Another Wrench Thrown Into the Chicago Political MachineDecember 9, 2008
Governor Blagojevich of IL was arrested this morning along with his chief of Staff John Harris. The Gov has been charged with bribing, money fraud, wire fraud, and other charges of conspiracy. The FBI had been “listening” to the Gov for the past three years through court ordered wire taps which an affidavit claims he was trying to sell the newly opened Senate seat to the highest bidder. The affidavit also claims that Gov B tried to bribe the Chicago Tribune by withholding funds in order to get an Editorial writer fired; the Editorial writer had been critical of Gov B throughout his tenure as the head of Illinois.
According to Hot Air:
The investigation’s been active for three years and his cronies have been rolling over on him for months, culminating in a former aide named John Wyma having somehow cooperated with the feds to obtain recordings of Blagojevich yakking about graft. (The Tribune, which broke the news, won’t say if he wore a wire.) Another top crony was convicted six months ago of mail fraud, among other things, but his sentencing was postponed from October to January amid rumors that he was singing to the U.S. Attorney about the Chicago machine in hopes of a better deal. You might have heard of him.
The 76 page affidavit claims the following, among other things.
… 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 (what a woman);
- Promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and
- A cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.
Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might “get some (money) up front, maybe” from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on October 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator.”
On November 7, while talking on the phone about the Senate seat with Harris and an advisor, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and that he is “financially” hurting, the affidavit states. Harris allegedly said that they were considering what would help the “financial security” of the Blagojevich family and what will keep Blagojevich “politically viable.” Blagojevich stated, “I want to make money,” adding later that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 a year, the complaint alleges.
On November 10, in a lengthy telephone call with numerous advisors that included discussion about Blagojevich obtaining a lucrative job with a union-affiliated organization in exchange for appointing a particular Senate Candidate whom he believed was favored by the President-elect and which is described in more detail below, Blagojevich and others discussed various ways Blagojevich could “monetize” the relationships he has made as governor to make money after leaving that office.
Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being “stuck” as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife’s employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office…
In a conversation with Harris on November 11, the charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat [This is certainly Valerie Jarrett. — AP] but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.”…
As recently as December 4, in separate conversations with Advisor B and Fundraiser A, Blagojevich said that he was “elevating” Senate Candidate 5 on the list of candidates because, among other reasons, if Blagojevich ran for re-election, Senate Candidate 5 would “raise money” for him. Blagojevich said that he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided Blagojevich with something “tangible up front.”
Updates are from Hot Air:
Update: Blagojevich’s approval rating as of mid-October was … four percent. No typo.