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Feds take Gov. Blagojevich into custody

Tuesday, Dec 9, 2008


* 8:06 am - From the Tribune

A source said today that Gov. Rod Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North Side home this morning. The U.S. attorney’s office would not confirm the information, and a spokesman for the governor did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

* 8:11 am - An administrative spokesman said just now that he had no information. A source claims that the FBI was at his house about 20 minutes ago.

* 8:35 am - From ABC 7

According to the source, the governor is now at FBI headquarters on the city’s West Side, where he is in the custody of federal authorities.

Officials are expected to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Gov. Blagojevich may also make a court appearance later today.

* 8:45 am - From the US Attorney…

CHICAGO – Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.

Blagojevich, 51, and Harris, 46, both of Chicago, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. They were charged in a two-count criminal complaint that was sworn out on Sunday and unsealed today following their arrests, which occurred without incident, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Both men were expected to appear later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:

o a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;

o placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;

o promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and

o a cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might “get some (money) up front, maybe” from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on October 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator.”

On November 7, while talking on the phone about the Senate seat with Harris and an advisor, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and that he is “financially” hurting, the affidavit states. Harris allegedly said that they were considering what would help the “financial security” of the Blagojevich family and what will keep Blagojevich “politically viable.” Blagojevich stated, “I want to make money,” adding later that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 a year, the complaint alleges.

On November 10, in a lengthy telephone call with numerous advisors that included discussion about Blagojevich obtaining a lucrative job with a union-affiliated organization in exchange for appointing a particular Senate Candidate whom he believed was favored by the President-elect and which is described in more detail below, Blagojevich and others discussed various ways Blagojevich could “monetize” the relationships he has made as governor to make money after leaving that office. “The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “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 citizens of Illinois deserve public officials who act solely in the public’s interest, without putting a price tag on government appointments, contracts and decisions,” he added.

Mr. Grant said: “Many, including myself, thought that the recent conviction of a former governor would usher in a new era of honesty and reform in Illinois politics. Clearly, the charges announced today reveal that the office of the Governor has become nothing more than a vehicle for self-enrichment, unrestricted by party affiliation and taking Illinois politics to a new low.”

Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Grant thanked the Chicago offices of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General for assisting in the ongoing investigation. The probe is part of Operation Board Games, a five-year-old public corruption investigation of pay-to-play schemes, including insider-dealing, influence-peddling and kickbacks involving private interests and public duties.

Federal agents today also executed search warrants at the offices of Friends of Blagojevich located at 4147 North Ravenswood, Suite 300, and at the Thompson Center office of Deputy Governor A.

Pay-to-Play Schemes

The charges include historical allegations that Blagojevich and Harris schemed with others – including previously convicted defendants Antoin Rezko, 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. A portion of the affidavit recounts the testimony of various witnesses at Rezko’s trial earlier this year.

The charges focus, however, on events since October when the Government obtained information that Blagojevich and Fundraiser A, who is chairman of Friends of Blagojevich, were accelerating Blagojevich’s allegedly corrupt fund-raising activities to accumulate as much money as possible this year before a new state ethics law would severely curtail Blagojevich’s ability to raise money from individuals and entities that have existing contracts worth more than $50,000 with the State of Illinois. Agents learned that Blagojevich was seeking approximately $2.5 million in campaign contributions by the end of the year, principally from or through individuals or entities – many of which have received state contacts or appointments – identified on a list maintained by Friends of Blagojevich, which the FBI has obtained.

The affidavit details multiple incidents involving efforts by Blagojevich to obtain campaign contributions in connection with his official actions as governor, including these three in early October:

* After an October 6 meeting with Harris and Individuals A and B, during which Individual B sought state help with a business venture, Blagojevich told Individual A to approach Individual B about raising $100,000 for Friends of Blagojevich this year. Individual A said he later learned that Blagojevich reached out directly to Individual B to ask about holding a fund-raiser;

o Also on October 6, Blagojevich told Individual A that he expected Highway Contractor 1 to raise $500,000 in contributions and that he was willing to commit additional state money to a Tollway project – beyond $1.8 billion that Blagojevich announced on October15 – but was waiting to see how much money the contractor raised for Friends of Blagojevich; and

o On October 8, Blagojevich told Individual A that he wanted to obtain a $50,000 contribution from Hospital Executive 1, the chief executive officer of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, which had recently received a commitment of $8 million in state funds. When the contribution was not forthcoming, Blagojevich discussed with Deputy Governor A the feasibility of rescinding the funding.

