According to The Chicago Tribune:
Illinois Gov. Blagojevich, chief of staff, arrested
Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning.
Blagojevich and Harris were arrested simultaneously at their homes at about 6:15 a.m., according to Frank Bochte of the FBI. Both were transported to FBI headquarters in Chicago.
In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself as secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union, in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.
So the governor’s office was offering to sell Obama’s vacant seat for the right price. It sounds like standard operating procedure for the Chicago political machine.
But Barack Obama is the child and beneficiary of that same machine. Who bought his chance at a Senate seat for him? And what price was paid for it?
It gets even more interesting:
Another charge alleges Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of him in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.
The Tribune has just filed for Chapter 11, and one of the aggravating financial circumstances for it is the Wrigley Field white elephant. And yet here it is today, calmly reporting the fact that elements of its own management were attempting dirty deals with the governor to help it unload Wrigley Field.
What’s going on here? Is this sudden outburst of civic-minded journalism designed to make it look better to potential new investors when the paper emerges from Chapter 11?
Governor Blagojevich was evidently trying to grab a fistful of dollars as well a sinecure with the Obama administration:
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Corruption timeline Multimedia Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts, according to the charges.
“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.”
The President-Elect, needless to say, knew nothing about the whole ugly affair:
Obama told reporters he was “saddened and sobered” by Blagojevich’s arrest.
“I was not aware of what was happening,” Obama said. “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening.”
Just Like Bill Ayers, or Tony Rezko, or the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, or Rashid Khalidi. All those questionable extremists and sleazebags dropped into a low orbit around BHO, but somehow he never noticed them, never talked to them, and never had any contact with them, even when they sat on boards with him, or dumped boatloads of cash into his campaign, or preached sermons right in front of him about the white devil, or bought him a house.
Didn’t see nothin’.
One intriguing aspect of this business is the possibility that Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, was one of the people who turned Gov. Blagojevich in:
A reporter at a Fox affiliate in Chicago says he received a tip that Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s pick for chief of staff, blew the whistle on the Democratic governor.
Curiouser and curiouser.
For the full information on the substance of the case, see the Chicago FBI website. Tony Rezko is named as one of those involved, and he has already been convicted on corruption charges. Is it possible that the severity of his sentence was tied to his co-operation in nailing the higher-ups?
And who is higher up than Rod Blagojevich? Who can he finger to help shorten his term in the slammer, or at least make himself more comfortable during his stay with the federal corrections authorities?
Beyond the fact that it is a sewer of corruption, I know very little about Chicago and its politics. If there are any Illinois residents among our readers, please feel free to amplify on these matters in the comments.