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Wheeler: Not “if,” but “when”

Friday, Feb 1, 2008

* I don’t think I’ve ever seen a normally “responsible” and otherwise cautious columnist go this far out on a limb on the topic of Gov. Blagojevich’s legal troubles…

Of course, Blagojevich may very well be innocent, and the conversations the feds say Cari and Levine had with him may never have occurred. Certainly, Levine’s recollections may have been influenced by his plea bargain’s prospect of trading life behind bars for 67 months.

But that’s for the jury or the judge to decide when Blagojevich goes to trial. His indictment, though, seems a certainty, based on what prosecutors say they will prove in the Rezko trial.

That was Charlie Wheeler, the normally staid budget-watcher at the always buttoned-down Illinois Issues magazine. He ends his piece thusly…

With the Rezko proffer, Illinois moves closer to an unwanted and lamentable distinction — having two former governors in federal prison at the same time.



- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Holdingontomywallet - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:28 am:

    Thoughts? I say it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

  2. - Niles Township - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:31 am:

    If Wheeler is talking this way, is there any doubt that we’ll soon be calling Pat, Governor Quinn.

  3. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:31 am:

    You can’t argue with his logic that the indictment will come. He points out that the allegations have to be proven. Still, for a guy like Charlie Wheeler, who could never be accused of “sensationalism to sell newspapers,” to choose to take a whack like that should sober up any grownups left in the Blago circle. Or drive them to drink.

  4. - Dirty Bath Water - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:34 am:

    Well, at least Illinois may lead the nation in some category.

  5. - Just saying - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:37 am:

    It is impossible to actually read the proffer and not reach the same conclusion.

  6. - Rhino - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:39 am:

    Charlie’s sub-head is “in essence, what federal prosecutors are showing the court in the document (the Rezko Santiago proffer) is the chain of evidence they intend to use to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal offenses they allege actually occurred.”

    As a former prosecutor of public corruption cases, I completely agree with his conclusion.

    It’s the way prosecutors make public corruption cases: catch somebody dirty, squeeze him, flip him, confirm the evidence with reliable sources and work your way up the line. If the little fish fall on their sword and don’t plead or cooperate, try them and, after they are convicted, give them an immunity bath and run them in front of the Grand Jury where they spill or do additional time for contempt or perjury.

    It works.

    Bye Milorod.

  7. - BIG R.PH. - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:45 am:

    ‘Bout time!!

    To Fitz:

    Git ‘er done!!

  8. - Levois - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:57 am:

    I don’t know what to say. I would have liked to have said good riddens to him back in 06. To my disappointment that didn’t happen and I would hate to see another governor going to prison especially if he’s indicted before his term is up. It’s kind of sad really!

  9. - RMW Stanford - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 11:58 am:

    I up until now I did not think that was much of chance of the Governor going to jail, but if some one like Charlie Wheeler is talking about it as a real possibility, then it starting to look like it might be real.

  10. - Wumpus - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:08 pm:

    Perhaps we could buld a federal penitentary in Springfield…or at least put a fence around the city to keep the crooks in there.

  11. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:10 pm:


    What say you? You are a little less buttoned-down than Charlie Wheeler, to say the least, and probably have good or better sources of info.

    Or are you waiting to write that blockbuster column at your paid gig?

  12. - Bookworm - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:13 pm:

    I’ll use a weather analogy here. If the sky is turning green, the wind is kicking up, and sirens are going off, you can reasonably conclude that a tornado is headed your way. Blago’s ethical cloud is displaying strong rotation and starting to take on a funnel shape. Time to sound the sirens!

  13. - B - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:13 pm:

    I think he’s right on. As it has been reported in the Chicago papers, the Gov has become, if he wasn’t from the beginning, the ultimate target behind the Rezko and Kelly cases. Just like Daley is likely the ultimate target of the several prosecutions of current and former city officials over the past couple years. Fitzgerald has no friends and is not interested in making any.

