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."