Tuesday, December 09, 2008

For Sale: Federal Senate Seat to Highest Bidder

As readers are probably aware, Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested this morning on charges that he has ben attempting to sell the vacant U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President-Elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald on Tuesday accused Illinois Gov. Rod
Blagojevich of participating in a "political corruption crime spree" that was a
blatant effort to sell the state's U.S. Senate seat in the latest "pay-to-play"
scheme in Illinois politics.

Fitzgerald described the alleged behavior by Blagojevich, who was
arrested Tuesday morning along with his chief of staff, John Harris, as
"appalling." He said his "cynical behavior" reached "a truly new

"He has been arrested in the middle of what we can only describe as a
political corruption crime spree," Fitzgerald said in a news conference to
announce the charges against the governor and his chief of staff. "This is a sad
day for government. It's a very sad day for Illinois government. Governor
Blagojevich has taken us to a truly new low."

As if this isn't bad enough, Blagojevich also seemed to believe that the editorial freedom of the press was his to flirt with:

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
Tribunes 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.

So fire editorial board members critical of the Governor, and get the State assistance you were asking for, otherwise it will be withheld. We already know that the President-Elect would like to reinstitute the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" to silence his opposition. This is apparently the way the Democratic Party does business in the modern era-if the opposition makes you uncomfortable, just find ways to shut them up. Of course, a familiar name has come up in all of this mess:

The charges include historical allegations that Blagojevich and Harris schemed
with others - including previously convicted defendants
, Stuart Levine, Ali Ata and others - since becoming governor in
2002 to obtain and attempt to obtain financial benefits for himself, his family
and third parties, including his campaign committee, Friends of Blagojevich, in
exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment,
state contracts and access to state funds.

Antoin "Tony" Rezko is the man who bankrolled much of the early political career of the President-Elect of the United States. Did Blagojevich believe he might benefit from Barack Obama's election?

Over the next couple of days - Election Day and the day after - Blagojevich
was captured discussing with Deputy Governor A whether he could obtain a cabinet
position, such as Secretary of Health and Human Services or the Department of
Energy or various ambassadorships. In a conversation with Harris on November 4,
Blagojevich analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a
potential free agent to the highest bidder.

On November 10, Blagojevich, his wife, Harris, Governor General Counsel,
Advisor B and other Washington-based advisors participated at different times in
a two-hour phone call in which they allegedly discussed, among other things, a
deal involving the Service Employees International Union. Harris said they could
work out a deal with the union and the President-elect where SEIU could help the
President-elect with Blagojevichs appointment of Senate Candidate 1, while
Blagojevich would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to
Win campaign and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in
the future.

Now why would Blagojevich think he could make that kind of deal with Obama?

For the record, the unnamed Senate candidate mentioned removed themself from consideration, probably because they didn't want to sell themselves to the highest bidder.

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