The Chicago Tribune broke the news: Governor Rod Blagojevich is in federal custody. The Illinois governor was taken in on federal corruption charges. The biggest accusation leveled against the governor is that he was planning to sell or trade Barack Obama’s senate seat to benefit himself and his family.
The Tribune reports that while federal agents were investigating a general “pay-to-play” scandal in Blagojevich’s administration, they recently homed in on Blagojevich’s selection process to choose Barack Obama’s replacement in the Senate.
Just the other day, Blagojevich was defending his reputation upon reports his conversations were being recorded by the feds, challenging everyone that wanted to record his conversations should go ahead and do so: “I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly and notoriously, and those who feel like they want to sneakily, and wear taping devices, I would remind them that it kind of smells like Nixon and Watergate.”
(Note: Nixon, however, wasn’t “sneakily” taped; rather, it was his own recordings that led him into trouble.)
The FBI released a 76-page report detailing the charges and evidence against the Illinois governor.
Charges against the governor (and his chief of staff, John Harris) includes a plot to get members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board fired by threatening to withhold state financial assistance to the Tribune Company. The governor also wanted to appoint a U.S. senator that would help him personally in the federal government, including possibly helping him to obtain the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services. The governor is also accused of “defrauding the state of Illinois” through various money-making schemes.
One story in particular has a man telling the feds that in a meeting with Blagojevich about the man’s possible appointment to a high-level position in Illinois, he had a $25,000 donation check to the group Friends of Blagojevich on the table. After repeatedly making large donations to the group, Blagojevich invited him to join his administration where he told him “he could make some money.”
In a recorded meeting with a fundraiser about choosing Obama’s replacement, the governor chose to bump up “Senate Candidate 5” on his list of contenders, believing it would be possible to get the candidate to provide “something tangible up front.” During a call to an adviser about “Senate Candidate 1,” the governor was recorded as saying, “unless I get something real good for [‘Senate Candidate 1’], [expletive], I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying?” He went on to say later that the seat “is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”
The full report detailing all the charges against the governor can be found here, which is offered through the Chicago Tribune’s website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/acrobat/2008-12/43789434.pdf.
The most unpopular governor in the nation according to an October poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports (only 4 percent of Illinoisans rated his performance as “good”), Blagojevich will not likely get sympathy from Illinoisans.