[Guest post by DRJ]
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced today the indictments and arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff on federal corruption charges based on what Fitzgerald described as a political corruption crime spree:
“Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Tuesday on charges he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder in what a federal prosecutor called a “corruption crime spree.”
After the Presidential election, Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett was reported to be the person Obama wanted to replace him in the Senate. Just under a month ago, she removed her name from contention and was named as a White House senior adviser.
The indictments resulted in part from wiretaps on Blagojevich’s home phone that Fitzgerald said were authorized over a month ago.
The counts reportedly include allegations that Blagojevich conditioned state aid to the Chicago Tribune on its firing of editor(s) who opposed the Blagojevich Administration, and threatened to pull an $8M grant to a children’s hospital if the director failed to make a $50K contribution to Blagojevich’s campaign.
In a press conference this morning, Fitzgerald suggested that some witnesses were cooperating but urged others who may have been approached – possibly dozens or more – to come forward and talk to authorities.
The Chicago FBI agent-in-charge also made a brief statement at the Fitzgerald press conference. He said he didn’t know if Illinois was more corrupt than any other state but that it was “one hell of a competitor.”
Scott Jacobs posted on this earlier and has more at The Jury Talks Back.
UPDATE 1: The Real Barack Obama has a video round-up.
UPDATE 2: In the comments, daleyrocks points out that I failed to note Blagojevich’s Party affiliation. Governor Blagojevich is a Democrat.