Do We Really Believe in Second Chances?

Community activist Bamani Obadele

We talk about second chances. That is, giving ex-offenders a second chance by not holding their jail time against them. Some advocate for the removal of the box that you check on applications asking if you have a record.

This is a political question and one that comes up at election time. Most politicians, if they are running for election, support and agree with second chances. However, that conversation and support usually dwindles after the election is over.

Many of those who have been jailed want to return to their lives, where they can become educated with a skill and move forward to take care of the families they left behind.

Such is the case of Bamani Obadele, a community organizer who worked for former Governor Rod Blagojevich in the Department of Children and Family Services. He ended up serving six months in prison for using state money to buy goods for a company he owned. It was a clear misuse of funds. Obadele made a mistake and he served time for his crime.

Obadele with Cubs legend Andre Dawson
Obadele, who often works political campaigns, was hired by Kwame Raoul in his successful primary race to become Democratic candidate for Illinois Attorney General. But he was taken to task for it. WVON talk radio host Maze Jackson went on a campaign to hurt him.

The Chicago Tribune wrote an editorial about Raoul hiring the ex-offender.–illinois-attorney-general-raoul-20180419-story.html A response from Obadele was printed, but not his full statement.

Interesting book by Randall Kennedy. In the upcoming November elections, there will be a lot of talk with a lot of money on the street to discredit people on both sides.

Responding To His Accuser
Mr. Obadele’s voice needs to be heard in its entirety as he responds to his recent job with Kwame Raoul. This is his full statement:

“The Chicago Tribune has reported opposition research information provided by Maze Jackson, a well-known paid political renegade who is being funded and directed by members of the Illinois GOP to create dissension within the Illinois Democratic Party during one of the most contentious election cycles in the history of Illinois politics.

“Jackson has maintained a vendetta against my political organizing and consulting business since his candidate and former political ally Ken Dunkin was actively supported by Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Dunkin was defeated by a substantial margin in the 2016 Democratic primary for the Illinois 5th District House seat, which is currently held by Illinois Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Juliana Stratton, whose campaign I consulted.

“The Chicago Tribune has endorsed Jackson’s propaganda without acknowledging that Jackson was fired by the Chicago Defender after the publication became aware that he was a paid strategist for the campaign of Ken Dunkin, while also being paid as the Defender’s Political Affairs Editor.

“Jackson received $91,100 to start a political action committee to conduct ‘community outreach’ for former Illinois Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger, which was reported by Rich Miller of Capital (

“Jackson is listed as the vice president and strategist of The Intelligence Group, which is listed as a payee on Munger’s campaign expenditure report. In addition, the address for The Intelligence Group is the same as the Campaign Committee for Friends of Ken Dunkin.

“Currently, Jackson is a morning talk show host for the historical African-American talk radio station WVON 1690-AM. Jackson replaced longtime host Matt McGill last April after Matt’s controversial departure after co-hosting with McGill and serving as a guest host and commentator during and after the 2016 election cycle.

“It has been suggested that Jackson’s ascendancy to hosting the morning slot at WVON was largely related to his ability to attract millions of political advertising dollars from the Illinois GOP for the 2018 primary and general election cycle, which was a relationship the financially struggling ownership and management at WVON actively sought out.

“As recent as Tuesday, April 17, 2018, Jackson stated on his morning talk show that he would be reviewing and revealing the quarterly campaign expenditure reports of Democratic Illinois gubernatorial nominee JB Pritzker. As recent as this morning, Jackson hosted the controversial, former Tea Party Republican, Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, on his radio platform.

“Also, after having served as the campaign field director for former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in 2011, and as a paid consultant for the Obamacare rollout for the Roosevelt Group in 2010, Jackson has been engaged for the last 24-months in a well-financed operation to attack members of the Illinois Democratic Party.

“Jackson’s lobbying relationships with the Roosevelt Group turned sour, which has established him as a credible source to produce critical opposition research on Democratic campaign consultants, as a hired gun of the Illinois GOP.

“Yes, I am an ex-offender. However, I am also a father of four daughters in college and a son in Chicago Public Schools; I am a staunch community advocate (and a progressive Democrat); and a man who has paid his debt to society for actions in his past.

“I appreciate the support and confidence from the candidates in the Democratic Party who have not just talked about advocating on behalf of ex-offenders like me, but also have allowed me to earn a living while proving my character and rebuilding my professional credibility.

“The Chicago Tribune management and editorial staff should be ashamed of itself for allowing their journalistic integrity to be compromised by targeting ex-offenders with biased information that was provided by a paid political consultant the likes of Maze Jackson, who is being portrayed as ‘a confidential source.’

“The political character assassination attempts of Jackson have set a dangerous precedent for a large constituency group like ex-offenders, who need strong Democratic candidates to insure efficient re-entry back into society as we move forward to rebuild our lives.”

WVON talk show host Maze Jackson

That is Bamani Obadele’s full statement. In the upcoming November elections, there will be a lot of talk with a lot of money on the street to discredit people on both sides. Bamani Obadele took a negative hit that he didn’t deserve. My question is, do we or don’t we want to give the ex-offender a second chance? We can’t have it both ways.

Hermene Hartman

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