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New break in Obama Illinois Senate seat sale scandal

December 22, 2008 | 12:00 am

Democrats Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr and president-elect Barack Obama

A mysterious "Individual D" in the ongoing Illinois political scandal to auction off President-elect Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat has now been identified as Raghuveer Nayak, a millionaire Chicago-area Indian businessman whose voice turned up on FBI wiretaps and bugs of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Nayak is "Individual D" in the criminal complaint outlining the case against the governor, according to a story in Monday's Chicago Tribune. Nayak is heard on the tapes being squeezed by Blagojevich to raise campaign money in return for naming Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to Obama's vacant seat.

Nayak, one of a savvy band of local moneymen who help fund the state's Democratic political machine, is now reportedly negotiating with federal prosecutors for immunity in return for his testimony.

The 54-year-old, who made his fortune in various medical businesses, was questioned by authorities the same day that Blagojevich was arrested. Nayak has not been charged with anything.

Also due out today or Tuesday is Obama's staff report on its contacts with the governor over the Senate vacancy, a report that was reportedly completed a week ago but held back at the request of U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, according to Obama, who has said there was no impropriety.

Previously, the Tribune has reported that Nayak held an Oct. 31 fundraiser for Blagojevich where he discussed raising $1 million for the governor in return for the Jackson nomination. And Jackson's brother Jonathan was at another Blagojevich fundraiser 72 hours before the governor's arrest.

Congressman Jackson has said he discussed his desire for the Senate seat with Nayak, but denies any knowledge of fundraising to benefit that bid.

Another Illinois fixer and fundraiser, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who helped Blagojevich and Obama, has already been convicted on 16 federal counts and is reported cooperating with the FBI in hopes of a more lenient prison sentence.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Getty Images (Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. campaigns with Obama).