Send in the clowns: Chicago’s three-ring political circus

Chicago politics is such an intoxicating mix of cronyism, corruption, and cupidity that it sometimes makes Washington infighting seem as exciting an AA meeting. Grab a snow cone for the latest high-wire acts in the three-ring circus known as the Windy City:

Ring 1: Rahm and Harry know what happened, Blago tells Geraldo

Convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tells Fox’s Geraldo Rivera that former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, now attempting to run for mayor despite stiff opposition from his tenant (see below) is a “central figure” in Blago’s upcoming retrial on corruption charges.

Geraldo: “You’re saying you and Rahm had a deal the day before the election?”

Blago: “Rahm is going to be a central witness in this case…we’d like to call Harry Reid…he can explain, but as this deal was about to happen, prosecutors came in and arrested me.”

Ring 2: Meanwhile, Rahm’s tenant mulls a mayoral race – against him

The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass reports that Rahm’s tenant is thinking about running for mayor too. What a coincidence!

Rob Halpin, who’s renting Emanuel’s North Side home, refused to move out when Rahmbo said pretty please (which Washingtonians all know is his favorite expression), leaving the former White House aide with an unresolved residency problem.

Fox News Chicago quotes election law attorney Burt Odelson: “I’ve tried hundreds of residency cases. You have to maintain the intent to be here and you have to have the physical presence here. You have to be here one year, you have to show you’ve been here one year, and the only exception is for our servicemen and servicewomen who go overseas.”

Halpin, who claims that running for mayor was not even his idea, needs 12,500 valid signatures on a nominating petition, which must be filed by Nov. 22. Rahm, on the other hand, needs to prove that he’s maintained a “physical presence” in Chicago during the last year despite the fact that he’s been in Washington and Halpin has been living in his house. Guess who has the easier task ahead?

Ring 3: Blago’s ‘Sikh warrior’ arrested for shoplifting at Home Depot

Then there’s Rajinder Bedi, the former head of Blago’s economic development team, who’s been described in a Chicago blog as “one of the three main players in the Blagojevich U.S. Senate Seat Pay-to-Play Scheme.”

Bedi testified at Blago’s first trial – out of earshot of the jurors – that he and another Indian businessman met Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., at a Loop restaurant shortly before the Nov. 2008 election, where they discussed raising $1 million for Blago if he appointed Jackson to President Obama’s former Senate seat.

Bedi was recently arrested for shoplifting at Home Depot. The news reports don’t say which items Bedi allegedly lifted from the store, but would anybody be surprised if they included a roll of duct tape?

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