  14. - Bookworm - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:17 pm:

    Wumpus, you might want to consider sending Kurt Russell in to rescue all the non-crook state workers and other residents first :)

  15. - Bookworm - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:22 pm:

    That Blago will be indicted, I think, is a near certainty. That he will be convicted or do prison time, or be forced to leave office before his present term runs out, is much less certain.
    Also, given the pace of the legal wheels in the Ryan case and this one, I would expect Ryan to be either dead or out of prison before Blago ever gets there.

  16. - RMW Stanford - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:25 pm:

    If Governor Rod goes down, the question is what impact will have on the Democrat State Party and of course Bill

  17. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:26 pm:

    Charles N. Wheeler III is director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

    He is a man whose cognition is rarely questioned. So, what are we doing to get ready for this?

  18. - Napoleon has left the building - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:29 pm:

    Wishful thinking, really.

    I think that Fitzgerald and company move very slowly. Sure, it could happen but I say not likely anytime soon. And Chris Kelly is no Scott Fawell, he’s not going to start crying on the stand.

  19. - Justice - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:30 pm:

    Blagojevich was handed a mandate, then he turned stupid and betrayed our trust. I will delight in seeing him in prison. Where oh where do we find these Hockey Pucks? And yes, the Feds cross every “T” and dot every “I.” You can bet their case is rock solid and the ones on trial now will roll over in order to save themselves additional prison time. Charlie Wheeler is very much on target with his observation. Blagojevich is toast and I for one can’t wait to see his hacks fleeing like rats from a sinking ship.

  20. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:32 pm:

    I would note that the feds move notoriously slowly. I can easily see Blagojevich finishing his term before he’s convicted.

    But an indictment and trial of a sitting governor would be a big deal.

  21. - Siyotanka - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:33 pm:

    show me the subpoena….show me

  22. - Bookworm - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:35 pm:

    Anyone notice that Rezko, after just two days in jail, was begging his attorney and the judge to get on with the trial, even EARLY if they could? He must be ready to pop… in a big way.

  23. - BigDog - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:51 pm:

    This was one of the best articles I’ve read in quite awhile. A lot of old news rehashed, but then the dots are connected quite nicely for the reader. It should be required reading for anyone of voting age in the State of Illinois (and for anyone considering tossing any cash into Blago’s legal, er, I mean “campaign” fund).

  24. - If It Walks Like a Duck... - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:56 pm:

    In this state “You get what you pay for” - Now isn’t that Special!?! As in Special Prosecutor.

  25. - Chad - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 12:58 pm:

    I read the proffer, and it is very difficult to reach any other conculsion — Fitzgerald is after Blago, and has the goods. But recall that Fitzgerald is a cautious man. Just a short time ago Daniels was “about to be indicted,” but that is now either dropped or languishing because Fitzgerald is waiting for better evidence. I look for Blago to finish his term. Charlie is a straight shooter, and his measured article will surely get broad attention.

  26. - so-called "Austin Mayor" - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:01 pm:

    “Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming to roost never did make me sad, they’ve always made me glad.”

    – SCAM

  27. - Little Egypt - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:11 pm:

    In the past years while the wheels of justice were turning very slowly and Patrick Fitzgerld was cautiously climbing the ladder to reach GRyan, I felt 100% absolutely certain that Ryan was the ultimate target, would be indicted, tried, convicted and call the inside of a prison cell his home for a while.

    I am just as 100% absolutely certain the same thing will happen to Blago. GRyan tried to deflect the negative press and eroding support but also had enough sense to realize he did not want to be sitting in the governors office for another term. I’m sure another 4 years in that office would have been just as harrowing as it is now for Blago. I really can’t imagine Blago not having a “day or reckoning” with himself in a couple of more years and come to the same conclusion - that the thing to do is to hole up at his house as a private citizen, spend time with his family while he has the freedom to do so, and not have to subject himself to the everyday scrutiny of the press dogging him every time he turns around.