On October 21, the Government obtained a court order authorizing the interception of conversations in both a personal office and a conference room used by Blagojevich at the offices of Friends of Blagojevich. The FBI began intercepting conversations in those rooms on the morning of October 22. A second court order was obtained last month allowing those interceptions to continue. On October 29, a court order was signed authorizing the interception of conversations on a hardline telephone used by Blagojevich at his home. That wiretap was extended for 30 days on November 26, according to the affidavit.

Another alleged example of a pay-to-play scheme was captured in separate telephone conversations that Blagojevich had with Fundraiser A on November 13 and Lobbyist 1 on December 3. Lobbyist 1 was reporting to Blagojevich about his efforts to collect a contribution from Contributor 1 and related that he “got in his face” to make it clear to Contributor 1 that a commitment to make a campaign contribution had to be done now, before there could be some skittishness over the timing of the contribution and Blagojevich signing a bill that would benefit Contributor 1. Blagojevich commented to Lobbyist 1 “good” and “good job.” The bill in question, which is awaiting Blagojevich ’s signature, is believed to be legislation that directs a percentage of casino revenue to the horse racing industry.

Sale of U.S. Senate Appointment

Regarding the Senate seat, the charges allege that Blagojevich, Harris and others have engaged and are engaging in efforts to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, to benefit Blagojevich and his family through corruptly using Blagojevich’s sole authority to appoint a successor to the unexpired term of the President-elect’s former Senate seat, which he resigned effective November 16. The affidavit details numerous conversations about the Senate seat between November 3 and December 5. In these conversations, Blagojevich repeatedly discussed the attributes of potential candidates, including their abilities to benefit the people of Illinois, and the financial and political benefits he and his wife could receive if he appointed various of the possible candidates.

Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being “stuck” as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife’s employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office.

In the earliest intercepted conversation about the Senate seat described in the affidavit, Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A on November 3 that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he will take it for himself: “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.” Later that day, speaking to Advisor A, Blagojevich said: “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.” He added later that the seat “is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

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. The day after the election, Harris allegedly suggested to Blagojevich that the President-elect could make him the head of a private foundation.

Later on November 5, Blagojevich said to Advisor A, “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there,” the affidavit states.

Two days later, in a three-way call with Harris and Advisor B, a consultant in Washington, Blagojevich and the others allegedly discussed the prospect of a three-way deal for the Senate appointment involving an organization called “Change to Win,” which is affiliated with various unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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 SEIU. Harris said they could work out a deal with the union and the President-elect where SEIU could help the President-elect with Blagojevich’s 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. Also during that call, Blagojevich agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding him.

In a conversation with Harris on November 11, the charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.” Earlier in that conversation, Blagojevich suggested starting a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, which he could head and engage in political activity and lobbying. In that conversation with Harris and other discussions with him and others over the next couple of days, Blagojevich suggested by name several well-known, wealthy individuals who could be prevailed upon to seed such an organization with $10-$15 million, and suggesting that he could take the organization’s reins when he is no longer governor, according to the affidavit.

On November 12, Blagojevich spoke with SEIU Official who was in Washington. This conversation occurred about a week after Blagojevich had met with SEIU Official to discuss the Senate seat, with the understanding that the union official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1’s interest in the Senate seat. During the November 12 conversation, Blagojevich allegedly explained the non-profit organization idea to SEIU Official and said that it could help Senate Candidate 1. The union official agreed to “put that flag up and see where it goes,” although the official also had said he wasn’t certain if Senate Candidate 1 wanted the official to keep pushing her candidacy. Senate Candidate 1 eventually removed herself from consideration for the open seat.

Also on November 12, in a conversation with Harris, the complaint affidavit states that Blagojevich said his decision about the open Senate seat will be based on three criteria in the following order of importance: “our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon that. Legal. Personal. Political.” Harris said: “legal is the hardest one to satisfy.” Blagojevich said that his legal problems could be solved by naming himself to the Senate seat.

As recently as December 4, in separate conversations with Advisor B and Fundraiser A, Blagojevich said that he was “elevating” Senate Candidate 5 on the list of candidates because, among other reasons, if Blagojevich ran for re-election, Senate Candidate 5 would “raise[] money” for him. Blagojevich said that he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided Blagojevich with something “tangible up front.” Noting that he was going to meet with Senate Candidate 5 in the next few days, Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to reach out to an intermediary (Individual D), from whom Blagojevich is attempting to obtain campaign contributions and who Blagojevich believes is close to Senate Candidate 5. Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that Senate Candidate 5 was a very realistic candidate but Blagojevich was getting a lot of pressure not to appoint Senate Candidate 5, according to the affidavit.

