Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Illinois Governor Arrested on Federal Charges of Being a Crooked Politician

What Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich (D) did is what I believe most politiics in the United States is about. Yet it is rarely caught on tape, and it is even more rare that it is made this public.

Blagojevich wanted to sell the naming of the succesor to Barack Obama's senate seat. What he says over an open phone line is astonishing. Still, Blagojevich is ruffling somebody's feathers in power for this bust to go down.

In a conversation with his Chief of Staff John Harris (also arrested) on November 11, the charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them."

"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."

At another point the FBI affidavit says Blagojevich had been told by an adviser "the President-elect can get Rod Bblagojevich's's wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the President-elect's pick to the Senate."

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;

Promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and

A cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

Also, according to the affidavit, intercepted phone calls revealed that the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs, has explored the possibility of obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) relating to the Tribune Company's efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field. In a November 6 phone call, Harris explained to Blagojevich that the deal the Tribune Company was trying to get through the IFA was basically a tax mitigation scheme in which the IFA would own title to Wrigley Field and the Tribune would not have to pay capital gains tax, which Harris estimated would save the company approximately $100 million.

Intercepted calls allegedly show that Blagojevich directed Harris to inform Tribune Owner and an associate, identified as Tribune Financial Advisor, that state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment. In a November 4 phone call, Blagojevich allegedly told Harris that he should say to Tribune Financial Advisor, Cubs Chairman and Tribune Owner, "our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support."

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