thin people of short stature, no women to be seen, entire towns of haphazard matchstick homes, the only occupations seemed to be factory work, or shop and field labor, impenetrable fog, roads where cyclists would invisbly materialize, where oncoming traffic seemed to come straight at you……point being, these pockets of poverty are so depressing, so cut off in terms of opportunity, so poisoned — i can’t imagine how these places have escaped mass mayhem. i’m not saying happiness isn’t possible there, but for people like, the magnitude of deprivation is high (and these are not even the most poor places in india). anyway, i do not mean to chracterize this as poverty porn, but just an observation about how i think so much energy is being diverted to the wrong causes, and how i feel very powerless in the face of it. but of course, someone can just say, ‘oh you’re a city slicker and you are completely clueless about all this.’ and that’s quite true too. thanks for listening.

  35. Obama looks pretty good at this point, having refused to play ball and thus incurring the wrath of Blago’s f-bombs. The MSM and John McCain have his back, as they make up and out with like Portmanteau and Louiscypher.

    But the problem is if Obama refused to play ball it implies he, or at least someone on his staff, knew ball was being played. Did they report this to Fitz? If so, Obama’s approval rating will skyrocket even further, earnign him more political capital. But if not, we have a Kitty Genovese situation on our hands. I suspect Rahm Emmanuel may go down.

  36. 46 · Manju said

    I suspect Rahm Emmanuel may go down.

    i think that even if rahm was approached, it was not by blago but by some other functionary of his – i think he says that on one of the calls, the only way a deal can be broached is if a friend of blago’s calls a friend of obama’s. too many degrees of separation there for rahm to effectively report anything – he doesn’t know that blago actually did anything wrong, just that somebody claiming to act for blago did, and they wouldn’t have known that blago’s phones were being tapped etc., so it puts him in quite a pickle. still possible he may go down, but if he hasn’t done anything unethical, he’s not going to go out without a fight.

    (fwiw, ambinder reported in his blog that trusted sources say that emmanuel was not the rat.)

  37. Particularly enlightening appreciate it, I presume your audience will probably want even more items similar to this maintain the excellent hard work.