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Offline wpr  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, December 9, 2008 6:54:05 PM(UTC)

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They got the czar.


Feds: Governor tried to 'auction' Obama's seat

CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich embarked on a "corruption crime spree" and tried to benefit from his ability to appoint President-elect Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate, federal officials said Tuesday.

At a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called it a sad day for the citizens of Illinois and alleged that the governor tried to "auction off" the Senate seat "to the highest bidder."

He said the alleged behavior "would make (Abe) Lincoln roll over in his grave."

Blagojevich had been arrested hours earlier and was released later in the day after posting a $4,500 bond.

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democrat was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

Fitzgerald said federal investigators bugged Blagojevich's campaign offices and placed a tap on his home phone.

In Illinois, the governor selects a successor when there is a mid-term Senate vacancy. Obama resigned from the Senate soon after winning the Nov. 4 presidential election.

'Truly a new low'
Fitzgerald accused Blagojevich of "appalling conduct" and said the governor "has taken us to a truly new low." He alleged that the governor wanted "tangible and up front" cash in return for appointing Obama's successor.

"He wasn't against a corrupt deal, he was against being stiffed in a corrupt deal," Fitzgerald added.

Fitzgerald said "Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States senator."

Federal prosecutors have investigated Blagojevich's administration for at least three years. The governor has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Robert Grant, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago office of the FBI, said colleagues had been left "disgusted and revolted" by the case.

Fitzgerald said federal officials were making "no allegations" that Obama himself was "aware of anything" in connection with the case.

'I want to make money'
The affidavit contends Blagojevich discussed getting a substantial salary for himself at a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions. It also says Blagojevich talked about getting his wife placed on corporate boards where she might get $150,000 a year in director's fees.

The affidavit also quotes Blagojevich as saying in one conversation that "I want to make money."

Blagojevich and John Harris, the governor's chief of staff, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

The FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich also sought promises of campaign cash, as well as a cabinet post or ambassadorship in exchange for his Senate choice.

Blagojevich is accused of saying on Nov. 3 that if he was not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he would appoint himself to the post.

"I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain," the affidavit quotes the governor as saying.

Senate seat is a 'valuable thing'
He noted becoming a U.S. senator might remake his image for a possible presidential run in 2016, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit quotes Blagojevich telling an adviser later that day that a Senate seat "is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

In a conversation with Harris on Nov. 4, the day of the election, Blagojevich is alleged to have compared his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to the highest bidder.

On Nov. 5, Blagojevich allegedly told an adviser: "I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it."

On Nov. 7, while talking on the phone about the Senate seat with Harris and an adviser, 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.

The complaint alleges that the governor stated, "I want to make money," adding later that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 a year.

The affidavit outlined a Nov. 10 call among Blagojevich, his wife, Harris and a group of advisers in which Harris allegedly suggested working out an agreement with the Service Employees International Union.

Under the plan, Blagojevich would appoint a new senator who would be helpful to the president-elect and in turn get a job as head of Change to Win, a group formed by the union. The union would get an unspecified favor from Obama later.

Nothing in the court papers suggested Obama had any part in the discussion. In fact, Blagojevich allegedly said in the same conversation that Obama most likely would not appoint him as secretary of health and human services or to an ambassadorship because of the negative publicity that has surrounded the governor for three years.

One day later, according to the affidavit, Blagojevich allegedly told an associate he knew Obama wanted a specific Senate candidate but theyre not going to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them."

Among those being considered for the Senate post: U.S. Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez; Illinois Senate President Emil Jones and Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

Chicago Tribune allegedly pressured
According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

Blagojevich was quoted in court papers as telling Harris in a profanity laced Nov. 4 conversation that his recommendation to Tribune executives was to fire the editorial writers and get us some editorial support.

Harris is quoted as telling the governor Nov. 11 that an unnamed Tribune Owner, presumably CEO Sam Zell, got the message and is very sensitive to the issue.
The affidavit said Harris quoted a Tribune financial adviser as saying cuts were coming at the newspaper and reading between the lines hes going after that section, apparently meaning editorial writers. Blagojevich is quoted as saying: Oh, thats fantastic.

Wow, Blagojevich allegedly replied. Keep our fingers crossed. Youre the man. Good job, John.

Harris allegedly told Blagojevich in his conversation with the financial adviser he had singled out deputy editorial page editor John McCormick as somebody who was the most biased and unfair.

After hearing that, Blagojevich allegedly stressed to the head of a Chicago sports consulting firm that it was important to provide state aid for a Wrigley Field sale.

