Chicago NRIs Caught In Scandal of supporting Jackson's bid for the
- Reports the Chicago Tribune:
“Blagojevich made an appearance at an Oct. 31 luncheon meeting
at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg sponsored by Oak Brook
businessman Raghuveer Nayak, a major Blagojevich supporter who
also has fundraising and business ties to the Jackson family,
according to several attendees and public records.
- “Two businessmen who attended the meeting and spoke
to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity said that 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.”
Chicago, Dec. 14, 2008
U.S. prosecutors charged that Illinois Governor Rod
Blagojevich who tried to peddle the post to the highest bidder.
The Chicago Tribune has named 3-4 NRIs from Chicago - for holding
negotiations on behalf of US Representative Jesse Jackson Jr with
Blagojevich over the seat Obama vacated. Read full Story:
Nayak held Jackson fundraising luncheon Saturday
Chicago Tribune | Tribune reporters
9:23 AM CST, December 12, 2008
As Gov. Rod Blagojevich was trying to pick Illinois'
next U.S. senator, businessmen, including Raghuveer Nayak,
with ties to both the governor and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson
Jr. discussed raising at least $1 million for Blagojevich's campaign
as a way to encourage him to pick Jackson for the job, the Tribune
Blagojevich made an appearance at an Oct. 31 luncheon meeting at
the India House restaurant in Schaumburg sponsored by Oak Brook
businessman Nayak, a major Blagojevich supporter who also has fundraising
and business ties to the Jackson family, according to several attendees
and public records.
Two businessmen who attended the meeting and spoke to the Tribune
on the condition of anonymity said that 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
That meeting led to a Blagojevich fundraiser Saturday in Elmhurst,
co-sponsored by Nayak and attended by Jesse Jackson Jr.'s brother,
Jonathan, as well as Blagojevich, according to several people who
were there. Nayak and Jonathan Jackson go back years and the two
even went into business together years ago as part of a land purchase
on the South Side.
Blagojevich and the congressman met to discuss the Senate seat
on Monday, one day before federal prosecutors arrested Blagojevich
and charged him with trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated
by President-elect Barack Obama. As part of the charges, prosecutors
alleged that Blagojevich was considering awarding the seat to a
politician identified as "Senate Candidate 5" because
emissaries for that candidate were promising to raise as much as
$1.5 million for Blagojevich's campaign fund.
The Tribune has identified Jesse Jackson Jr. as "Senate Candidate
5." Jackson has denied knowing anything about efforts by emissaries
or anybody close to him promising to raise money for Blagojevich
in exchange for being appointed to the Senate. He has been contacted
by federal prosecutors as part of the probe and has agreed to meet
Jackson's congressional spokesman Rick Bryant said Thursday that
Nayak is a "family friend and supporter"
of the congressman as well as his well-known father, Rev. Jesse
Jackson. The congressman and Nayak have spoken about Jackson's desire
to succeed Obama.
"He has talked to [Nayak] about the Senate seat and he has
mentioned his interest," Bryant said of his boss. "But
he never asked him to do anything."
Jackson's newly retained attorney, James Montgomery, said Wednesday
he could not rule out that such possibilities were discussed with
Blagojevich by people who did not have his client's blessing.
Despite the parallels, it could not be determined if the actions
outlined by the Tribune were the same as those discussed in the
FBI affidavit that accompanied the pay-to-play charges against Blagojevich
and his chief of staff, John Harris. But the details, gathered from
more than a dozen interviews, make clear that some political operatives
were connecting support for Blagojevich to his choice for the Senate
Iftekhar Shareef, past president of the influential Federation
of Indian Associations, said he attended the Saturday fundraiser
for the governor at the invitation of Bedi and Nayak. Shareef said
the congressman's brother Jonathan also attended.
"Raghu [Nayak] is always talking about how we need to appoint
Jesse to the Senate," Shareef said. "They are very close.
Raghu is close with all the Jacksons. He even asked me to write
a letter to the governor supporting Jesse Jackson for the Senate."
Shareef said he wrote the letter.
A half-dozen other attendees at the two events said they never
heard talk about trying to get Jackson placed into the Senate. Bedi's
brother, Jatinder, who is an editor at the Indian Reporter newspaper,
acknowledged being at the India House event but said "there
was no discussion of the Senate seat."
Rajinder Bedi couldn't be reached for comment.
Reached by telephone at his home, Nayak declined to comment.
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
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
Satish "Sonny" Gabhawala, owner of the Chicago Park Hotel
in Harvey, said he was at the Oct. 31 meeting and saw Nayak and
Rajinder Bedi approach another Blagojevich fundraiser, Babu Patel.
"They were trying to convince Babu to use his influence to
get the governor to appoint Jesse Jackson to the Senate," Gabhawala