Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Illinois Governor Tries to Sell Obama's Senate Seat

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was awakened on Tuesday morning by the knocks of FBI agents. He was arrested on charges of conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a U.S. senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama's election as president.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired. Blagojevich also was charged with using his authority as governor in an attempt to squeeze out campaign contributions, prosecutors said.

Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris, also was arrested.

Blagojevich was released on $4,500 bail. And he had to surrender his passport.

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U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declared Tuesday a "sad day for government." The government had bugged the governor's campaign office and placed a tap on his home phone.

Fitzgerald also said, "Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a new low. This conduct would make [Abraham] Lincoln roll over in his grave."

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President-elect Barack Obama claims that he had no knowledge of what was going on and had not had any contact with the governor or the governor's office. He said, "Obviously, like the rest of the people of Illinois, I am saddened and sobered by the news that came out of the U.S. attorney's office today. But as this is an ongoing investigation involving the governor, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on the issue at this time."

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The Two Counts in the Federal Indictment
Count One

From in or about 2002 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants did, conspire with each other and with others to devise and participate in a scheme to defraud the State of Illinois and the people of the State of Illinois of the honest services of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, in furtherance of which the mails and interstate wire communications would be used, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341,1343, and 1346; all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1349.

Count Two

Beginning no later than November 2008 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, being agents of the State of Illinois, a State government which during a one-year period, beginning January 1, 2008 and continuing to the present, received federal benefits in excess of $10,000, corruptly solicited and demanded a thing of value, namely, the firing of certain Chicago Tribune editorial members responsible for widely-circulated editorials critical of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with business and transactions of the State of Illinois involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more, namely, the provision of millions of dollars in financial assistance by the State of Illinois, including through the Illinois Finance Authority, an agency of the State of Illinois, to the Tribune Company involving the Wrigley Field baseball stadium; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666(a)(1)(B) and 2.

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Quotes from the Indictment
WARNING: there is some vulgar language
  • In regards to the Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”

  • On November 3, 2008 [the day prior to the General Election], ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Deputy Governor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Deputy Governor A that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open Senate seat, then ROD BLAGOJEVICH will take the Senate seat himself: “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.”

  • During the call [also on November 3rd], ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, “unless I get something real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH later stated, “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I’m saying. And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.” Later, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that the Senate seat “is a fucking valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

  • On November 4, 2008 [on Election Day], ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with JOHN HARRIS regarding the potential vacant Senate seat. Later ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he will make a decision on the Senate seat “in good faith . . . but it is not coming for free. . . .It’s got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states “[President-elect], you want it? Fine. But, its got to be good or I could always take [the Senate seat].”

  • On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Deputy Governor A regarding positions that ROD BLAGOJEVICH might be able to obtain in exchange for the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat. Among the potential positions discussed were Secretary of Health and Human Services and various ambassadorships. Deputy Governor A noted that the cabinet position of Secretary of the Energy is “the one that makes the most money.” Deputy Governor A stated that it is hard not to give the Secretary of Energy position to a Texan, but with ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s coal background it might be a possibility.

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    Read and download the entire 79-page pdf of federal indictment here.

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    plez sez: this story reeks to high heaven. and this has to rank up there as one of the LAST THINGS that PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA would like to address as he prepares to transition to the white house in a couple of weeks.

    i've read the indictment and it doesn't appear that Obama is implicated in any way, shape, or form, BUT the taint of having his senate seat being bartered like a stud fee by the democratic governor of his state. it just so happens that when blagojevich was elected governor of illinois, Obama's chief of staff rahm emmanuel took his spot in the house of representatives. tony resko's name shows up in the indictment; recall that resko was a big contributor to Obama's first campaigns in chicago and brokered the deal for Obama's house in chicago, as well. and Obama's key advisor valerie jarrett is believed to be one of the senate candidate names that was being bandied about by the governor!

    no matter how clean his hands, there is undoubtedly going to be some blowback on Obama from this entire sordid affair. if any of Obama's minions are even remotely connected to the blagojevich corruption, they should be front and center with this information by the morning news cycle on wednesday!

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    Read and download the entire 79-page pdf of federal indictment here.

    Read the Chicago Tribune articles about the arrest of Rod Blagojevich here and here.

    Read the Chicago Tribune article about Jesse Jackson, Jr. and the Senate seat audition.

    Read the New York Times article about Blagojevich indictment.

    Read the New York Times article about how Obama call indirectly led to Blagojevich investigation.

    Read the article about who is Rod Blagojevich.

    Read the article about the Blagojevich indictment.

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