Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SEIU's Balanoff contradicts Obama's story on negotiations with Blago over Senate seat

"So I owe those unions. When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away." Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope.

The biggest and baddest--in the classical sense--of those unions is SEIU, one of the most corrosive forces in American politics.

And yes, Obama takes Tom Balanoff's call. He's the president of SEIU Illinois, and Balanoff testified this afternoon at the corruption trial of another Illinois politician he was close with--Rod Blagojevich. The Chicago Sun-Times recounts his testimony:

Top union leader Thomas Balanoff said he was at dinner the night before the November Presidential election when he got a call that was blocked.

So he didn't take it.

Later he listened to his messages: "I walked outside, listened to it and it was from President Obama," Balanoff said.

"Tom, this is Barack, give me a call," the soon-to-be President-Elect said on the message.

After Balanoff sent word through an Obama aide to call him back, Obama returned his call later that night.

"Tom, I want to talk to you with regard to the Senate seat," Obama told him.
Balanoff went on to testifty that he acted as a go-between between the Blago and Obama camps.

Which counteracts what Obama said shortly after the hair-brained one's arrest:

I have never spoken to the governor on this subject. I'm confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat.
He didn't speak to Blago because he had Balanoff--you know, the guy he calls back right away, acting as a buffer. Yeah, a buffer, just like in The Godfather, Part II.

The inimitable Doug Ross has a lot more on this sordid subject.

Balanoff is a scion of a family active in Democratic politics and union affairs on Chicago's Southeast Side and Northwest Indiana.

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