Posts Tagged ‘Blagojevich arrested’

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Chief of Staff Singing?

December 12, 2008

Via Hot Air:

John Harris resigned this morning as Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s chief of staff, his lawyer said.

Harris dropped off his letter of resignation today in person and will not be going back to the office, according to his lawyer, Terry Ekl.

Today’s resignation of Blago’s CoS may signal leverage in the State’s case against many in the Chicago Political Machine.  This could be the accelraant needed to start the fire.  Harris could prove very valuable in this investigation and any subsequent investigations.  I guarantee many politicians associated with the IL Governor just took and are holding a huge breath.  More to come, and much more to come, and more….

-reagan21

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Breaking Blago News

December 10, 2008

Via MM and Hot Air:

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs calls for Blago to resign

Echoing Chicago Trib, which calls for Blago’s resignation in its lead editorial.

Until he resigns, however, Blagojevich is still the governor. Theoretically he could, even in his last moments, appoint someone to fill Obama’s vacant seat for two years.  But that person would be irredeemably tainted by the governor’s alleged attempts to sell or barter the seat. Blagojevich needs to step aside and let Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn take over.  This moment, though, shouldn’t be all about politicians and laws.  This moment should be about the serially cheated citizens of Illinois, people who pay their taxes and expect honest governance in return. They have to choose better officials.  They have to demand more.  They deserve more.  Right now, though, the state faces a financial crisis, a $2 billion budget shortfall and an abundance of difficult choices of what to fund and what to cut. Illinois needs a governor who can lead through this crisis. Rod Blagojevich is, more than before, the governor who cannot govern.

-reagan21

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Obama: “I never spoke with Blagojevich”; Axelrod: “Obama spoke with the office of Governor Blagojevich”/ and UPDATE 1

December 9, 2008

After the arrest of Gov Blago, PE-BHO noted:

I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening. . . It’s a sad day for Illinois.

However, Jake Tapper questions the validity of Obama’s statement and questions the relationship between Obama and the soon to be ex-Gov Blago.  The main source of Tapper’s disbelief is from David Axelrod himself; Obama’s Senior Advisor and a man who has used similar “political” tactics as Blogojevich.  See the vidoo below.

Axelrod said, “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”

Via Hot Air and ABC News:

There are no allegations that President-elect Obama or anyone close to him had anything to do with any of the crimes Gov. Blagojevich is accused of having committed.

In fact, there are indications that Mr. Obama and his team refused to go along with the “pay to play” way Blagojevich is accused of operating, offering only “gratitude” if the governor appointed his friend Valerie Jarrett to take his U.S. Senate seat, much to the governor’s chagrin.

But there remain questions about how Blagojevich knew that Mr. Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat — with whom was Blagojevich speaking? Did that person report the governor to the authorities?

And, it should be pointed out, Mr. Obama has a relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, having not only endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006, but having served as a top adviser to the Illinois governor in his first 2002 run for the state house.

That 2002 endorsement came at the same time that Axelrod had such serious concerns about whether Blagojevich was ready for governing he refused to work for his one-time client.

According to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., Mr. Obama’s incoming White House chief of staff, Emanuel, then-state senator Obama, a third Blagojevich aide, and Blagojevich’s campaign co-chair, David Wilhelm, were the top strategists of Blagojevich’s 2002 gubernatorial victory.

Emanuel told the New Yorker earlier this year that he and Obama “participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.”

Wilhelm said that Emanuel had overstated Obama’s role. “There was an advisory council that was inclusive of Rahm and Barack but not limited to them,” Wilhelm said, and he disputed the notion that Obama was “an architect or one of the principal strategists.”

(Emanuel later changed his recollection of this story to Rich Miller’s “CAPITOL FAX,” saying, “David [Wilhelm] and I have worked together on campaigns for decades. Like always, he’s right and I’m wrong.”)

Either way, others now around Obama were less enthusiastic about Blagojevich at the time, namely David Axelrod, Obama’s senior campaign adviser who will soon be a senior adviser at the White House.

Axelrod had worked for Blagojevich in his past races for the House, but he declined to work on his gubernatorial run.

“He had been my client and I had a very good relationship with him, but I didn’t sign on to the governor’s race,” Axelrod told the New Yorker. “Obviously he won, but I had concerns about it…I was concerned about whether he was ready for that. Not so much for the race but for governing. I was concerned about some of the folks — I was concerned about how the race was being approached.”

