TRIBUNE: GOP power broker faces trial in Blagojevich scandal

 

William Cellini’s influence behind the scenes in Illinois politics and government has grown over four decades as he turned contacts and access into contracts and cash with a reach that left some envious and others awed.

 

He has arguably been the most powerful insider in Springfield, whom few taxpayers have even heard of outside the capital.

 

“To some people, a call from Bill was like a call from God,” said Tony Leone, a former Republican consultant and lobbyist who worked for years with Cellini on GOP fundraisers, referring to Cellini’s legendary influence.

 

But next week Cellini will be thrust into the one place he has tried to avoid — the spotlight — as the last scheduled corruption trial of a major player arising from the scandal that brought down former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and many of his top aides gets under way in Chicago.

 

Over 26 consecutive years of rule by Republican governors, the prominent GOP fundraiser had amassed significant sway at state government agencies, federal prosecutors said. But with Democrat Blagojevich’s election in 2002, Cellini faced the threat of waning influence, they contended.

 

Read More: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-cellini-trial-0925-20110924,0,849527.story

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