Corruption in the Blagojevich administration has been the focus of a federal Operation Board Games involving an alleged $7 million scheme aimed at squeezing kickbacks out of companies seeking business from the state.

Federal prosecutors have acknowledged they're also investigating "serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" under Blagojevich.

Political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who raised money for the campaigns of both Blagojevich and Obama, is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of fraud and other charges.

Blagojevich's chief fundraiser, Christopher Kelly, is due to stand trial early next year on charges of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.

According to Tuesday's complaint, Blagojevich schemed with Rezko, millionaire-fundraiser turned federal witness Stuart Levine and others to get financial benefits for himself and his campaign committee.

Federal prosecutors said Blagojevich and the chairman of his campaign committee have been speeding up corrupt fundraising activities in the last month to get as much money as possible before the end of the year when a new law would curtail his ability to raise contributions from companies with state contracts worth more than $50,000.

According to the affidavit, agents learned Blagojevich was seeking $2.5 million in campaign contributions by the end of the year, with a large part allegedly to come from companies and individuals who have gotten state contracts or appointments.

Blagojevich, in his second term, is the latest in a string of Illinois governors to run afoul of the law. His immediate predecessor, George Ryan, is in jail following a federal corruption conviction.

Criminal governors
Three former Illinois governors have gone to prison in the past 35 years:

Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was governor from 1961 to 1968, served less than a year of a three-year sentence after his 1973 conviction on bribery, tax evasion and other counts. He was convicted of arranging favorable horse racing dates as governor in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. Kerner died in 1976.
Dan Walker, a Democrat who was governor from 1973 to 1977, served 1 1/2 years of a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. The charges were not related to his service as governor.
George Ryan, a Republican who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders while he was Illinois secretary of state and then governor. He is serving a 6 1/2-year prison term.
In addition, William Stratton, governor from 1953-1961, was later indicted but then acquitted on charges of income tax evasion.
Source: AP
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em." Chesty Puller


Offline Pack93z  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, December 9, 2008 6:59:59 PM(UTC)

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Let the purging of the scum begin in your fine state.. Obama has intimate knowledge of some of the dealing there.. it will be interesting if they use this break to clean the garbage up in the politics.

This country needs wide spread political reform... lets hope this is the beginning of the purge.
I think when there's enough will and aggression, there's no shortage of talent either.

Offline wpr  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, December 9, 2008 7:12:30 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: " Go to Quoted Post
Let the purging of the scum begin in your fine state.. Obama has intimate knowledge of some of the dealing there.. it will be interesting if they use this break to clean the garbage up in the politics.

This country needs wide spread political reform... lets hope this is the beginning of the purge.

You get my vote. Cleaning up politics is kinda of like swatting a purple gnome. It makes you feel good but you really don't accomplish very much.
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em." Chesty Puller


Offline 4PackGirl  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, December 10, 2008 10:39:39 AM(UTC)

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yes, welcome to illinois where we have 3 former governers who went to prison & another one on his way! it's embarrassing!!! i hope he AND his wife rot in prison for what they've done. trying to extort money from a children's hospital...a CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL?!?!? azzcracks!!!!!!

btw - just to clarify, obama was NOT tied in ANY way to what took place. i almost spit out my poptart when they interviewed mayor daley (mobster extroardinaire) who denied knowledge of anything - i call major BS on that one since daley got blagojevich elected!!

yep - proud to be livin in illinois where corruption reigns supreme - sigh.
Offline DanJustDan29  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, December 10, 2008 1:04:09 PM(UTC)

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Who didn't expect this?
Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn't do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another. -Vince Lombardi
Offline vegOmatic  
#6 Posted : Thursday, December 11, 2008 4:25:49 PM(UTC)

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My politicians have been going to jail, too.

In the end, I blame the voters. They always want change, not progress.
Offline Since69  
#7 Posted : Friday, December 12, 2008 2:27:17 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: " Go to Quoted Post

In the end, I blame the voters. They always want change, not progress.

True. Intelligent democracy is wonderful, but uninformed democracy is just a popularity contest. Sad to say, the American public is too ignorant and lazy to elect the most qualified candidate. No, the winner is always the one with the most charisma, the most money, the better spin doctors. The candidate who looks better on TV, and gets made fun of less on the internet.

The last time we got it right was in 1980 when we elected Reagan. And even then he got in for all the wrong reasons. He won because he was the most charismatic and well-spoken. It was just a fortunate coincidence that he also happened to be a damn good leader.
Offline Nonstopdrivel  
#8 Posted : Friday, December 12, 2008 3:44:10 PM(UTC)

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Yeah, Obama ran on a campaign slogan of "Change we need," but you you know what they say about change. "The more things change . . . " etc.
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