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Chicago Way story of the day: Crony job for Farrakhan’s son

By Michelle Malkin  •  November 12, 2009 12:41 PM

This is how they roll in Barack and Michelle Obama’s Chicago. The 26-year-old son of Nation of Islam chieftain Louis Farrakhan gets a $63,000 government job as a “business manager” in C(r)ook County after the Nation of Islam-endorsed C(r)ook County Board president, Todd Stroger, wins his seat.

The local Fox affiliate pressed Stroger on the patronage job, to which Stroger responded: “If you’re asking me if I’m crooked? No.” A C(r)ook County spokesman defended the hire by citing Leonard Muhammad’s 10-year experience in property management. Which would mean he started managing properties at…16 years old.

On October 13 the senior Muhammad joined more than 100 ministers in endorsing Stroger’s bid for re-election, and called on three other African-American candidates to withdraw from the race. In late September Rev. Farrakhan spoke before the same group, Concerned Clergy for a Better Chicagoland, and encouraged the ministers to rally behind a single African-American candidate.

A Cook County spokesperson told Fox Chicago News Muhammad first interviewed for the county job in September. Chris Geovanis said Muhammad had worked in the property management business for several years and was well qualified for the Facilities Management post, which oversees maintenance and repairs at the county’s criminal courts and jail complex. The county would not provide Muhammad’s resume to Fox Chicago News.

Better Government Association Director Andy Shaw said the timing of Muhammad’s appointment is suspicious. “Political endorsements should not be the price you pay to get jobs for your son or grandson,” said Shaw. “He may be a fine young man, but it looks like a political payoff for an endorsement. We, the taxpayers, have to foot the bill.”

On Monday we found Muhammad in his office on the second floor of the criminal courts annex. Muhammad acknowledged his recent hiring by the county, but declined to talk about how he got the job. Calls to the Nation of Islam were not returned.

Here’s vid of the local Fox report (hat tip – Newsalert):

Fun flashback June 2007:

There was little controversy earlier this year when Sen. Barack Obama endorsed Mayor Richard Daley over two black opponents for a sixth term, lending his star power to an inevitable rout.

But Obama’s record of local endorsements — one measure of how he has used his nascent political clout — has drawn criticism from those who say it reflects his deference to Chicago’s established political order and runs counter to his public calls for clean government.

In the 2006 Democratic primary, for example, Obama endorsed first-time candidate Alexi Giannoulias for state treasurer despite reports about loans Giannoulias’ family-owned Broadway Bank made to crime figures. Records show Giannoulias and his family had given more than $10,000 to Obama’s campaign, which banked at Broadway.

Obama endorsed former Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd), calling her “a very early supporter of my campaign.” Tillman was then under fire for her stewardship of the scandal-plagued Harold Washington Cultural Center, where contracts benefited members of her family.

Obama rejected the notion that such endorsements conflict with his promotion of ethics reform in government.

“I have been very proud of my track record as a state legislator and as a U.S. senator in terms of maintaining highly ethical behavior throughout my public life,” he said in a recent interview. “Dorothy Tillman and Alexi Giannoulias were strong supporters of mine. There were no allegations that they had done anything illegal. And it was not a conflict for me to show my support for them.”

Obama supported the re-election of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose administration is embroiled in corruption probes.

And during the race for Cook County Board president, Obama predictably endorsed Todd Stroger over a Republican. But he was criticized for calling Stroger “a good progressive” despite allegations of job-rigging to favor members of Stroger’s 8th Ward organization.

Such moves detract from Obama’s political independence, according to observers such as James Shapiro, state chairman for the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization.

“I don’t think these are principled endorsements, but rather are of political expedience,” he said. “It may be understandable, but it’s not justifiable.”

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Categories: Corruption, Democrats, Feature Story, Race Hustlers, Race relations