Blagojevich allegedly told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that if Senate Candidate 5 is going to be chosen, “some of this stuff’s gotta start happening now . . . right now . . . and we gotta see it.” Blagojevich continued, “You gotta be careful how you express that and assume everybody’s listening, the whole world is listening. You hear me?” Blagojevich further directed Fundraiser A to talk to Individual D in person, not by phone, and to communicate the “urgency” of the situation.

Blagojevich spoke to Fundraiser A again the next day, December 5, and discussed that day’s Chicago Tribune front page article stating that Blagojevich had recently been surreptitiously recorded as part of the ongoing criminal investigation. Blagojevich instructed Fundraiser A to “undo your [Individual D] thing,” and Fundraiser A confirmed it would be undone, the complaint alleges.

Also on December 5, Blagojevich and three others allegedly discussed whether to move money out of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund to avoid having the money frozen by federal authorities and also considered the possibility of prepaying the money to Blagojevich’s criminal defense attorney with an understanding that the attorney would donate the money back at a later time if it was not needed. They also discussed opening a new fund raising account named Citizens for Blagojevich with new contributions.

Misuse of State Funding To Induce Firing of Chicago Tribune Editorial Writers

According to the affidavit, intercepted phone calls revealed that the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs, has explored the possibility of obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) relating to the Tribune Company’s efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field. In a November 6 phone call, Harris explained to Blagojevich that the deal the Tribune Company was trying to get through the IFA was basically a tax mitigation scheme in which the IFA would own title to Wrigley Field and the Tribune would not have to pay capital gains tax, which Harris estimated would save the company approximately $100 million.

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 Tribune’s 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.”

On November 6, the day of a Tribune editorial critical of Blagojevich , Harris told Blagojevich that he told Tribune Financial Advisor the previous day that things “look like they could move ahead fine but, you know, there is a risk that all of this is going to get derailed by your own editorial page.” Harris also told Blagojevich that he was meeting with Tribune Financial Advisor on November 10.

In a November 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner “got the message and is very sensitive to the issue.” Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be “certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he’s going after that section.” Blagojevich allegedly responded. “Oh. That’s fantastic.” After further discussion, Blagojevich said, “Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You’re the man. Good job, John.”

In a further conversation on November 21, Harris told Blagojevich that he had singled out to Tribune Financial Advisor the Tribune’s deputy editorial page editor, John McCormick, “as somebody who was the most biased and unfair.” After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured Harris that the Tribune would be making changes affecting the editorial board, Blagojevich allegedly had a series of conversations with Chicago Cubs representatives regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field. On November 30, Blagojevich spoke with the president of a Chicago-area sports consulting firm, who indicated that he was working with the Cubs on matters involving Wrigley Field. Blagojevich and Sports Consultant discussed the importance of getting the IFA transaction approved at the agency’s December or January meeting because Blagojevich was contemplating leaving office in early January and his IFA appointees would still be in place to approve the deal, the charges allege.

The Government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reid Schar, Carrie Hamilton and Christopher Niewoehner.

If convicted, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that a complaint contain only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Greg - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:14 am:

    Nice pre-inauguration guess, Rich!

  2. - OurMagician - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:15 am:

    Will Dick Durbin ask for pre-commutation? Patti is probably missing her husband too.

  3. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:16 am:

    Christmas comes early?

  4. - How Ironic - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:16 am:

    Do they allow hair brushes in prison?

  5. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:16 am:

    Basically an up day.

  6. - South Side Mike - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:17 am:

    It’s a good thing I wasn’t taking a sip of anything or else my screen and keyboard would need a good cleaning or replacing.

    If true, wow.

  7. - Amy - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:18 am:

    Patrick Fitzgerald to become the first U.S.Attorney to prosecute two Illinois governors, the Ernie Banks of the law enforcement community….let’s tag two!

  8. - Excessively rabid - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:20 am:

    Boo-yah Grandma!

  9. - Siyotanka - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:20 am:

    Does this mean we won’t get our bailout $$$ now??

