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Time For Some Hard Questions

John McCain needed a break, and he may have just gotten one. Larry Walsh, poker buddy and close political confidante of Barack Obama, was raided by the FBI. So reports this paper. This is not just a guy in Obama’s neighborhood, as one report details:

Mr. Walsh, who served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2005, was endorsed by Mr. Obama in his county executive election bid. With the support of some of Mr. Obama’s U.S. Senate volunteers, he easily defeated incumbent Republican Joseph Mikan. A corn farmer from Joliet, Mr. Walsh has supported his friend’s presidential bid, and campaigned for him in rural and farming areas of the state. They are seen hugging each other in photos before Mr. Obama’s announcement that he was running for president. . . . The two men became tight friends during their tenure in the Illinois Senate and bonded over games of poker. According to a report in Time magazine, Mr. Walsh lost to Mr. Obama once with what he thought was a winning hand, and then slammed down his cards and said: “Doggone it, Barack, if you were more liberal in your card-playing and more conservative in your politics, you and I would get along much better.”

And Mr. Walsh’s County got his share of guess what — federal grants ( that would be “earmarks” I assume) which seem to be at the heart of the matter :

Will County auditor Steve Weber confirmed that his office had been asked by the FBI to assist in an investigation, but he did not elaborate on the specifics. Two FBI agents out of Chicago reportedly spent more than an hour in the Will County offices on Wednesday morning. According to sources, the Walsh investigation may be tied to lobbying firm Smith Dawson and Andrews, which was hired in 2006 for $10,000 per month to help Will County acquire federal grants. The firm, which is registered with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, assists clients with communications and legislative strategies that better their public policy agendas, according to its Web site. Last month, Mr. Walsh announced that Will County was the recipient of a $750,000 federal government grant that would allow law enforcement and prosecutors to fight against domestic violence. One of the firm’s partners, James P. Smith, contributed $2,000 to help Mr. Walsh’s county executive election bid.

And Barack Obama? Well he sure got a lot of earmarks in there for Will County, although we do not know whether these are the immediate concern of or related in any way to the investigation. In Obama’s earmark disclosure you will find:

In 2006, Obama requested that Will County receive $1.3 million to support its Flood Studies for Unincorporated Will County.

In 2006, Obama requested $800,000 for the Will County Sheriff’s Office Wireless Communications Technology Upgrades.

In 2006, Obama requested $1,953,331 for Will County’s Ridgewood Water and Sewage Project.

In 2005, Obama requested $2 million for the Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, to establish a Center for Academic and Community Learning, which is designed to address the significant educational needs of the less advantaged in the Will County region by providing academic assistance not only for students on campus but also for residents of the surrounding communities.

Another reference appears to relate to the Will County Health Department’s mental health program which I am informed got another $1.95 million.

So let’s review: Obama’s sponsor and friend Tony Rezko is going to jail, the Governor of his state whom he supported is going to be indicted and his close confident — for whom Obama got millions in earmarks — is under FBI investigation. Do you think this should be front page news in every mainstream paper? Should we have a feeding frenzy on the stump today as the press demands answers?

Let us find out just how curious the media can be. More important, let’s see if McCain and/or his running mate finally will call out their opponent and ask a tough question: Is this the guy who we want to reform Washington?


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