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lamberts-lost-tooth
12-09-2008, 01:35 PM
Ill. Gov. charged in Obama successor probe
Yahoo! AP

CHICAGO – 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."

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told a news conference prosecutors make "no allegations" Obama was aware of any alleged scheming.

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.

"We were in the middle of a corruption crime spree and we wanted to stop it," Fitzgerald said Tuesday, calling the corruption charges against Blagojevich "a truly new low."

Federal investigators bugged the governor's campaign offices and placed a tap on his home phone and Chicago FBI chief Robert Grant said even seasoned investigators were "stunned" by what they heard on the tapes.

Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said the governor's office did not have immediate comment on the charges but issued a statement saying the "allegations do nothing to impact the services, duties or function of the State."

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.

Among those being considered for the Senate post: U.S. Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez; Illinois Senate President Emil Jones and Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

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.

Corruption in the Blagojevich administration has been the focus of a federal investigation involving an alleged $7 million scheme aimed at squeezing kickbacks out of companies seeking business from the state. Federal prosecutors have acknowledged they're also investigating "serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" under Blagojevich, who has a $177,412 salary, though it's unclear whether he accepts the total.

The governor has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko who raised money for the campaigns of both Blagojevich and Obama is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of fraud and other charges. Blagojevich's chief fundraiser, Christopher G. Kelly, is due to stand trial early next year on charges of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.

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."

After hearing that, Blagojevich allegedly stressed to the head of a Chicago sports consulting firm that it was important to provide state aid for a Wrigley Field sale.

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.

FBI spokesman Frank Bochte said federal agents arrested the governor and Harris simultaneously at their homes at 6:15 a.m. and took them to the Chicago FBI headquarters.

He did not have any details about Blagojevich's arrest, only that he was cooperative with federal agents.

"It was a very calm setting," he said.

The governor was to appear Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan to answer the charges
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081209/ap_on_re_us/blagojevich_corruption_probe

hindes204
12-09-2008, 03:21 PM
wow, Illinois just cant seem to get it right can they, first Gov Ryan, now this.....and dont forget, these are the same people who made Obama famous

Preacher
12-09-2008, 03:34 PM
I do not trust democrats from Chicago.

The mayor Daly machine is a machine right out of the LAST turn of the century... and here is another corrupt politician to prove it.

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-09-2008, 03:45 PM
Details are coming out now...and they are not pretty.

Preacher
12-09-2008, 10:59 PM
Details are coming out now...and they are not pretty.


Not at all.

Illinois is only rivaled by Louisiana in sleazy politics . . . and that is an iffy statement anymore.

Vis
12-10-2008, 08:06 AM
Chicago reporter suggests Rahm Emanuel may have ‘tipped’ off federal investigators about Blagojevich.»
Marcy Wheeler catches local Chicago press reporting that Rahm Emanuel may have tipped off federal investigators that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was engaging in corrupt acts. Jack Conaty, a Chicago reporter for the local Fox affiliate, said on-air that Rahm Emanuel might have been responsible for causing federal investigators to act quickly to apprehend Blagojevich this morning:

CONATY: We did receive a tip this morning that perhaps all of this came together so quickly because the Governor may have reached out to Rahm Emanuel, the president-elect’s chief of staff, in attempting to leverage filling the Senate seat. And it may have been Rahm Emanuel who tipped the scale and made this move as quickly as it did.

Dino 6 Rings
12-10-2008, 08:14 AM
Not at all.

Illinois is only rivaled by Louisiana in sleazy politics . . . and that is an iffy statement anymore.

Louisiana prior to Jindal. Post Katrina the people of Louisiana have basically kicked out all the incumbent democrats and voted in republicans, with high moral standards into tons of their political seats and openings.

Chicago...has always been and always will be a sleazy land for snakes and salesman. How many dead people from Chicago voted for JFK back in the day?

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-10-2008, 08:27 AM
Chicago reporter suggests Rahm Emanuel may have ‘tipped’ off federal investigators about Blagojevich.»
Marcy Wheeler catches local Chicago press reporting that Rahm Emanuel may have tipped off federal investigators that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was engaging in corrupt acts. Jack Conaty, a Chicago reporter for the local Fox affiliate, said on-air that Rahm Emanuel might have been responsible for causing federal investigators to act quickly to apprehend Blagojevich this morning:

CONATY: We did receive a tip this morning that perhaps all of this came together so quickly because the Governor may have reached out to Rahm Emanuel, the president-elect’s chief of staff, in attempting to leverage filling the Senate seat. And it may have been Rahm Emanuel who tipped the scale and made this move as quickly as it did.

