Federal investigators recently made covert tape recordings of Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the most dramatic step yet in their corruption investigation of him and his administration, the Tribune has learned.
As part of this undercover effort, one of the governor's closest confidants and former aides cooperated with investigators, and that assistance helped lead to recordings of the governor and others, sources said.
The cooperation of John Wyma, 42, one of the state's most influential lobbyists, is the most stunning evidence yet that Blagojevich's once-tight inner circle appears to be collapsing under the pressure of myriad pay-to-play inquiries.
The feds are likely trying to prove Blagoyevich knowingly and approvingly participated in the pay-to-play schemes Fitzgerald has uncovered in his administration, practices for which the governor criticized his jailed predecessor George Ryan and promised to end when he became governor. Wyma, according to the report, has come up on several occasion during previous cases the federal government has successfully prosecuted. It has been suggested Wyma may have assisted in funneling real estate commissions to Blagoyevich's wife. And you wonder why Blagoyevich and other Illinois Democrats are trying to spring the former Republican governor from his jail cell at the federal prison in Terre Haute.
Meanwhile, the feds were also busy yesterday conducting searches of "two Joliet businesses owned by Harish Bhatt, a longtime Blagojevich supporter." The news reports omit the fact that Bhatt has also contributed thousands of dollars to Obama's campaigns. Bhatt may have been working hand-in-hand with long-time Obama pal Tony Rezko in various pay-to-play schemes.