How gambling seed money elected and controlled an impeached Gov Rod Blagojevich

I suppose people have come to expect a certain degree of corrupt political behavior from the Chicago Political Machine, but few realize just how much influence gambling has on Chicago corruptions.  The Sun Times does a great job connecting the dots by explaining Blagojevich’s connection to a man named Chris Kelly:

Kelly had been finance director of Blagojevich’s successful campaign — the main man helping raise the money that allowed the then-Northwest Side congressman to end a quarter century of Republican control of the governor’s office.

In the early days, Blagojevich made Kelly an unpaid adviser in his administration, his influence so blatant that legislators made him file an official economic-disclosure statement as a “special government agent.”

So Chris Kelly was seen as the man who raised the money that elected Blagojevich and then influenced his policy.  Blogojevich officially assigned Kelly to advise on gambling and The Kansas City Star reported that Kelly was later charged with gambling related fraud:

The federal indictment says Christopher G. Kelly, 49, placed millions of dollars in wagers with a bookie in Chicago and casinos in Las Vegas, then paid the debts out of corporate funds from his business, portraying the payments as legitimate business expenses. He also is accused of hiding $1.3 million in taxable income.

The Sun Times further explained:

The man Blagojevich entrusted to represent him on gambling issues was a high-roller in hock to a mob bookie…In the two years he filed public ethics statements, Kelly disclosed receiving unspecified “gifts of personal friendship” from Rezko and Blagojevich and said he’d provided them “similar gifts of personal friendship” as well.

Add to that the fact that Blagojevich himself was an alleged bookie and received political contributions directly from Illinois casinos, and the influence of gambling becomes crystal clear.  Too often people say that gambling doesn’t hurt anybody, and as long as they don’t go gamble, they are not being influenced.  But gambling can corrupt the very people who influence our lives on a daily basis – no one is immune from its impact.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH

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