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Blagojevich Caught Selling Obama’s Seat

From a distraught Associated Press:


(L-R) Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, U.S. Senator and Presidential hopeful Barack Obama (D-IL) and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley watch a video during a rally in Chicago,, April 16, 2007.

Ill. Gov. arrested in Obama successor probe

By MIKE ROBINSON, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO – Illinois Gov. Rod was arrested on Tuesday on charges that he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder.

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, according to a federal criminal complaint. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

Otherwise, Blagojevich considered appointing himself. The affidavit said that as late as Nov. 3, he told his deputy governor that if “they’re not going to offer me anything of value I might as well take it.”

“I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain,” Blagojevich allegedly said later that day, according to the affidavit, which also quoted him as saying in a remark punctuated by profanity that the seat was “a valuable thing — you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

The affidavit said Blagojevich also discussed getting a substantial salary for himself at a nonprofit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.

It said Blagojevich also talked about getting his wife placed on corporate boards where she might get $150,000 a year in director’s fees.

He also allegedly discussed getting campaign funds for himself or possibly a post in the president’s cabinet or an ambassadorship once he left the governor’s office. He noted becoming a U.S. senator might remake his image for a possible presidential run in 2016, according to the affidavit. And he allegedly said a Senate seat would also provide him with corporate contacts if he needed a job and present an opportunity for his wife to work as a lobbyist.

“I want to make money,” the affidavit quotes him as saying in one conversation.

The affidavit said Blagojevich expressed frustration at being “stuck” as governor and that he would have access to greater resources if he were indicted while in the U.S. Senate than while sitting as governor.

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

“They allege that Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States senator,” Fitzgerald said…

Among those being considered for the Senate post include U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Jesse Jackson Jr.

The affidavit outlined a Nov. 10 call between Blagojevich, his wife, his chief of staff — John Harris, who also was arrested Tuesday — and a group of advisers in which Harris allegedly suggested working out an agreement with the Service Employees International Union.

Under the plan, Blagojevich would appoint a new senator who would be helpful to the president-elect and in turn get a job as head of Change to Win, a group formed by the union. The union would get an unspecified favor from Obama later.

Nothing in the court papers suggested Obama had any part in the discussion. In fact, Blagojevich allegedly said in the same conversation that Obama most likely would not appoint him as secretary of health and human services or to an ambassadorship because of the negative publicity that has surrounded the governor for three years.

One day later, according to the affidavit, Blagojevich allegedly told an associate he knew Obama wanted a specific Senate candidate but “they’re not going to give me anything except appreciation.” He finished the remark with an expletive.

Blagojevich also was charged with using his authority as governor in an attempt to squeeze out campaign contributions…

According to Tuesday’s complaint, Blagojevich schemed with Rezko, millionaire-fundraiser turned federal witness Stuart Levine and others to get financial benefits for himself and his campaign committee.

Federal prosecutors said Blagojevich and the chairman of his campaign committee have been speeding up corrupt fundraising activities in the last month to get as much money as possible before the end of the year when a new law would curtail his ability to raise contributions from companies with state contracts worth more than $50,000.

According to the affidavit, agents learned Blagojevich was seeking $2.5 million in campaign contributions by the end of the year, with a large part allegedly to come from companies and individuals who have gotten state contracts or appointments.

The affidavit also outlines Blagojevich conversations related to Tribune Co., which has been hoping to sell Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs which the publishing giant also owns.

Blagojevich was quoted in court papers as telling Harris in a profanity laced Nov. 4 conversation that his recommendation to Tribune executives was to fire the editorial writers “and get us some editorial support.”

Harris is quoted as telling the governor Nov. 11 that an unnamed Tribune Owner, presumably CEO Sam Zell, “got the message and is very sensitive to the issue.”

The affidavit said Harris quoted a Tribune financial adviser as saying cuts were coming at the newspaper and “reading between the lines he’s going after that section,” apparently meaning editorial writers. Blagojevich is quoted as saying: “Oh, that’s fantastic.”

“Wow,” Blagojevich allegedly replied. “Keep our fingers crossed. You’re the man. Good job, John.”

Harris allegedly told Blagojevich in his conversation with the financial adviser he had singled out deputy editorial page editor John McCormick as “somebody who was the most biased and unfair.” …

Funny how Mr. Blagojevich got arrested just as a certain king-maker got into the “bidding”:

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Jones joins bidding for Obama Senate seat

December 8, 2008

For the first time, outgoing Illinois Senate President Emil Jones is saying he would like President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.

“Yes, I am interested,” Jones said on WBBM-AM’s “At Issue,” which aired Sunday. Obama’s replacement should be black, Jones said, because otherwise the U.S. Senate will be all-white.

“Barack would not be there had [it] not been for an Emil Jones,” Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said at a Sunday news conference to push Jones.

Gov. Blagojevich decides who gets the plum. Besides Jones, political chatter is focusing on U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, state veterans’ affairs chief Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

Lest we forget, Mr. Jones is the man who made Barack Obama a US Senator.

