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Big Tom

Illinois governor in federal custody on corruption charges

151 posts in this topic

I don't see any reason to start flinging it at Obama yet and these are just allegations at this point, but this could get very interesting in a hurry as the allegations center around the appointment to fill his pending vacated Senate seat. Chicago politics have always been dirty, but this borders on the absurd.

(CNN) -- FBI agents arrested Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday on federal corruption charges in part related to the selection of President-elect Barack Obama's successor, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Rod Blagojevich is currently serving his second term as governor of Illinois.

Federal officers took Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris -- also arrested on corruption charges -- into custody at around 6:30 a.m. (7:30 a.m. ET) without incident, FBI spokesman Ross Rice told CNN.

Each was charged with a count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and a count of solicitation of bribery, authorities said.

The government says the two were "conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits" for the Illinois governor by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a U.S. senator to replace Obama.

The Obama transition team is aware that Blagojevich is in federal custody, but has no comment, according to a senior Democratic source.

The government also accuses Blagojevich and Harris of threatening to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Company -- the company that owns the Chicago Tribune -- in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field baseball stadium. The company also owns the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.

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In exchange for assistance, the governor and his chief of staff wanted the newspaper to fire Chicago Tribune editorial board members who were sharply critical of the governor, the government said.

It alleged the two also sought to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions.Blagojevich and Harris will appear later Tuesday in court, the attorney's office said.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said Tuesday that it's "a sad day."

The investigation into Blagojevich and Harris has been going on for several years, Rice said. Tuesday's arrests are "pretty much a culmination of that case," he said.

"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement. "They allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism."

In a 76-page affidavit, federal authorities say wiretaps caught Blagojevich conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat in exchange for financial benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

At times, he discussed obtaining a substantial salary for himself at a non-profit organization or an organization affiliated with labor unions, as well as placing his wife on paid corporate boards where she might make as much as $150,000 a year, the government said.

During one recorded conversation, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and said he was "financially" hurting, the affidavit said.

"I want to make money," Blagojevich said, according to the affidavit.

The intercepted phone calls also caught the the governor and Harris discussing the possibility of the Tribune Company's obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority in efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field, the government said.

Blagojevich allegedly directed Harris to tell Tribune officials that state assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board were fired. The Illinois governor saw them as "driving discussion of his possible impeachment," the affidavit said.

"Our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support," the governor allegedly said in one phone call.

Reports from the Chicago Tribune last week said federal authorities were investigating the governor and were secretly taping his conversations -- with the help of his former congressional chief of staff, John Wyem.

"I don't believe there's any cloud that hangs over me," Blagojevich told WLS-TV in Chicago on Monday, as he responded to the reports of wiretapping. "I think there's nothing but sunshine hanging over me."

He added, "By the way, I should say if anyone wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly."

Blagojevich, who turns 52 on Wednesday, is in his second four-year term as Illinois governor. His term ends January 2011.

Before that, he served as a U.S. Congressman for Illinois' 5th district from 1997 until 2003, according to his online biography.

He and his wife have two daughters.

Blagojevich announced last month that he was forming a panel to review candidates to replace Obama's Senate seat.

Several Illinois Democrats -- including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, a former congressional candidate who now serves in Blagojevich's administration -- have been mentioned as possible Senate replacements for Obama.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reacted to the news, saying "I talked to the governor a few days ago, of course, about the Senate appointment and of course I'm very disappointed."

"Any time a high-ranking official, governor of a state like Illinois -- especially -- it reflects bad on government generally. I'm terribly disappointed and concerned," he added.

When asked what Blagojevich's arrest means for the appointment of Obama's Senate successor, Reid said he wasn't sure.

"I don't know. Maybe it means the lieutenant governor does it. I don't know."

The state's last governor, George Ryan, was convicted in April 2006 on racketeering and fraud charges.

Ryan reported to a federal prison in Wisconsin in November 2007 to serve a 6½-year sentence. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of the United States said it would not hear an appeal from Ryan.

On December 1, Sen. [PoorWordUsage] Durbin, D-Ilinois, asked President Bush to consider commuting Ryan's sentence, saying Ryan "has already paid a significant price" for his crimes.