His corrupt acts started long before Obama was elected.

Emanuel "may" have tipped off investigators as to the senate seat for hire scandal....but the federal probe into his pay for play dealings preceded this latest scandal.

The dirt bag actually withheld funds to the Children Memorial Hospital and demanded $50,000 in campaign contributions before he would release it.

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-10-2008, 08:33 AM
Chicago reporter suggests Rahm Emanuel may have ‘tipped’ off federal investigators about Blagojevich.»
Marcy Wheeler catches local Chicago press reporting that Rahm Emanuel may have tipped off federal investigators that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was engaging in corrupt acts. Jack Conaty, a Chicago reporter for the local Fox affiliate, said on-air that Rahm Emanuel might have been responsible for causing federal investigators to act quickly to apprehend Blagojevich this morning:

CONATY: We did receive a tip this morning that perhaps all of this came together so quickly because the Governor may have reached out to Rahm Emanuel, the president-elect’s chief of staff, in attempting to leverage filling the Senate seat. And it may have been Rahm Emanuel who tipped the scale and made this move as quickly as it did.

Link please.

HometownGal
12-10-2008, 08:48 AM
The dirt bag actually withheld funds to the Children Memorial Hospital and demanded $50,000 in campaign contributions before he would release it.

What a total douchebag. :mad::mad:

I'm waiting to hear more on this scandal before I can rationally comment on it. As it stands now, however, it sure reeks of slime.

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-10-2008, 09:28 AM
What a total douchebag. :mad::mad:

I'm waiting to hear more on this scandal before I can rationally comment on it. As it stands now, however, it sure reeks of slime.

He also attempted to withhold funds from Wrigley Field until the Tribune (who owns the cubs) fired an editor who was giving him bad press.

Godfather
12-10-2008, 09:40 AM
Louisiana prior to Jindal. Post Katrina the people of Louisiana have basically kicked out all the incumbent democrats and voted in republicans, with high moral standards into tons of their political seats and openings.

Chicago...has always been and always will be a sleazy land for snakes and salesman. How many dead people from Chicago voted for JFK back in the day?

Vitter, Tauzin, and Baker are Republicans and they're just as sleazy as the Democrats. We all know about VItter...Tauzin and Baker left Congress for lucrative lobbying jobs. Those jobs just happened to be for industries that received legislative favors from those two crooks. And Rodney Alexander had his hands dirty in both the Abramoff scandal and the maf54 scandal. So they still have a little cleaning up to do, but at least Foti and Dollar Bill are gone.

Godfather
12-10-2008, 09:42 AM
Not at all.

Illinois is only rivaled by Louisiana in sleazy politics . . . and that is an iffy statement anymore.

Mississippi has them both beat. We lead the nation in public corruption convictions per capita.

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-10-2008, 02:22 PM
Chicago reporter suggests Rahm Emanuel may have ‘tipped’ off federal investigators about Blagojevich.»
Marcy Wheeler catches local Chicago press reporting that Rahm Emanuel may have tipped off federal investigators that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was engaging in corrupt acts. Jack Conaty, a Chicago reporter for the local Fox affiliate, said on-air that Rahm Emanuel might have been responsible for causing federal investigators to act quickly to apprehend Blagojevich this morning:

CONATY: We did receive a tip this morning that perhaps all of this came together so quickly because the Governor may have reached out to Rahm Emanuel, the president-elect’s chief of staff, in attempting to leverage filling the Senate seat. And it may have been Rahm Emanuel who tipped the scale and made this move as quickly as it did.

Rahm Source: Story That He Tipped Off Feds To Blago Is False
By Greg Sargent - December 9, 2008, 5:11PM


A source close to Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is denying reports that Rahm tipped off the Feds to Blagojevich's alleged efforts to sell Obama's Senate seat.

The rumors to this effect have been flying all afternoon, kicked off by a local Fox reporter in Chicago who claimed that he'd received a "tip" that Blago had reached out to Rahm to "leverage" filling Obama's Senate seat.

"It may have been Rahm Emanuel who tipped the scale and made this move as quickly as it did," the reporter said.

But a source close to Rahm emails us that "it's not true," adding that the story is the "result of some overzealous reporting."

