Rezko Buddy Plans Iraqi Parliament Run

By Steve Bryant
|  Saturday, Dec 12, 2009  |  Updated 9:30 AM CDT
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How do you say "corruption" in Arabic?

A college pal of Tony Rezko who was accused of embezzlement, jailed in Iraq's Green Zone, and then escaped from prison and fled to Jordan is now running for a seat in Iraq's parliament, reports USA Today.

Aiham Alsammarae, a dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen who attended the Illinois Institute of Technology with Rezko -- and who helped raise part of Rezko's $8.5 million bail -- was appointed to run the electricity ministry in 2003 after Saddam Hussein's ouster.

During his tenure, a Rezko-owned company won a $50 million contract from Alsammarae's ministry. The deal was later voided.

Alsammarae was later accused of embezzling $1 billion, sent to prison in the heavily fortified Green Zone in 2006, escaped, and was convicted in absentia to 21 years. That conviction was later tossed out on appeal.

Now Alsammarae's campaigning from Amman and doesn't dare return to Baghdad lest the government change its mind again and toss him back in the click.

"We have to do it the Obama way," Alsammarae told USA Today (Alsammarae donated to Obama's campaign six times in '08, but the camapign gave the money to charity.) "We are trying to send a message of change. We will clean up the system."

His strategy so far: paying college students to "improve" his reputation on blogs.

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