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December 9, 2008
IL Governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff arrested (updated)
We've been predicting it here at AT for weeks. The trail of extraordinary and sickening corruption left by Governor Rod Blagojevich has finally caught up with him. He and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested by federal authorities today and charged with a wide ranging criminal conspiracy including the brand new allegations - unbelievable anywhere else except Illinois - that Blagojevich was seeking to sell Barack Obama's senate seat:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges.
Blagojevich and Harris were accused of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that included Blagojevich conspiring to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama in exchange for financial benefits for the governor and his wife. The governor was also accused of obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for other official actions.
Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North Side home this morning.
A Blagojevich spokesman said he was unaware of the development. "Haven't heard anything -- you are first to call," Lucio Guerrero said in an e-mail.
The stunning, early morning visit by authorities to the governor's North Side home came amid revelations that federal investigators had recorded the governor with the cooperation of a longtime confidant and had begun to focus on the possibility that the process of choosing a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama could be tainted by pay-to-play politics.
Blagojevich was taken into custody hours after the Tribune reported that the investigation into allegations of pay-to-play politics within his administration had been expanded to include his pending choice of a Senate replacement for Obama. The Democratic governor has said he expects to make a decision on the state's next senator in weeks.
Sources told the Tribune that investigators intensified their investigation into Blagojevich amid concerns that the process of choosing a new senator could be tainted. The actions by federal authorities came a day before Blagojevich's 52nd birthday.
The feds moved in today because of new information that Governor Blagojevich was apparently trying to sell the Obama senate seat made it imperative that they move quickly - otherwise anyone he chooses would be tainted.
Hard to see any difference if he's charged prior to naming someone or afterwards. It still stinks of rotten fish in my book.
Other than trying to profit from choosing Obama's successor, the governor is charged with a pay to play scheme involving state agencies where campaign contributions were basically extorted in exchange for the contributor being allowed to receive state contracts. A key witness in that part of the case will no doubt be Barack Obama's good friend Tony Rezko who pleaded guilty to corruption charges in connection with the scheme
Blagojevich will be the 4th Illinois governor out of the last 7 charged with corruption either while in or out of office. You can't get any sorrier than that.
Here's some reaction from American Thinker's experts:
Ed Lasky, News Director:
This guy has to be the stupidest man alive..he has been under investigation for years yet still tries to pull scams recently - including trying to sell Obama's senate seat as late as last month.
It would have been good to have had this come out before election in order to highlight the Chicago machine and its corruption. This is Obama’s playing field. The luckiest man alive. This also puts pressure on Obama to keep Fitzgerald in his position-which could cause Obama problems later on.
He was running a bazaar-without a license.
Rich Baehr, Political Correspondent:
It was well known in 2006 when Blago ran for re-election that he was for sale as a result of the pay to play charges. Yet he won re-election by almost a 10% margin. Illinois has replaced louisiana as the state where stealing by public officials is not viewed as a crime by voters.
Here's a link to the indictment that runs 76 pages (PDF required).