(Thanks to BannedByTheTaliban for the heads up. And thanks to C Gardner for the Emil Jones tip.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

24 Responses to “Blagojevich Caught Selling Obama’s Seat”

  1. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    More press about the Illinois governor:

    Gov. Blagojevich taken into custody

    Lt. Quinn: Blagojevich remains governor

    CHICAGO (WLS) — Gov. Rod Blagojevich was taken into custody Tuesday morning at his Northwest Side home, sources say.

    LIVE news conference at 11 a.m. on ABC7Chicago.com A source told ABC7’s Chuck Goudie that Gov. Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his home on Sunnyside. His chief of staff, John Harris, was also arrested . According to the source, the governor is now at FBI headquarters on the city’s West Side, where he is in the custody of federal authorities.

    Officials are expected to hold a news conference later today. Gov. Blagojevich may also make a court appearance.

    The feds have been investigating pay-to-play politics for three years in Illinois on how the state has hired for state jobs. They did not release details about he charges.

    Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, reached by phone at home, tells ABC 7 News “I’ve heard the reports but I don’t know whether it’s true or not.”

    Illinois’s lieutenant governor says he has not been told of Governor Blagojevich’s arrest by federal authorities “through any official channels” but is heading to the Thompson Center now to await more information.

    “The Governor remains the Governor… The presumption is you’re always innocent until proven guilty,” said Quinn.

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/politics&id=6545958

    Something tells me he would no longer be governor if he were a republican. But how could this of happened is a political arena so close obama (no that isn’t a typo, his name is not worthy of capitalization)?

  2. clifcrds says:

    At first I thought the Associated Press had cleaned up its act when to my disbelief I found this little unbelievable nugget of truth in the 3rd paragraph

    A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

    Could this be true . . . had the AP FINALLY named the party of affiliation in such a scandalous story about a Commiecrat just because it was a fact?
    Then I pinched myself and came to my senses and read SG’s account of what might have happened. And of course let’s not forget that these arrests were made AFTER “The One” was anointed King.

    I then I read the rest of the article and noticed that at the end they had to add this equalizing weight to the story:

    Blagojevich took the chief executive’s office in 2003 as a reformer promising to clean up former Gov. George Ryan’s mess.
    Ryan, a Republican, is serving a 6-year prison sentence after being convicted on racketeering and fraud charges. A decade-long investigation began with the sale of driver’s licenses for bribes and led to the conviction of dozens of people who worked for Ryan when he was secretary of state and governor.

    AND just to show the every tiger has not changed its stripes if you read the article posted on the Chicago SeeBS web site: http://cbs2chicago.com/local/rod.blagojevich.charged.2.883170.html
    . . . you won’t find the word Democrat even once in the 3,465 word article. Utterly unbelievable that someone could write such an in-depth article of this size and not mention the word Democrat just once!

  3. Media_man says:

    I wonder how people in Blue states like Illinois (or NJ, or NY, or CA) continue to vote for proudly corrupt politicians who fleece their tax payers like sheep and don’t seem to mind. I suppose it has something to do with the taxeaters out numbering the the taxpayers in those respective states whereas in Red states it remains the opposite. Blue states have a relatively steep level of tolerance for corruption so long as the gravy train continues to roll. Red states less so (Ted Stevens not withstanding).

    They’ll replace Guv Blag with another corrupt machine pol who will be just a bit more careful about the graft he solicits.

  4. curvyred says:

    Isn’t amazing that they keep the party affiliation buried in the third paragraph when it is a democrat, but name the affiliation in the headline when it is a Republican.

  5. crosspatch says:

    Looks like the Rezko/Obama land deal might be in front of a Grand Jury, too.

  6. smileygal2 says:

    Most of us in IL are throwing a party… It’s about time they do something about the slimeball some call govenor! If it weren’t for Chicago – I doubt that man – or most of our other elected officials would have a job!

  7. Liberals Demise says:

    Simply…….WOW!!
    In keeping with the theme of democraps and Chi-town politics….enter the Clinton machine with their violin cases. Maybe the Gov can cut a deal, enter the witness protection program and spill the beans on Barry before he gets Vinnie Fostered.

    CRASH & BURN (and take the “ONE” with you gov)
    Just tell us “How Much”

  8. proreason says:

    “I wonder how people in Blue states like Illinois (or NJ, or NY, or CA) continue to vote for proudly corrupt politicians who fleece their tax payers like sheep and don’t seem to mind”

    Where are the politicians NOT corrupt? They must all be so rich because they are so smart.

    But the key thing to note here is when this is revealed. What a surprise, huh? Any chance Blago did anything wrong BEFORE the election. Guess not. LOL. Kind of looks to me like Obamy is covering his tracks by purging the weak links in the Family back home.

    So far we have….supression of voter registration fraud, supression of donor fraud, supression of reams of information about Obamy, instigation of the CRP crisis immediately before the election, manipulation of the markets in September and October by Soros and crew, patently false claims of racism in the campaign, and untold lies about Sarah Palin…..and now the belated revelation the purge of Obamy’s weak link partner in crime.

    Oh but of course the country had a fair election, very fair, and Obamy is the duly elected representative of the people.

