Thursday, December 11, 2008

#$500,000: Bribing Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Corruption is a well-documented problem in India. However, with the growing number of Indians in the United States corruption has become a part of the Indian diaspora as well.

A recent FBI criminal complaint against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich details the many ways the governor has sought to personally gain from his tenure in public office. The charges include accepting monetary quid pro quo deals for state highway contracts; helping the Tribune company with the sale of Wrigley Field in exchange for a makeover of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board, and of course money for President Elect Obama's former Senate seat.

See, while publications like India Abroad would like us to believe that an Indian girl named Lakshmi from Baton Rouge winning a 7th grade science fair, or a medical student named Rajesh running a half marathon in Seattle, are really important news for our community, in reality they ain't no thing. So when India Abroad does a massive story in a recent issue about the "KEY INDIAN FIGURES WHO FACTORED IN THE OBAMA VICTORY," it's good to know that Indians are all over Democratic politics in Illinois like white on...on...what's that analogy...right, the inside of a coconut. As much as Indians like doing yoga to increase their flexibility so they can pat themselves on the back for getting in early on that Obama gravy train, they also like bringing that Gujurat Gangsta Lean from Ahmdebad and bribing Rod Blagojevich.

According to the Chicago Tribune's fancy interactive Timeline of Corruption, Gov. Blagojevich's wife, Patricia, a real estate broker, received more than $113,000 in real estate commissions through a woman who had a no-bid state contract with Illinois and whose husband was a major Blagojevich fundraiser. That woman and her husband's name? Anita and Amrish Mahajan. Their crime? Anita billed the state of Illinois for more than $2 million in services her drug-screening firm never performed. Amrish, of course, was the driving force behind the company and helped raise more than $500,000 for Blagojevich in 2001.

A month later, the Tribune reported a close friend of Amrish, Amrit Patel, hosted a fundraiser for Blagojevich and was involved in a real estate deal with Blagojevich's wife while he was seeking to expand his Dunkin' Donuts franchise into the state's highway oases.

There was a joke about Blagojevich when I was in school in Chicago. At an India Day rally on Devon Ave he apparently stood before a crowd and said, "To all the Indians in Illinois, I say welcome to America!" Thanks, G-Rod. We came; we saw; we corrupted.