It was a fun one, though.


http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/12/rahm_source_story_that_he_tipp.php

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-10-2008, 02:45 PM
Jackson is 'Candidate 5'
ABC NEWS
Wed Dec 10, 11:31 am ET

ABC News has a law enforcement source telling them that Jesse Jackson, Jr. is "Senate Candidate Five," the one who was -- according to Blagojevich -- willing to supply campaign cash in exchange for the Senate seat.

(This, incidentally, doesn't strike me as all that unusual in politics, or as obviously criminal as other things in the complaint -- though the crudeness with which Blagojevich discussed it was.)

ABC reports:

Jackson Jr. said "I don't know" when asked if he was Candidate #5, but said he was told "I am not a target of this investigation."

Jackson Jr. said he agreed to talk with federal investigators "as quickly as possible" after he consults with a lawyer.

The Congressman, a son of the famed civil rights leader, denied that anyone had been authorized to make payments or promises to the Governor on his behalf.

"It is impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any type of quid pro quo or any payments or offers," Jackson Jr. told ABC News. "An impossiblity to an absolute certainty


http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081210/pl_politico/27055_1

SteelCurtain7
12-10-2008, 05:45 PM
I so want to smack Blagojevich upside his teflon hair.

Dino 6 Rings
12-10-2008, 05:47 PM
Nothing to see here...no shady Chicago Politics going on at all...move along folks...

Look...a pregnant teen daughter!....look at that!

nothing to see here in the Chicago Political Machine...move along folks.

Preacher
12-10-2008, 06:11 PM
Yep.

it is just amazing how slimy Chicago Dem Politcs are.

As I keep saying. Tammany Hall is alive and well, packed up their bags, and moved to Chicago.

Of course. . . This is the same machine that produced Rostenkoswki. . . Or should I say, His father helped create and produce the machine.

revefsreleets
12-10-2008, 08:15 PM
And Obama prospered in this very system. "The Machine" seems to be alive and well.

I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, however.

Preacher
12-10-2008, 08:17 PM
And Obama prospered in this very system. "The Machine" seems to be alive and well.

I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, however.

My thoughts exactly. However, if the press was doing their job, this connection would have been properly vetted during the elections.

revefsreleets
12-10-2008, 08:24 PM
My thoughts exactly. However, if the press was doing their job, this connection would have been properly vetted during the elections.

Could you IMAGINE if everything was the same but it was Republicans?

Preacher
12-10-2008, 08:50 PM
Could you IMAGINE if everything was the same but it was Republicans?

I wouldn't even want to.

What would really make me sick, would be the self-appointed "protectors of democracy" claiming that it was just their duty to report on everything.

revefsreleets
12-10-2008, 09:06 PM
It's an outrageous story. Most people expect some corruption from their politicians, but only the garden variety type. This was old school hard core political bullshit that would hold up as REALLY abusing power in any era.

And it was made a headline on only about half the news mouthpieces.

Had Bush been involved, even on the most REMOTE periphery, this would have been an impeachment.

Ridiculous double standards.

cubanstogie
12-10-2008, 09:20 PM
And Obama prospered in this very system. "The Machine" seems to be alive and well.

I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, however.

The guy is associated with so much slime, you can't tell me some of it hasn't rubbed off on him. That was some good kool-aid 53 percent of our population drank. Tell me he doesn't owe one of these slimeballs something. Obama didn't get were he is on his own. He needs to rub someones back.

Preacher
12-10-2008, 09:28 PM
The guy is associated with so much slime, you can't tell me some of it hasn't rubbed off on him. That was some good kool-aid 53 percent of our population drank. Tell me he doesn't owe one of these slimeballs something. Obama didn't get were he is on his own. He needs to rub someones back.

While that may be true, it is the degree which is of greater concern.

Most politicians do the same thing (sadly). So I am not going to cast stones. However, I am just wondering why, with the notoriety of the Chicao/Daly machine, the press didn't ask any questions.

You know they would have been all over it had it been a GOP candidate.

HometownGal
12-10-2008, 09:41 PM
And Obama prospered in this very system. "The Machine" seems to be alive and well.

I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, however.

That's where I'm at . . . . at least for now.

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-14-2008, 05:34 AM
Mississippi has them both beat. We lead the nation in public corruption convictions per capita.

Actually North Dakota leads the nation in public corruption convictions per capita.

