Former Illinois Finance Authority Chief, Ali Ata, Testifies that He Got Post in Exchange for $25,000 Contribution to Rod Blagojevich

Ali Ata, a Rezko associate and the former head of the Illinois Finance Authority, has repeated his claim from Rezko’s 2008 trial that he was named to his post after giving campaign contributions to former Gov.

Rod Blagojevich.

Wearing a gray sports coat and an open collared shirt, Ata, 58, said he showed up at Rezko’s real estate office with a $25,000 check in August 2002 and met Rezko, Blagojevich, fundraiser Christopher Kelly and legislator Jay Hoffman.

“Mr. Rezko indicated that I continued to be a team player,” Ata said. “And I had expressed interest in joining the administration.”

Rezko then put Ata’s $25,000 check on the table in front of Blagojevich.

Shortly after he took office as chief of the Illinois Finance Authority, Ali Ata said fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko -- who had recommended Ata for the job in the first place -- came to Ata to have the IFA refinance his restaurant businesses.

Ata testified that Rezko was seeking $16 million. Ata said he was concerned about IFA’s image in dealing with the fundraiser and his personal business. It would hurt the agency’s reputation, Ata said he told his political patron.

As far as the publicity, Rezko said he would get the governor’s office to approve it, and as far as the board goes, “we put ’em there.”

Ali Ata has testified that if he didn't donate money to Blagojevich's campaign, he felt "chances are" he wouldn't get a job in the administration. Ata had been a longtime supporter of Blagojevich's and continued to give, including two checks totaling $50,000 in 2002 and 2003.

At a fundraising event at Navy Pier in 2003, Ata says, the ex-governor thanked him for his support, said he understood Ata was considering a state job and told him "it better be a job where you make some money." A few months later, Ata became executive director of the newly-created Illinois Finance Authority, taking his orders, he says, from now-convicted Blagojevich fundraiser Tony Rezko.