ABC News Sat on Blago Bookie Mob Charge for Years

December 18th, 2008 12:15 PM

ABC News is reporting that an attorney that did undercover work for the FBI in the 1980's told federal authorities decades ago that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich ran an illegal gambling operation and payed the mob a street tax in order to operate. (see update below)

Former mob lawyer and Chicago cop Robert Cooley was so credible as an FBI informant that his work netted 24 corrupt judges, lawyers and cops in operation Gambat. Yet ABC news elected not to report the story during Blagojevich's 2006 re-election campaign because Cooley wanted to remain anonymous and the Governor denied the allegation.

"When I was working with government wearing wire, I reported, I observed Rod, the present governor, who was running a gambling operation out in the western suburbs. He was paying street tax to the mob out there," said Robert Cooley, federal informant.
On a web-based interview show last week, Cooley said he reported to federal authorities nearly two decades ago that Rod Blagojevich had been operating an illegal sports gambling business.
Robert Cooley is a former Chicago police officer-turned mob lawyer-turned federal informant. During Operation Gambat in the late 1980's and early 1990's, Cooley's undercover work and testimony put away 24 crooked politicians, judges, lawyers and cops. Several years ago, when Mr. Blagojevich was running for re-election, Cooley provided the same information to the ABC7 I-Team. Because Cooley did not want to be identified at the time and the governor denied it, ABC7 did not report the story.

I'd like to see a show of hands of people that believe the media would have sat on this story if the person being fingered was a Republican.

This is the same ABC affiliate whose attorney's worked overtime in 2004 to force the California courts to unseal the divorce records of Illinois Republican Jack Ryan when he was running against Barack Obama for the Illinois Senate seat. The efforts of the press successfully embarrassed the Republican and damaged his campaign to the point where he dropped out of the race. Yet charges of corruption tying a sitting Governor to the Illinois mob were brushed aside by Chicago's local ABC affiliate because the Governor denied it and the whistle blower wouldn't reveal his identity.

Another low note in the annals of investigative reporting.

Update: There is a fine line between working for the mob and paying the mob a street tax to operate an illegal gambling operation. I updated the story to note that difference although I am not sure which is worse.

Terry Trippany is the publisher of Webloggin and holds the post as The Watcher at Watcher of Weasels.