  10. - 32nd Ward Chicago - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:20 am:

    From Article V, Section 6 of the Illinois Constitution:

    “(b) If the Governor is unable to serve because of death, conviction on impeachment, failure to qualify, resignation or other disability, the office of Governor shall be filled by the officer next in line of succession for the remainder of the term or until the disability is removed.
    “(c) Whenever the Governor determines that he may be seriously impeded in the exercise of his powers, he shall so notify the Secretary of State and the officer next in line of succession. The latter shall thereafter become Acting Governor with the duties and powers of Governor. When the Governor is prepared to resume office, he shall do so by notifying the Secretary of State and the Acting Governor.
    “(d) The General Assembly by law shall specify by whom and by what procedures the ability of the Governor to serve or to resume office may be questioned and determined. The
    Supreme Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to review such a law and any such determination and, in the absence of such a law, shall make the determination under such rules as it may adopt.”
    Governor will never do (c), so impeachment would bring Quinn in or whatever (d) is. If he is still in custody can he appoint Obama’s successor?

  11. - anon - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:21 am:

    [pop] Oh look, a kitty WITH A BADGE. Excuse me while I do the Snoopy Dance!!!

  12. - How Ironic - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:21 am:

    Serious question.

    If the Gov is arrested, and held in prison, does Pat Quinn become the “acting Gov”? If so, could he sneak in the senate appointment? Say….this morning?

  13. - a naughty moose - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:22 am:


  14. - Excessively rabid - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:23 am:

    OK, if he’s charged, Quinn should relieve him of duty, then call an immediate special session to hear impeachment charges. He does not need to be convicted of a crime to be removed from office. It seems to me any kind of criminal charge related to official duties is sufficient for immediate removal.

  15. - nino - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:23 am:

    just saw it on MSNBC. Loving it.

  16. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:24 am:

    Looks like other Dems don’t want him selecting Obama’s replacement…that’s what the trib is reporting now.

  17. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:25 am:

    Please let it be true!

  18. - Fire Ron Guenther - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:25 am:

    Winston & Strawn’s pro bono department, get busy!

  19. - Bill - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:26 am:


  20. - nino - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:26 am:

    Where are you bill?

  21. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:30 am:

    How soon can an impeachment proceeding be commenced?

  22. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:30 am:

    It’s dark and cold up here, with a driving, freezing rain. What a setting for that early morning knock from the federales you always knew was coming.

    Funny thing is, Rod probably had his best day in months yesterday with the Republic Window presser. What a swing.

    Who wants that Senate seat now?

  23. - LilySelden - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:31 am:

    It’s been verified all over local news now…and it’s ABOUT TIME! Christmas has definitely come early.

  24. - Levois - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:31 am:

    Wait 1 second! Since when would they arrest a sitting governor or indeed a sitting public official without an indictment?

    Well they did arrest Arenda Troutman.

  25. - Justice - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:32 am:

    I am declaring this a State Holiday……..for me and mine anyway!!! Hooray!!!!!! Merry Fitzmas is spot on!!!

  26. - How Ironic - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:34 am:

    Blogs a little slow right now….anything going on?

  27. - Justice - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:34 am:

    …..and might I add…..THUMP!!!

  28. - Pak man - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:34 am:

    We can only hope this true, Pat Quinn get your shoes on man it is time to get to work

  29. - curious george - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:35 am:

    Is is now officially Fitzmas?
    By the way, nice birthday present for Rod.

  30. - Amy - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:35 am:

    not the kind of curtains you want for a rod.

    radio just said chief of staff taken into custody too……

  31. - Bill - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:35 am:

    They got Harris too !!!

  32. - Seeker of Truth - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:39 am:

    Yes Virginia, there is a Santa.

  33. - trafficmatt - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:40 am:

    Everyone sing a long:

    Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
    Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
    Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
    Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She’s gone where the goblins go,
    Below - below - below. Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
    Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
    Let them know
    The Wicked Witch is dead!

  34. - Happy happy joy joy - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:41 am:

    Hmm, guess he was official A after all. Who knew? Oh wait, everyone

  35. - Levois - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:42 am:

    I think I should feel bad about the fact that he’s a fellow sagittarius. :(

  36. - Elvis Has Left the Mansion - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:42 am:

    Spider murphy played the tenor saxophone,
    Little joe [Cari] was blowin on the slide trombone.
    The drummer boy from illinois went crash, boom, bang,
    The whole rhythm section was the purple gang.
    Lets rock, everybody, lets rock.
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    Was dancin to the jailhouse rock.

  37. - Our Time Has Passed - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:42 am:

    And this on my Birthday.

  38. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:44 am:

    It just got a lot weirder. You’re not going to believe the stuff the feds are putting out. They have recordings as late as Nov. 7 of him selling the Senate seat.

