The Jury Talks Back

12/9/2008

Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrested

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 9:24 am

There was a time not too long ago here in Illinois that every single former governor was either serving time or had served time.  In the spirit of keeping that grand tradition alive:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents for what U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald called a “staggering” level of corruption involving pay-to-play politics in Illinois’ top office.

Holy Hannah.  In addition to your normal political graft – trading official action for campaign contributions – it seems that Roddy was contemplating the financial and political benefits he and his wife could recieve from potential candidates for Obama’s Senate seat.

Like a lot of states, the Gov. has absolute authority on who to name to a vacant seat.  Our General Assembly has absolutely zero input.

Prosecutors alleged Blagojevich sought appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services, secretary of the Energy Department or gain an ambassadorship in the new Obama administration, or get a lucrative job with a union in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate. An Obama spokesman had no immediate comment.

In addition to this – for which there are apparently recordings of conversations – there’s the Governor’s attempts to pile in $2.5 million before changes to campaign laws in Illinois would make it too tough, using a favors list of people who have state contracts or get tax benefits.  And then there are corruption allegations involving some road work projects.  Did you think I was faking my astonishment, people?

Even Blagojevich’s recently announced $1.8 billion plan for new interchanges and “green lanes” on the Illinois Tollway was subject to corruption, prosecutors alleged. The criminal complaint alleges Blagojevich expected an unnamed highway concrete contractor to raise a half-million dollars for his campaign fund in exchange for state money for the tollway project. “If they don’t perform, (expletive) ’em,” Blagojevich said, according to the complaint.

And then we have a slight tie-in with the Tribune bankruptcy issue, due to allegations that Roddy tried to pressure the Chicago paper to fire editorial board members for writing pieces critical of him, in exchange for help with the sale of Wrigley Field.

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

22 Comments

  1. Like Flounder from “Animal House” “This is GREAT!”
    He actually called Obama a “motherf*&*r”
    I’m listening to the live press conference right now and the amount and quality of the evidence they have is astounding. Knowing he was under investigation Blago boldly went about trying to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat! Unbelievably stupid and arrogant. Chicago/Illinois politics at its worst.

    Comment by J. Raymond Wright — 12/9/2008 @ 9:47 am

  2. This is why they make trakfones, people… DOn’t use the home or office phone to sell favors…

    Comment by Scott Jacobs — 12/9/2008 @ 9:49 am

  3. Hot-Rod should have invested in a bunch of pre-paids. I’m confident that someone on his staff could have found a “consultant” to advise them on the where’s and how’s of making deals on pre-paid cell-phones to avoid gov’t wiretaps.

    Comment by Another Drew — 12/9/2008 @ 9:53 am

  4. Another Drew, you know, I just don’t think this governor was that smart.

    I love how most of the news reports fail to mention his political party, and some even mention how democrats are concerned with fighting corruption.

    I doubt that Obama would pardon this guy. So if Blagovich knows anything incriminating about Obama or any other major Chicago players, it might come out as a result of this.

    Comment by Juan — 12/9/2008 @ 10:00 am

  5. Blago is re-defining hubris with these latest actions. Even for Chicago, this is bold. Here is what he said yesterday, about a news story revealing that he was being taped:

    “I don’t believe there’s any cloud that hangs over me, I think there’s nothing but sunshine hanging over me.

    I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly and notoriously, and those who feel like they want to sneakily and wear taping devices, I would remind them that it kind of smells like Nixon and Watergate.”

    Yes it does Governor. Selling a US Senate seat for half-a-million dollars and telling the local paper who to fire in order to facilitate their business dealings is just as arrogant as breaking-and-entering.

    Just off the top of my head – Hired Trucks, Dan Rostenkowsi, Pat Marcy, jailed Governors Ryan and Walker, Operation Silver Shovel … This city and county never fail to disappoint.

    I wonder if anyone in the local news will notice that Blago’s co-defendant, John Harris, was Mayor Daley’s ex-aviation and transportation guy, then promoted to Budget Director, who then resigned during the Hired Trucks scandal. I’m sure he didn’t do anything illegal or corrupt in any of those jobs, just this latest thing with the Governor.

    Comment by carlitos — 12/9/2008 @ 11:09 am

  6. Oh, I forgot to mention that he shook down the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital for $50K kickback in campaign contributions. When the guy didn’t donate, he tried to pull $8 million in funding. From a Children’s Hospital. Stay classy, Rod!

