Ali Ata, a man who raised money for the governor's campaign told the court Thursday about conversations he had with the governor and Rezko about contributing his own money in exchange for a state job. Ata eventually became the executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority in the Blagojevich administration.
More disturbing testimony Thursday afternoon about the first 18 months of the first Rod Blagojevich administration: the former Illinois Finance Authority director testified, describing a government virtually for sale.
The small building at 853 N. Elston Avenue, where the offices of Rezmar Corporation are located, was a kind of "shadow state capitol" during the early years of the Blagojevich administration, according to former Illinois Finance Authority Director Ali Ata, who is testifying against Rezmar's owner, campaign fundraiser Tony Rezko.
Ata, who has pleaded guilty to tax fraud and lying to the FBI in a separate case, told the jury that at the Elston office Rezko raised money for the governor, hired and fired state employees, and controlled at least four state agencies or boards. They include the Illinois Housing Development Corporation, employment security, Ata's finance authority and the health facilities planning board.
Ata repeated his claim that he bought his IFA job with $50,000 in campaign contributions: $25,000 when the met the governor at Rezko's office before the 2002 election and another $25,000 in 2003. Ata testified the governor "knew I was considering a position in the new administration and he said there would be a job where I could make some money."
Rezko is charged with trying to extort kickbacks from companies trying to do business with state boards he allegedly controlled.
Ata, who testified in return for a lesser sentence, was charged in a separate case alleging that he and Rezko filed a false application for a business loan.
Last week the testimony was previewed during a hearing on a motion. The governor's office denied his charges, a spokeswoman saying that state jobs are not handed out based on campaign contributions.
Ata will return to the witness stand for cross-examination Friday.