  28. - Crimefighter - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:12 pm:

    Two former governors in federal prison gets a “wow”? This hasn’t been the first time this has been ever thought of? Come on.

  29. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:13 pm:

    Chad, there’s another possible explanation of why you haven’t heard about Daniels lately. Think about it.

  30. - scoot - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:19 pm:

    It is the strongest article yet about Pub official A…who will no doubt get indicted. But, to me the Kelly trial would seem to be more damaging,no? Kelly is the guvs Fawell in my mind. Either way this Gov is in trouble. Two in a row is truly a disgrace!

  31. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:19 pm:

    Wordslinger, the statute of limitations has passed and Daniels’ former chief of staff did prison time. Not sure what you meant, but let’s stick to the point here.

  32. - Chad - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:19 pm:

    WS: That would probably be that Tristano was fully or mostly responsible, and Daniels kept sufficient distance. This is somewhat counter to observations of these two during their years in the House.

  33. - Disgusted - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:28 pm:

    To Napoleon, 12:29p

    You wanna bet that Kelly won’t tear up and sing?
    No man is going to take years in prison for another, unless it’s a beloved son. What’s Blago going to do for him if he keeps quiet. He’s in no position to grant any more favors and Kelly has a home and family he doesn’t want to lose.

  34. - Loop Lady - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:32 pm:

    I think Rod will unfortunately finish most, if not all of his second term before the hand of the law grabs him…Fitzgerald hasn’t even started the Rezko trial, his dubious conduct will eventually be linked to Blago, evidence will be amassed, and witnesses queried, I’d say Spring of 2009 is the earliest the indictment will be handed down…

  35. - IncrediblyDumberThanYouTHink - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:38 pm:

    Chad and WS:
    Most believe Daniels beat Tristano to the flipper switch. He was probably able to help with Stu Levine when push came to shove. Remember Stu was a big backer of HRCC and Lee back in the good old days

    Back to CaptFax’s point…
    We are sure the Wheeler’s comment is baseless. He must be jealous of all our accomplishments. The world will see how enlightened he becomes when Fuumbles Harris cuts off the power to his office.

    BTW that will happen just as soon as Funbles gets back from the Super Bowl weekend in the desert.
    Any report on how badly Slick Willie spanked the Devil Madigan in Court today?

  36. - DE - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 1:57 pm:

    death penalty morotorium and free senior rides. nice guys like us do not deserve jail time,

  37. - Come on - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 2:03 pm:

    This is a very irresponsible post.

  38. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 2:09 pm:

    How so?

  39. - el Conquistador - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 2:14 pm:

    What I find staggering is that Wheeler’s conclusion is surprising… If you don’t believe that the Rezko trial is going to be the rain making event for additional indictments, including the Gov, you must be living in a fantasy world. The kickback schemes and those involved will be revealed. Influence peddling schemes including contract give aways and hiring misdeeds will exposed as well.

    It appears that the Fed’s tact of stepping up the pressure on Rezko by revoking his bond has worked better than they could have hoped. He’s actually requesting the trial date be moved up??? He’s freaking out. Kelly will likewise crumble. Keep in mind these guys possess an entitled arrogance beyond most folks comprehension. When faced with the reality of prison it’s over.

    Prepare yourself for the ridiculous timing of the Gov givinh his State of the State/Budget address just days before the opening arguments of the Rezko trial. His credibility will be less than zero.

    It is incredibly sad that few realized what this Administration was before he/they were re-elected. Most of the illegalities were done in 03, 04 and 05. It is over except for embarrassing blood bath.

    And you’re surprised??? Baffling.

  40. - IncrediblyDumberThanYouTHink - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 2:15 pm:

    Come on must not believe in tampering with the jury pool which is Reason #1 for Free Rides

  41. - Little Egypt - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 2:24 pm:

    El Con…A Rezko trial date of Feb. 25 moved BACK to March 3 is not what I call moving a trial up.