"George Ryan is 74 years old. He has lost his state pension benefits and a commutation will not restore them. He would emerge from prison facing economic uncertainty at this advanced stage of his life," Durbin

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In Illinois? Chicago? I'm shocked! At least our new President wasn't a senator there long enough to become indoctrined into the way government really works. wink

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That's right, the Chicago political machine is still alive and well and now it has produced a President elect...

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Its still alive and well but will need a new head here shortly. It sounds like the second straight Illinois gov is going straight to jail.

I wonder does the jail down there have separate section just for politicians?

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Sounds like Ill. is a monopoly game without the Capones&family.Just went over to the fine govt. leaders.

And they thought the street crime rate was high??

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The completely baseless and unfounded guilt by association is always entertaining. Thanks.

I have a feeling a few of you may be eating crow after all the facts emerge. wink

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I told you, I told you, I told you!

Could we be seeing a blanket pardon for all of B-Rocks boys in the future? Rezko, Blago, et al!!!

Windy

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“**** him,” Blagjoveich says of Obama during a lengthy call with top aides and his wife recorded on November 10th, “For nothing? **** him.”

Yes, I'm sure the pardon is imminent.

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you guys act like the people on the other side of the isle haven't done anything wrong. Mr. Stevens let me guess wrongly covicted. Mr.Bush hasn't even started his pardon list yet, it's coming and let me guess that everyone on the list is wrongly convicted. You know if the American people would come together for a change instead of pointing the finger (like after 9/11) this country would be even greater. Just remember the ring-wing and left-wing wackos are running this country and everyone in the middle are getting the short end of the stick. Support our troops!!

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If he was discussing $500,000 for the senate seat, how much would a pardon cost in him in the Illinois political system?

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Now that the GOP is done filling the jails with themselves in the past few years its now the democrats turn to start filling the jails

and yet, these are the same people who want to run your health care and send your kids off to war

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I can't believe that Fitzgerald stopped the investigation.

Either they had all they wanted or someone they did not want to take down got their nose under the tent.

they could have let this go awhile and looked at who bellied up to the bidding block. But NO. We get a US attorney that didn't have the guts to go any farther or was told to back off as not to implicate certain parties.

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It turns out candidate #5 was Jesse Jacksons Jr. Just what the world needs, a second JJ in power. Thank goodness that never happened. The first one is bad enough as it is.

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I heard this joker hasn't resigned and is going back to work. He should be locked up.

Charged with federal corruption, he's out on $4500.00 bail. crazy

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He is out and back to work boys. On "critical state matters" according to Blago. The paper shredders are working overtime in Crook County, my home sweet home!

Mark my words boys, this is far from over, this thing is going to go vertical, big time, all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. You don't rise as quickly as B-Rock did in Chicago politics without the help of some unsavory characters. He has already had his spokesperson, David Axelrod, come out and say he "misspoke" and did not mean that B-Rock had actually spoke to Blago", yeah right! Go to the tapes, you can tell that Axelrod spoke the truth the first time and that he was "creating" the second time, ditto for B-Rock saying that he had not spoken to Blago.

Once the federallies nail Mrs. Blago and they turn up the heat, Rod will start singing and then let the games begin! It is gonna be interesting.

Windy

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I hope, for the sake of our country, that BHO is not in on these accusations or any purtaining to this. I didn't vote for him, but he is our pres elect now and if he goes down and we end up with that moron he picked for VP, we are doooooomed!!

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Sand,

I can't predict what will happen but I can tell you the local buzz has his fingerprints all over this. Fitzgerald won't act premature, he will wait till he has his prey in his site and has a clean shot before taking it but he is an elephant killer and has bagged some pretty big game in his career. I don't think he will miss on this one. Stay tuned. I just wish some of this had come out prior to Nov 4th, instead the liberal media elected him the messiah and gave him a total pass on checking into his past and the liberal masses quickly slurped up every morsel the press threw at them and rushed to the voting booths. You asked for it, you got it! But this one won't be a Toyota, might turn out to be an Edsel.

Windy

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I'm with ya Shane. It'd be horrible to see the pres elect go down within a few months of taking the oath. The only thing worse would be seeing president Biden. We dont need president Biden and we dont need senator JJ Jr.

But maybe that's why they stopped the investigation to protect someone and make sure the evidence didn't build to high against a certain politician from Illinois. It kind of sounds like someone with ties to the Obama camp knew something like this was going on.

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