I still think that an argument can be made that Illinois is the most corrupt state in America....The "old school Democratic machine" is so in control, that the lack of corruption convictions has to be viewed in the light of most of its politicians being a part of the problem. In our case, fewer whistle blowers indicate fewer non-involved participants.

revefsreleets
12-15-2008, 09:00 AM
Great Op/Ed piece from a Trib Writer...

http://www.ohio.com/editorial/commentary/36123184.html

This Chicago scandal sizzles
By John Kass
Chicago Tribune


Published on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008

CHICAGO: Now that Gov. Dead Meat has been charged with selling Illinois by the pound — and Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat by the slice — let's just savor the aroma.

I love the smell of meat over coals in the morning.

It smells like . . . victory.

The people of Illinois needed some good news, and they got it. Former Republican Gov. George Ryan is in prison, and the arrest of his successor, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, surely means that the Illinois Combine that runs this state can stop with the rumors that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will be leaving town.

And, as Blagojevich most likely prepares to be Ryan's bunkmate, let's not forget the scores of other politicos, of all parties, who've gone down on corruption charges — including some of Mayor Richard Daley's guys who helped rebuild that Democratic machine the mayor says doesn't exist.

At a news conference in the federal building in Chicago, authorities were asked about Illinois corruption. ''If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor,'' said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office.

Grant had the privilege of standing outside Blagojevich's home about 6 a.m. Tuesday and calling the sleepy governor to say federal agents were outside, waiting to arrest him quietly.

''I could tell I woke him up,'' Grant said. ''And the first thing he said was, 'Is this a joke?' ''

No, but standing before a federal judge wearing jogging pants, sneakers and a powder blue fleece sort of made the governor of Illinois look like a jester. Or a joker. Political corruption in the state that has made corruption an art form isn't funny, like a clown. The joke is on all of us, everyone who lives in Illinois. Because Blagojevich was elected governor on the reform ticket, promising to clean up the state and end business as usual.

Chicagoans aren't really surprised. This is the state run by the Combine, with the Democratic machine on one side and the Republican insiders on the other, and the Chicago Outfit forming the base. That is the real iron triangle. Blagojevich was supported by the machine and by the now-indicted Republican power broker Big Bill Cellini. If that's not reform, what is?

The governor is alleged to have tried to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder, used his leverage in attempts to oust Tribune editorial writers who didn't play ball, and schemed to shake down the chief executive officer of Children's Memorial Hospital for campaign cash in exchange for a state grant.

So though Illinois isn't surprised — this is after all the home of the Chicago Way — the national media must be shocked. They've been clinging to the ridiculous notion that Chicago is Camelot for months now, cleaving to the idea with the willfulness of stubborn children. It must help them see Obama as some pristine creature, perhaps a gentle faun of a magic forest, unstained by our grubby politics, a bedtime story for grown-ups who insist upon fairy tales. But now the national media may finally be forced to confront reality.

Even national pundits with tingles running up their legs can't ignore the tape recordings in which Blagojevich speculated how he'd get the gold for picking Obama's successor.

''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 on tape. ''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.''

Obama's Senate seat, Blagojevich allegedly said, ''is a (expletive) valuable thing. You don't just give it away for nothing.''

Then, on Nov. 5, he allegedly said, ''I've got this thing, and it's (expletive) golden and, uh, I'm just not going to give it up for (expletive) nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And I can always use it, I can parachute me there.''

Parachute me? If a jury hears that tape, it's (expletive) over.

I figure Blagojevich most likely will start talking to the feds, blabbing about everyone he knows, in order to cut down his time, because what's on the federal tapes is devastating. Once he starts, the feds will have to slap him to shut him up.

Naturally, Obama didn't have much to say. Obama said he never talked to Blagojevich about the Senate seat. In this, his hands are clean. But he also didn't want to get involved, much like last week, when he didn't want to get involved in the Democratic push led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Big Jim) to get Ryan out of prison.

''I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening,'' Obama told reporters at his transition office in Chicago. ''It's a sad day for Illinois; beyond that, I don't think it's appropriate to comment.''

I don't think Obama would ever countenance paying Blagojevich for a Senate seat or allow others close to him to even consider it. I'm not saying Obama is corrupt here. He's busy with all the great issues of the day, but at some point the president-elect must address the stench in his home state.

Because this is no fairy tale. This isn't Camelot.

This is Chicago.

And a governor is on the grill.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kass is a Chicago Tribune columnist. He can be e-mailed at jskass@tribune.com.

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