    And all conservatives need to do is field a more centrist candidate to get back in the game.

  9. Icarus says:

    LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. jimwilson says:

    Missing — as always — from the several of the versions of this story from the AP and all morning on CNN was….. drum roll… the PARTY AFFILIATION.

    I had to CALL the Illinois office of the Associated Press to tell them that their stories were missing the party affiliation.

    I was the person who called them this summer when John Edwards’ big story came about and the AP — and several North Carolina newspapers — seemingly “forgot” to put what his party affiliation.

    Then, the funniest response was from the Raleigh News & Observer who actually said “well, if you don’t know that, then you are living under a rock” — again, totally missing the POINT!

    I had to explain to the AP today why missing the party affiliation is taken by Republicans as a hidden (or not-so-hidden) way of showing the inherent bias of the media… it’s so embarassing I wish they would just give up claiming they are not biased!!!

    Oh, and, of course, when I called the AP, they asked “who I was with” — not to determine if I was an AP member, but to see just who I was. They wanted to know if I was “just a member of the public” or who….

    Ugh… losers…

  11. proreason says:

    SG: how could you miss highlighting this in the story about Obamy friend Blago? “He noted becoming a U.S. senator might remake his image for a possible presidential run in 2016”

    Whew! No more worries about an Obamy successor. If the One can’t get the worrisome term limit “mistake” removed from the Constitution, well-qualified candidates are already emerging to carry the movement forward.

  12. Mike D says:

    First time poster, I have been reading this website for months, and love the comments. Its hard being a 25 yr old conservative male in Chicago, IL I sometimes feel like I should just call in sick. I pulled a jimwilson and also called the AP branch here in Chicago. They assured me that the “AP’ version of the report does mention his party affliation.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/ILLINOIS_GOVERNOR?SITE=RIPRJ&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    Mind you, its not in the traditional format you see regarding any writings about politicans with their name followed by R or D in caps. They waited until the FOURTH paragraph to remind the world subtly that yes hes a Dem.

    I actually had the privilege to meet the soon to be late governor at former Speaker Denny Hastert(R) inauguration party in DC at the Library of Congress. I accidentally introduced him to my mother as “this is Rod Blagovich, hes a chach”…oh sweet memories

  13. proreason says:

    “Mike D

    December 9th, 2008 at 4:27 pm
    First time poster, I have been reading this website for months, and love the comments. Its hard being a 25 yr old conservative male in Chicago, IL I sometimes feel like I should just call in sick.”

    Be careful Mike, they will probably assume you are taking a gay day.

  14. Liberals Demise says:

    Welcome Mike…make yourself a home here. You are in GOOD COMPANY!! Don’t call in sick tomorrow or you are labeled buddy!!

  15. Liberals Demise says:

    RIGHT ON, PRO!!

  16. proreason says:

    Tapper says “And, it should be pointed out, Mr. Obama has a relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, having not only endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006, but having served as a top adviser to the Illinois governor in his first 2002 run for the state house.”

    There are a couple of areas where i’m wishy-washy in my support for Obamy, but you have to give him credit for consistency in judgement when it comes to selecting his allies.

  17. 11ten1775 says:

    “Kind of looks to me like Obamy is covering his tracks by purging the weak links in the Family back home.”

    That’s gotta be it. No one is surprised he was trying to sell the Senate seat; the only surprise is that he actually got arrested for doing it.
    It just goes to show how insane Chicago politics are… He was being investigated already, and yet he felt perfectly comfortable putting the word out that he wanted to profit from this selection, plus he knew full well that the whole country was watching this decision closely (ie. whether or not he picked a black guy). And yet, he didn’t feel the need to be discreet. Why is that?

    Wonder how long it’ll be until they take his name off those huge I-Pass signs. Three guesses as to whose name will replace it…

    Anyway, this makes me smile. Great story.

  18. Lipstick on a PIAPS says:

    I also love the way the media is doing backflips about Obama’s relationship with this Chicago slimeball. No matter what happened and who was in the room, OBAMA had nothing to do with it! LMAO

  19. Anonymoose says:

    Is there anyone Obama is “associated” with who is not a crook or terrorist?

  20. proreason says:

    “Is there anyone Obama is “associated” with who is not a crook or terrorist?”

    His daughters may not be.

  21. curvyred says:

    That picture is priceless, lol.

  22. bobbys says:

    In light of this corruption we had better see a full pardon for Jake and Elwood

  23. GuppyNblue says:

    I’d like to thank Blagojevich for being such a blabbering idiot. With todays media it’s hard to come by evidence so blatant that they can’t protect their party. But IMO he has exposed exactly the way business is done in Illinois and Washington.

    I’m sure the media will focus on distancing Obama and discredit anything incriminating Blagojevich might say about him. They’re already pushing his “misspoke” excuse – just like his routine “I was taken out of context”.

  24. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    Obama will do to Blagojevich the same thing he’s done to others when they became a political liability. He’ll throw him under the bus and move on. But what’ll you bet that somehow when all this blows over, Blagojevich will come out smelling like a rose? The Dem’s take care of their own, whereas the Republican party tends to eat their own.


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