  39. - IDOT Guy - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:45 am:

    There will be celebrations in every state office this day (unless you are a blago-flunky), hopefully we can repair the damage that he has done to the state.

  40. - cardinals fan - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:45 am:

    Never in all life as a Republican did I ever think I would be proud to say the words “Governor Pat Quinn!”

  41. - Amy - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:45 am:

    john harris has lots to give up about City Hall.

  42. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:46 am:

    I have a feeling this will be the Mother of all CapFax Threads.

  43. - Levois - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:50 am:

    I understand that his chief of staff has been arrested too!

  44. - Sap - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:52 am:

    Careful what you wish for. A Governor Quinn might be amusing for a while, but does anybody think he would govern based on sound policy instead of press pop? Not defending Rod, and I know sound policy and Illinois sounds sappy, but with all the problems Illinois faces, I am starving for some kind of leadership and I have 2 more years of waiting whatever the outcome.

  45. - LilySelden - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:53 am:

    “if they’re not going to offer anything of value, I’m just going to take it”—-From the tape of Blago on the Senate seat auction (er…vacancy, I mean.) He’s been under investigation for how long? Can you arrest/impeach/convict a governor for being utterly delusional?

  46. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:53 am:

    So who is Senate Candidate 5?

  47. - Muskrat - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:54 am:

    Holy Cow. Selling Obama’s senate seat. And what kind of sheer idiot, knowing that Fitzgerald has been gunning for him, not only proceeds to try to cash in on the senate opening, but talks about it over phone lines? I mean, even low-level hoods know not to talk about business over the phone. Wow.

  48. - fedup dem - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:55 am:

    I suspect right now the feds are ssying something like this to Governor Sleazy:

    “Governor, you can resign now and plead guilty to reduced charges, saving you x years in prison time. Or you can be an SOB, make us take you to trial and end up rotting in prison until your daughters are grown up. You have until 10:30 this morning to decide, since we need time to type up the press release announcing your decision for an 11 am news conference.”

  49. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:55 am:

    I take no responsibility…I voted for Judy and for Jim Ryan.

    Seriously, if this is true, we Illinoisians need to do some serious thinking about how we arrive at our political choices. Three times in a row now, we have elected governors who got into serious trouble with the feds for, basically, allegedly selling our stuff-we own those contracts and jobs and politically connected buildings and we elect people who consider them their own to sell.

    Will Big Jim be riding to the rescue with his team of extra bright young lawyers happy to sell their souls? Will it be free? Will Blago voluntarily step down or try to tough it out? Can he be forced out of office without an impeachment process? Will Pat Quinn want a term or two of his own? What an interesting day.

  50. - sneaker - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:56 am:

    Yesterday took part in a sit in, today sitting in jail. I can’t help but wonder what’s going through his head today…

  51. - Lovin-It - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:58 am:

    Thank the Lord!! Seriously…everybody get on your knees and Thank the Lord!!

  52. - BIG R.PH. - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:58 am:

    Party on Wayne!
    Party on Garth!

  53. - The Inkman - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 8:59 am:

    My new Super Hero - Patrick Fitzgerald

  54. - Oh my Bama - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:00 am:

    Can an arrested sitting governor still make the senate appointment?

    Gotta feel bad for his little girls!

  55. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:01 am:

    Talking about being indicted, impeached, AND running for President in 2016.

    Talk about a reality disconnect.

  56. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:01 am:

    Merry Fitzmas!!! There may be a chance for this state yet! State workers are celebrating all over Springfield!!

  57. - Rich O - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:01 am:

    It’s like he devoted his career to this moment.

  58. - One of the 35 - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:01 am:

    January 13, 2003. Remember Governor?

  59. - Lazy intern - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:03 am:

    I am crying. Can this be? Christmas has come early. I hope everyone takes in this sublime glow of the possible death of pay-to-play. This state has finally turned a corner and can make good on its promise to be government by the people, for the people and at the vanguard of the twenty first century.

  60. - Patrick Casey - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:03 am:

    Since they pinched him so early, I’m sure his hair looks terrible-what could be worse an indictment or bad hair…What an arrogant SOB…

  61. - lucidbrazzi - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:04 am:

    The November 11 conversation (”…all they will give me is appreciation, expletive them”) just guaranteed no chance of pardon from Obama.

  62. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:05 am:

    This is unbelievable. On the phone at this late date! He’s either insane or the stupidest man ever to hold public office. No joking.

