News stories are cropping up faster than we can track them. As context, below are comments from an interview between Gov. Blagojevich and the Daily Southtown Editorial Board in Ocober, 2006, and statements from Kelly's Statement of Economic Interest.
The interview, published October 13, 2006, took place the same week that Blagojevich fundraiser Tony Rezko was indicted for taking kickbacks from firms seeking state business. At one point in the interview, the Editorial Board asked the governor his thoughts about Chris Kelly. Here's the exchange:
In Blagojevich's words
October 13, 2006
Excerpts from Gov. Rod Blagojevich's interview with the Daily Southtown editorial board Thursday afternoon:
Q: Are you confident that Chris Kelly is not going to be indicted?
A: Yeah. Yes. They're two different people, by the way, and it's a different relationship. Chris and I are much closer. Chris is the head of my political campaign. That's someone I talk to a lot more frequently. I'm confident, yes.
Q: What happened five months ago that you had this final, last conversation with Tony Rezko? What was the last conversation and why was it the last one?
A: It was four or five months ago; could have been at an event somewhere that I saw him. It was fine.
Q: Were you starting to distance yourself from him at that point?
A: Not all. I think I need to explain the extent of the relationship. He's not an exclusive friend of mine. He was a supporter of mine. He doesn't have a formal position in our campaign. He never did. He made some recommendations during the transition and during the first year we were building an administration, but for the most part, that's it. I think some of the talk that he's this big adviser is frankly overblown.
It's different with Chris. I'd be shocked. I'm very confident in Chris.
To be fair, Chris Kelly today was not indicted on public corruption charges. The feds allege that Kelly failed to report personal income from gambling, along with personal subsidies from his businesses to cover gambling debts.
Perhaps the governor did not know the extent of Kelly's gambling. After all, why would the governor appoint someone who gambled to this extent as his Special Government Agent to the Illinois Gaming Board, to represent the governor on gambling issues?
The indictment also brings up Kelly's Statement of Economic Interest for 2004 and 2005, filed when he served as Blagojevich's Special Government Agent. Asked to list "the name of any entity from which a gift or gifts … valued singly or in the aggregate in excess of $500, was received during the previous year." Kelly's answer in 2004 and again in 2005 (the year before Rezko was indicted) was, in its entirety: "gifts of personal friendship received by person filing this statement [ie, Kelly] from Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich (person filing this statement provides similar gifts of personal friendship to such individuals)." No other gift givers are mentioned; for 2003 and 2004, this particular gift exchange was limited to three people, two of whom have now been indicted.
The governor has some explaining to do.