Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Arrested Trying To Sell A Senate Seat


We often talk about the endemic political corruption in Louisiana and how the national Republican Party is an organized crime syndicate. Bush's compact with Republican members of Congress in 2000 was basically, "steal all you can, don't embarrass me and leave the government and the really big stuff for me." All that's true, but like we always said, corruption is nonpartisan, or, rather, bipartisan. Rahm Emanuel is certainly as corrupt as Tom Delay; there never has been any difference. And Illinois political corruption is no less heinous than the Louisiana flavor. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich-- that state's first Democratic governor in more than a generation-- won office by running as an anti-corruption reformer. That turned out to be a big joke-- on the citizens of Illinois-- really fast. The full affidavit is here. He was taken into custody today.
[L]ittle more than a year after replacing George Ryan in office in 2003, Blagojevich found his administration at the early stages of what became a host of state and federal investigations into allegations of wrongdoing involving state hiring, board appointments, contracting and fundraising that battered his tenure.

In their prosecution of Blagojevich fundraisers and allies, dubbed "Operation Board Games," federal prosecutors detailed a scheme that began only months after Blagojevich took office in which top fundraiser and adviser Antoin "Tony" Rezko conspired with longtime GOP government apparatchik Stuart Levine to split kickbacks from a state pension deal. Rezko also helped ensure Levine's reappointment to a state pension board.

As part of the investigation, in which 13 people have been indicted or convicted, kickbacks were often the prescribed price of doing high-level business, be it the pension board for state teachers or the panel that decided whether hospitals could expand their facilities. And the extortion efforts went beyond merely enriching the participants to include soliciting campaign funds for Blagojevich.

At the same time, as Blagojevich began gearing up for his 2006 re-election bid, the clouds of scandal grew deeper. U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald acknowledged federal prosecutors had spent more than a year investigating fraud in state hiring that involved "multiple state agencies" and developed "a number of credible witnesses." Federal prosecutors also were looking into a $1,500 check written to one of Blagojevich's children by the husband of a recently appointed state worker.

In the month before Blagojevich was re-elected, Rezko was indicted on corruption charges while his ally, Levine, pleaded guilty to wringing cash from firms seeking state business. Federal prosecutors also were alleging Rezko and Christopher Kelly, another top fundraiser and adviser to the governor, had been influence peddling. Kelly later was indicted on unrelated federal tax charges.

They also began investigating real estate deals by First Lady Patricia Blagojevich in which she received hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions from politically connected clients, some of whom won millions of dollars in state business.

This morning Blogojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested-- at least in part-- for trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat! The report from Federal Prosector Patrick Fitzgerald's office is absolutely shocking:
Blagojevich and Harris were arrested simultaneously at their homes at about 6:15 a.m., according to Frank Bochte of the FBI. Both were awakened in their residences and transported to FBI headquarters in Chicago.

In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union, in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.

Another charge alleges Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of him in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.

Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts, according to the charges.

"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."

Just when I was thinking what a good job he was doing standing up for the workers at Republic Windows and Doors! He took on the predatory banksters but it looks like he was just as bad a predator as they were. And he got caught at it. This came from Fitzgerald's press release:
In the earliest intercepted conversation about the Senate seat described in the affidavit, Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A on November 3 that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he will take it for himself: "if... they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it." Later that day, speaking to Advisor A, Blagojevich said: "I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain." He added later that the seat "is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

I just thought I'd mention, as long as we're on the topic of corruption, that when Blojojevich went to the governor's office, Rahm Emanuel was handed his Hose seat, a rotten borough that had been scheduled to be gerrymandered out of existence. That was a political payoff for having shoved NAFTA down the throats of enough reluctant Democrats to get it passed. Just mentionin'. One good outcome? we may wind up with a good Senate pick-- like Jan Schakowsky. The Lt. Governor, Pat Quinn, is a solid progressive.


But it's a good idea anyway. State Representative John Fritchey, one of the dozen or so serious contenders for Blagojevich's (and Rahm Emanuel's) old House seat, claims impeachment proceedings will begin immediately. And, wisely, Durbin has called for a special election to fill Obama's Senate seat.

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At 8:03 AM, Blogger nycguy said...

