This is currently a developing story–this morning, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested and charged with corruption. His chief of staff, John Harris, was also indicted this morning. This is the result of a 5 year investigation of corruption allegations.
A copy of the affidavit, from the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois can be found here. Parts of it are actually pretty funny, if it wasn’t so sad that this is a government official we’re talking about.
Here are the two counts that Blagojevich has been charged with:
From in or about 2002 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants did, conspire with each other and with others to devise and participate in a scheme to defraud the State of Illinois and the people of the State of Illinois of the honest services of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, in furtherance of which the mails and interstate wire communications would be used, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341,1343, and 1346; all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1349.
Beginning no later than November 2008 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, being agents of the State of Illinois, a State government which during a one-year period, beginning January 1, 2008 and continuing to the present, received federal benefits in excess of $10,000, corruptly solicited and demanded a thing of value, namely, the firing of certain Chicago Tribune editorial members responsible for widely-circulated editorials critical of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with business and transactions of the State of Illinois involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more, namely, the provision of millions of dollars in financial assistance by the State of Illinois, including through the Illinois Finance Authority, an agency of the State of Illinois, to the Tribune Company involving the Wrigley Field baseball stadium; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666(a)(1)(B) and 2.
He has been accused of saying, “I want to make money” as a result of his Senate appointment to replace President-Elect Barack Obama. The job of replacing the former Senator falls soley on the Governor’s shoulders, under Illinois law.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that Blagojevich (it gets easier to type after you’ve done it a few times) “put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator.”
The affidavit even cites a recording where Blagojevich said, “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. 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.”
According to the affidavit, there are 5 candidates in the running. The affidavit makes it sound like Obama (who is referred to as “President-elect”) wants “Candidate 1” to get the seat. The affidavit shows conversations between Blagojevich and Harris and others where Blagojevich wants to make a deal with the President-elect, but there are no accusations (or evidence) that Obama knew about any of this. All the affidavit indicates is that Obama had indicated who he wanted to replace him, and that’s a perfectly legal and normal thing.
So far, the Obama transition team has not returned any phone calls to the press.
I’m going to give you some quotes from the affidavit (warning: the following does contain some harsh language) (the page numbers are the pages of the actual affidavit, not the PDF, which contains 2 introduction pages which are not numbered):
- On November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Deputy Governor A. … “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.” (p. 58)
- Later on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. By this time, media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an advisor to the Presidentelect, was interested in the Senate seat if it became vacant, and was likely to be supported by the President-elect. During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, “unless I get something
real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying.” … “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. 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.” … “[the Senate seat] is a fucking valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.” (56)
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to various teams, stating “how much are you offering, [President-elect]? What are you offering, [Senate Candidate 2]? . . . Can always go to. . . [Senate Candidate 3].” Later ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he will make a decision on the Senate seat “in good faith . . . but it is not coming for free. . . .It’s got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states “[President-elect], you want it? Fine. But, its got to be good or I could always take [the Senate seat].” (57)
- On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. … In regards to the Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.” (59)
- HARRIS suggested a “three-way deal,” and explained that a three-way deal like the one discussed would give the President-elect a “buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo for [Senate Candidate 1].” (61)
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the “financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, “the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.” (63-64)
- ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if he appoints Senate Candidate 4 to the Senate seat and, thereafter, it appears that ROD BLAGOJEVICH might get impeached, he could “count on [Senate Candidate 4], if things got hot, to give [the Senate seat] up and let me parachute over there.” HARRIS said, “you can count on [Senate Candidate 4] to do that.” Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.” (66)
So, as of now, it’s really unclear who all is ivolved in this, but it does appear that some of the potential Senate appointees were involved. I’ll keep updating this as we find out more abut who all was involved.
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