  42. - Distant Observer - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 2:29 pm:

    If there is no indictment by Halloween, there may not be one at all: Fitz will need to be re-appointed in Feb ‘09 which, depending on the election may or may not happen. A new US Attny for N Dist of IL may have to take a long time to get familiar with workings of the office while the statute runs. Just saying . . . don’t pin your hopes on an indictment.

  43. - el Conquistador - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 2:37 pm:

    Sorry, but I was referring to his initial response and AP description of his atty. as shaken.

    “Rezko initially said he’d rather the trial start sooner, but he ended up agreeing to the weeklong delay.”

  44. - Huh? - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 2:50 pm:

    “Charles N. Wheeler III is director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield.”

    I wonder if Mr. Wheeler is an at-will employee….

    Could he lose his job over this article?

  45. - Anon - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 3:03 pm:

    no more likely at this point than the IG, Auditor General losing theirs…..but if he said it two years ago, then maybe then…..

  46. - D - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 3:59 pm:

    Charlie Wheeler is about to see his 4th Governor(perhaps first sitting)get indicted and sent to Federal prison in the 38+ years his has been covering Illinois politics. That is a sad commentary on our great State and Illinois politics.

  47. - Just Asking - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 4:01 pm:

    Speaking of tampering with the jury pool, maybe the Gov’s inditment is just waiting until the jury is seated in the Rezko trial.

    We can dream can’t we!

  48. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 4:40 pm:

    What’s interesting is, assuming guilt, why did he have to toady up to guys like Rezko and Levine at all just to beef up his campaign chest.

    We understand why he felt he had to load up the
    Illinois civil service with patronage employees, even if we don’t agree (and agencies like DHS,
    Public Health and DCFS, prime agencies for patronage hires, have deteriorated sharply under
    Blago’s watch.). All pols do that when they get into power, especially when a change of party in power is involved. But he is a comparatively well off man and his wife’s family is wealthy. No legitimate fears for a penurious retirement.
    Did he really need to raise all that money. After all, he won re-election in a walk and JBT, however charming, was clearly never a real threat. If there is one state in the Union where the Republicans are not a threat to a sitting pol,
    it’s here. There are neither personal nor professional reasons why he should become involved with unethical and sleazy business persons like
    Rezko or Levine.

    Because he could….it’s the only explanation.

  49. - ThinkingOutLoud - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 5:15 pm:

    Maybe while he’s waiting for the Feds to complete their investigation, Mr. Indictovich could call a special session to introduce legislation that would turn the Governor’s Mansion into a minimum security prison. It’s fenced in and security cameras are in place. In hopes that this legislation will become law, maybe Tony and Chris would seek donations to Mr. Indictovich’s legal defense fund!

  50. - bassman - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 6:52 pm:

    Well…I can’t say its not going to happen, and I can’t say it will…but with all that has gone on in various state agencies, mostly tanking due to lack of staff; lack of budgets; swiping funds from every category; consultant contracts galore and the swelling of CMS, or should I say the Public Mafia…there’s enough for an army of Federal Prosecuters to make a career over.

  51. - annon - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 6:53 pm:

    well…. can’t say it’s a surprise. it’s about the right time frame. took them what 6-7 years on ryan ….4-5 years on blago. question is…what’s taken so long. i think a few others may be joining him.

  52. - North of I-80 - Saturday, Feb 2, 08 @ 1:06 pm:

    1) Oh my oh my… aren’t we all surprised?
    2) ISP will regain use of state plane & pilots
    3) we will save on air transportation costs
    4) we better not get whacked for any of his legal bills.
    5) Maybe a real clean-house movement will happen so we don’t have to go through this humiliation again

  53. - defenselawyer - Sunday, Feb 3, 08 @ 12:58 pm:

    Feds have to flip at least two more people. And they won’t indict a sitting governor unless that case is airtight.These cases are not simple or easy to build. So have patience - and his actual conviction and sentencing could not happen until after his term is over anyway. So Governor Quinn would have to run and get elected on his own.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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