Illinois Governor Arrested
Governor Rod Blagojevich is being accused of conspiring to give the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama to the highest bidder. He’s also being charged with threatening to withhold state assistance to the Chicago Tribune unless certain people at the paper who were critical of him were fired.
A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.
Otherwise, Blagojevich considered appointing himself. The affidavit said that as late as Nov. 3, he told his deputy governor that if “they’re not going to offer me anything of value I might as well take it.”
“I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain,” Blagojevich allegedly said later that day, according to the affidavit, which also quoted him as saying in a remark punctuated by profanity that the seat was “a valuable thing – you just don’t give it away for nothing.”
The affidavit said Blagojevich also discussed getting a substantial salary for himself at a nonprofit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.
It said Blagojevich also talked about getting his wife placed on corporate boards where she might get $150,000 a year in director’s fees.
He also allegedly discussed getting campaign funds for himself or possibly a post in the president’s cabinet or an ambassadorship once he left the governor’s office. He noted becoming a U.S. senator might remake his image for a possible presidential run in 2016, according to the affidavit. And he allegedly said a Senate seat would also provide him with corporate contacts if he needed a job and present an opportunity for his wife to work as a lobbyist.
“I want to make money,” the affidavit quotes him as saying in one conversation.
The affidavit said Blagojevich expressed frustration at being “stuck” as governor and that he would have access to greater resources if he were indicted while in the U.S. Senate than while sitting as governor.
U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a statement that “the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering.”Click here for reuse options!
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