On the Chicago TV show “Public Affairs with Jeff Berkowitz” on June 27, 2002, state Sen. Obama said, “Right now, my main focus is to make sure that we elect Rod Blagojevich as Governor, we…”

“You working hard for Rod?” interrupted Berkowitz.

“You betcha,” said Obama.

“Hot Rod?” asked the host.

“That’s exactly right,” Obama said.

In 2004, then-Gov. Blagojevich enthusiastically endorsed Obama for the Senate seat after he won the nomination, and Obama endorsed Blagojevich for his 2006 re-election race in early 2005.

In the Summer of 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Obama backed Blagojevich even though there were serious questions at the time about Blago’s hiring practices.

At the time, numerous state agencies had had records subpoenaed, with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald telling authorities he was looking into “very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” with a “number of credible witnesses.”

In an interview with the Chicago Daily Herald in July 2006, then-Sen. Obama said, “I have not followed closely enough what’s been taking place in these investigations to comment on them. Obviously I’m concerned about reports that hiring practices at the state weren’t, at times, following appropriate procedures. How high up that went, the degree at which the governor was involved, is not something I’m going to speculate on.

“If I received information that made me believe that any Democrat had not been acting in the public interest, I’d be concerned,” Obama said.

That said, Mr. Obama said, “If the governor asks me to work on his behalf, I’ll be happy to do it.”

Apparently the governor did. At the Illinois State Fair in August 2006, Obama spoke on Blagojevich’s behalf.

“We’ve got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois,” Obama told the crowd.

In January 2007, Blagojevich’s office reserved the Old State Capitol for Mr. Obama’s presidential announcement at Obama’s request.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch told reporters that “Representatives for Sen. Obama contacted the governor’s office regarding use of the Old State Capitol. We contacted the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and reserved the Old State Capitol for the Senator on February 10th.”

The Old State Capitol is where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” speech in 1858.

Fitzgerald today said that the charges the government was making about Blagojevich “would make Lincoln turn over in his grave.

Update: Blago is not going to resign as Governor.  We will get to see the impeachment of Blago, or we get to see him govern either in jail or while out on bail.  Corruption runs rampant in that city.  Just another fallen from “grace”

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” attorney Sheldon Sorosky told reporters after Blagojevich was arraigned. “A lot of this is just politics.” Blagojevich should be in the office Wednesday, Sorosky added.

-reagan21

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Blago UPDATE

December 9, 2008

More updates via Hot Air of my post below:

1. Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to shake down Children’s Memorial Hospital’s CEO in exchange for $8 million in state health care funding, according to a federal affidavit unsealed Tuesday detailing corruption charges against the governor.

Mr. Blagojevich on Oct. 8 discussed with one of his campaign fundraisers pressing the executive — named in the criminal complaint as “Hospital Executive 1” — for a $50,000 campaign contribution, allegedly a quid pro quo for the governor’s recent funding commitment, according to the affidavit.

“I’m going to do $8 million for them. I want to get (Hospital Executive 1) for 50,” Mr. Blagojevich told the fundraiser, according to the 78-page affidavit.

2. The good news for The One? There’s no evidence that he or his team did anything improper. The bad news? There’ll have to be some investigating now to make sure. Tapper:

However, according to TIME:

[Obama’s] staff will be called on by the press to account for all their conversations with Blagojevich and his aides. Obama will have to explain what he knew about these discussions. The bit players in the indictment, like the unnamed Senate Candidate 1 and Senate Candidate 5, will have to come forward and explain their involvement. If the investigation continues into next year, which seems likely, there may even be calls for the appointment of something like an independent counsel at the Justice Department to avoid any hint of political interference. Obama’s staff and political allies may be forced to get attorneys of their own.

3. Dick Durbin evidently wants a special election to fill the seat, to obviate the incredible awkwardness that would come with Blago potentially appointing Obama’s successor from a jail cell.

I am positive there will be more to come. 

-reagan21

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Another Wrench Thrown Into the Chicago Political Machine

December 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: Ambinder speculates that Senate Candidate 5 is Jesse Jackson Jr.  I guess Jesse Senior threatened  to cut Blagojevich’s nuts out if he didn’t nominate his son. 

Update: Blagojevich’s approval rating as of mid-October was … four percent. No typo.

The union must have been involved if the equation includes Chicago and money.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Guess who was Blago’s biggest contributor?  The Service Employees International Union.

-reagan21