So he's been arrested for thought crimes?

I'm sure the guy is corrupt, but arresting him for thinking out loud is even mopre corrupt and corrupting than what he's alleged to have done.

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow....and I thought that the money in the freezer was stupid. This guy really takes the cake. He had to have known that his phones were tapped....I just hope that the Repugs don't try to tar Obama with this brush.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger 333 said...

First off, Let's not forget that Chicago was the home of 2 warring factions; the Irish mobs and the Italian mobs. Should it be any surprised to a single person that this type of corruption might happen in a town that has just as many ties to the Mob as say.... New York or San Francisco?

I don't know what to say about this other than that if the shit-heads in the Democratic party don't get their heads out of their asses, we are in for real trouble for 2010 and there rest of our lives...

I ve read these complaints herein, and let me be the first to say that I believe our President knew this guy was a crook and had him torched before he could cause more harm. Hopefully, this type of swift action will show that Obama means business!!

Did you see Obama's combative nature on MSNBC Sunday? Kinda scary too! It was sooo Bush-esque

At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Obama is not involved in this.

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can assure you that many of the political figure's in this country should be cuffed to this governor too. How about Frank and Dodd being on the take with Fannie and Freddie?

I laugh when I hear of Washington deferring a case to the "Ethics Committee". As an employee of a Corp., if I was involved in unethical activities, I would be booted out of the door.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger VinceRN said...

So you lament the corruption of this Chicago Democrate Machine politician who claimed not to be corrupt, then you hope he'll be replaced by another product of the same machine? THere are no noncorrupt democrates in Illinois government. They are all products of the same machine, and if they don't play by the machine's rules they don't get elected. That has been true most of a century.
And now we get a president out of the same CHicago Machine.

Should be interesting at least.

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that part of the reason Obama put Emanuel on staff was to prevent him from causing problems in Congress, and I had thought that that was a good move. But if Emanuel gets caught like Blagojevich did, it will be very embarrassing.

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the next eight years, or even the next ten or twenty, lead to aggressive prosecution of official corruption and other wrongdoing?

Every one of those crooked bastards, from Congress members to former presidents to judges, all the way down to crooked mayors and cops on the beat, could be dragged off to prison!

Can you imagine the huge benefits to the country that would result?

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The man is a moron.
A complete idiot.
Did he really think that he would get away with it all?
This sort of thing is getting typical of our leaders today.
How sad.
We need to rise up and take a solid stand against government corruption because we have had enough of it!

George Vreeland Hill

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wouldn't surprise me if Blagojevich was re-elected as governor. :)

Look at Jim Black down here in NC. He was under investigation, and yet the "intelligent" people of Mecklanberg Co. re-elected him.

Comeon, people don't give a damn whether someone is a crook or not. They don't care that a politician is a criminal.

If people wanted "honest" politicians, then we (the people) would push for term limits. If a politician won't push for term limits, then you vote them out. Sooner or later, you would get what you want. It may take a while, but it would happen. If we wanted "honest" politicians, then we would send a message. Break the law, go directly to jail, for a very, very, very long time.

It just isn't going to happen.

At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Methinks this guy needs a drug test and a mental health evaluation. He is a danger to himself and others at this point. Hope he doesn't have any weapons stashed.

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nycguy..he has done more than think. There is a lot more behind this than what was reported today. Read the 79 page fed request for consideration for arrest warrants. It doesn't even tell all of it. Kinda like your guy Rudy G neglected to mention many first responders died from lack of proper equipment on 911 since money set aside for that "disappeared". Old Rudy tried to act like a patriot anyway. Tbe sad thing is, the kids have no good role models amongst the powerful anymore, and when we do see one, the status quo lovers try to bring them down.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich conspired to sell or trade President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder as part of what federal prosecutors called a "political corruption crime spreeā€.

Question #1 has anyone brought up the point that maybe he has done this before and succeeded?

Question #2 after reviewing part of the FBI wire tap transcripts it is clear by the language directed at Obama that he clearly dislikes him, is it because Obama himself bought his own seat then stiffed Blagojevich out of his money?
I think these questions need to be asked and investigated. Thank You

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

has anything like this ever happened?


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