Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Illinois Governor Arrested By Feds

The Chicago Tribune brings an early morning breaking news report of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagoyevich being taken into custody by federal agents this morning at his North Side Chicago home. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been unraveling pay-to-play schemes within the governor's administration for the past several years. A key player, Tony Rezko, is scheduled to be sentenced early next year. A report by the Tribune last Friday indicated that federal agents had secretly recorded conversations the governor had with close associates, including a former chief of staff, who later denied he was wearing the wire.

Blagoyevich is in the midst of naming a replacement for President-elect Barack Obama, who resigned his Senate seat shortly after the November election. Rumors abound that the governor may have been attempting to sell the Senate appointment for favors. Blagoyevich's legal woes could present many problems for the new president as well. The conviction of political fixer Tony Rezko was a critical step in reaching the governor for federal prosecutors. Whenever the governor's links to Rezko were raised by reporters, Blagoyevich was always quick to remind them that Obama's ties to Rezko were just as close as his.

UPDATE: It's not just rumor. Indeed, the U.S. Attorney has indicted both Blagoyevich and his chief of staff on bribery-related charges, which includes the selling of Obama's Senate seat among other things. From the U.S. Attorney's press release:

"Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009."

"Blagojevich, 51, and Harris, 46, both of Chicago, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. They were charged in a two-count criminal complaint that was sworn out on Sunday and unsealed today following their arrests, which occurred without incident, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Both men were expected to appear later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan in U.S. District Court in Chicago."

"A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:
  • a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;
  • placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
  • promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and
  • a cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself."


Michael said...

A Cook County Democrat politician neck deep in corruption!!!


Indy4U2C said...

If only U. S. Attorney Fitzgerald would come to Indianapolis for a while and clean up here as well...

Is the Monroe Gray indictment eligible for federal handling, since the airport receives federal money?

Doug said...

Stupid and corrupt is an awful combination. At least Illinois is keeping its lead over Alaska in the coveted crooked politician race.


What a great day, Gary! What a great day!

Advance Indiana said...

I've long since given up hope that any prosecutor down here will root out political corruption. When prima facie evidence of public crimes is printed on the pages of the state's largest newspaper and no prosecutions are subsequently pursued, you can only conclude the worst. Illinois politics is bad, but it's not so hot here in Indiana either. The difference is a prosecutor willing to do something about it.

artfuggins said...

Shame on you, Doug......why would you take such delight in the misfortune of others.......and how can you ignore all of the Palin corruption in Alaska??

Indy4U2C said...

"Corruption is as corruption does."


Mike Kole said...

Oh please, "Art Fuggins". If there is anyone I think of taking delight in the misfortunes of others, it is you. It's the sole criteria of at least half of your comments.

Rather, you should give Doug props. He's a partisan Democrat who isn't so blinded by partisanship that he will call a rat a rat.

Michael said...

And people want politicians running auto companies!!!

Are we, once Obama and Co. get in, to be spared NOTHING????


The next four years are gonna be REEEEEAAAAL fun. dws

Downtown Indy said...

Guess we have the first name for Obama's list of future exit-pardon's.