    Comment by carlitos — 12/9/2008 @ 11:14 am

  7. I think there’s nothing but sunshine hanging over me.

    *snickers*

    Brother, that ain’t sunshine…

    Comment by Scott Jacobs — 12/9/2008 @ 11:31 am

  8. The most entertaining part of this, to me, is the fact that Rasmussen’s most recent poll (from October) showed Gov. Blagojevich with a 4% approval rating.

    I haven’t been able to find the report itself, just summaries, but I’m really hoping that turns out to have been within the margin of error.

    Comment by aphrael — 12/9/2008 @ 12:03 pm

  9. Anyone remember Gary Hart telling the press to go ahead and follow him (to the Monkey Business)? Sounds just like the hubris of Gov. Blogo.

    Anyone wishing to donate a soap on the rope to the departing Gov?

    Comment by PCD — 12/9/2008 @ 12:30 pm

  10. How long will Fitzgerald last after Inauguration Day?

    Comment by DRJ — 12/9/2008 @ 12:58 pm

  11. Are you asking that time-frame in days, or the more accurate “hours”?

    I dunno. Letting him go would be even more blatantly political than the Bush Administration’s troubles…

    Comment by Scott Jacobs — 12/9/2008 @ 1:05 pm

  12. 11, but very Clintonesq! Remember how Billy Bl__job couldn’t wait to can the prosecutors after him for his Arkansas shenanagans?

    Comment by PCD — 12/9/2008 @ 1:33 pm

  13. This type of thing really is quite rare outside of New Jersey.

    I heard NPRs blurb on it on my way home, immediately followed with equal time by a report about Larry Craig not resigning his senate seat and not being able to get his guilty plea withdrawn. No mention of what Craig did wrong.

    They were so smooth that for a moment even I had the desired reaction – they are all equally corrupt!

    Comment by Amphipolis — 12/9/2008 @ 3:02 pm

  14. It would be nice if Jesse Jackson Jr was candidate #5 who agreed to pay the bribe.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 12/9/2008 @ 3:19 pm

  15. Well, Larry Craig doesn’t need to resign now, unless he has some trace of party loyalty and wishes to give his replacement some edge on seniority.
    Come 6 Jan, there’s going to be a new Jr. Senator from Idaho, and a new Sr. Senator, too.

    Comment by Another Drew — 12/9/2008 @ 3:21 pm

  16. Wasn’t there another governor who was accused of abuse of power? I seem to recall endless stories about it.

    Oh, that was right before the election.

    Comment by Amphipolis — 12/9/2008 @ 4:36 pm

  17. You have got to see this. Illinois congressional leaders want to pass a bill to take away the governor’s power to appoint senators to open seats –

    “I will call the Senate back to session to pass legislation that would create a special election,” Mr. Jones said in his statement. Doing so will “help restore the confidence of the people of Illinois during this difficult time.”

    Yeah, sure. The nice little bill will take effect right after the precious Governor signs it in his cell. Not. He is the governor. He can easily delay it enough to make his own appointment.

    Funny how the article does not mention this little bit of information, or the mad desperation of the legislators that their act implies by making far-reaching succession changes they know won’t stick. Duh.

    Comment by Amphipolis — 12/9/2008 @ 5:05 pm

  18. It would be even nicer if Jesse Jr. got the money from his brothers’ Budweiser distributorship ‘shakedown’ money. Jesse would have bought himself a Senator, some 20 years removed from his primary run. Hope and Change!

    Comment by carlitos — 12/9/2008 @ 8:56 pm

  19. Were Govs Edgar and Thomson jailed?

    Comment by JD — 12/10/2008 @ 5:16 pm

  20. Edgar – clean as a whistle.
    Thompson – clean, by Illinois standards. No jail.

    Comment by carlitos — 12/11/2008 @ 11:16 am

  21. clean, by Illinois standards.

    Which sure ain’t saying much…

    Comment by Scott Jacobs — 12/11/2008 @ 2:53 pm

  22. […] Scott Jacobs posted on this earlier and has more at The Jury Talks Back. […]

    Pingback by Patterico’s Pontifications » State of Corruption — 7/21/2009 @ 10:54 pm

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