    Danny Davis is on Fox assuring everyone that he’s not Senate Candidate 5 (like anyone thought he could raise $1.5 million).

    Blago will be impeached, convicted and removed before the New Year.

    Geez, are Obama and Emanuel in town at the Dirksen? They might want to hightail it to Washington before Rod does the perp walk there.

    Tony, Chris, your train just left.

  63. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:05 am:

    Who’s Deputy Governor A?

  64. - OneMan - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:05 am:

    A) This is sort of sad…

    However that being said I jumped out of my seat at Denny’s when I saw it on the Trib site this morning.

    Suffice to say I think I can say senate candidate 1-N is not Bill.

    At this point it should be obvious that Bill is in fact the answer.

  65. - Jim in Accounting - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:06 am:

    Somewhere Jim and Judy are wondering how they lost to this guy.

    State employees are (no joke) cheering in the halls at this news. Merry Christmas, Illinois.

  66. - Obamalac - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:07 am:

    CLEAN OUT THE COOP! This banty rooster should be the first and the other sleazy chickens should join him!! Put them in the Joliet state pen!

  67. - Obamalac - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:08 am:

    CLEAN OUT THE COOP! This banty rooster should be the first and the other sleazy chickens should join him!! Put them all in the Joliet state pen!

  68. - Hanging Chad - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:08 am:

    You know, I have joked here a few weeks ago that Blago was angling for an ambassadorship. Looks like truth is stranger than fiction. I’m surprised that the Senate seat didn’t wind up on Ebay.

  69. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:11 am:

    Did one of the possible senate candidates cooperate with the Federal-eeees since they were being squeezed?

    He is innocent until proven guilty.

  70. - Rich O - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:12 am:

    Seriously, it’s like he was trying to get indicted.

  71. - 312 - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:14 am:

    O. M. G.

    Trading $$$ for potential jobs - Been There.

    Trading $$ for appointments - Done That.

    But trying to influence the Trib Editorial Board is PRICELESS!!!

    And even better, he “knows” he’s being taped!!!

  72. - So ILL - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:15 am:

    Hey I get it that everyone is elated, but today is a very sad day for his two young daughters. The man is likely going to prison and their mom might not be far behind if she has been talking about her possible board appointment over the phone.

  73. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:17 am:

    This is pretty staggering to read even for some one jaded about Illinois politics.

    I don’t think we can ever critize people for tin foil caps after reading this kind of stuff.

  74. - One of the 35 - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:17 am:

    I think it would be the height of irony if the feds could cut a special deal to have him incarcerated in the state facility at Pontiac. (yeah, I know the charges are federal but this would be better!)

  75. - Levois - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:17 am:

    Hmmm I think this news is causing some loading problems for this blog. :P


  76. - South Side Mike - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:20 am:

    I just have so many quick hit thoughts.

    Looks like he should have taken that plane one-way to the Cayman Islands after all.

    It is both a day of rejoicing and sadness. Sadness that IL has yet another dark stain on its history of corruption, but joy indeed over the hope for the future.

    It will be impossible for Blago to fill that seat now. Poisin!?! More like a nuclear bomb attached to SC 1 and SC 5.

    And I can’t believe Rod was so delusional that he was thinking about a Presidential bid in 2016. I’m not kidding, he may have a shot at a legitimate insanity defense.

    And the Trib angle! Wow. I mean, I guess he wanted to go out with a bang!

    I feel for his daughters, I really do. But I bet that Patti is nervously trying to remember what phone calls she may have made from home in the past two months, if some of profitable pursuit allegations are true. Would the feds ever indict both parents?

  77. - Jake from Elwood - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:21 am:

    Most of us on this blog had more than an inkling that something was afoul in the administration. Not many of us could conceive that after all of these other scandals and convictions, that Rod would be so brazen as to try to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder. What an abomination. This is a permanent stain to our fair state. Once again, our politicians have brought shame and disrepute to our local political framework. {SIGH}

  78. - GOP gal - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:21 am:

    It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year!!! Forget Christmas presents, I have gotten all I really wanted! :D

  79. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:27 am:

    Still wondering who Senate Candidate 5 is. I wonder if we’ll find out through other arrests?

  80. - puzzler - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:27 am:

    Illinois, the Equal Opportunity Corruption State.”We don’t care which side of the aisle you occupy.” How embarrassing. What happens to his campaign warchest if he’s convicted?

  81. - Illini2784 - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:28 am:

    Looking through the Tribune photo slideshow of Blago’s career, this one seems oddly appropriate for today:

  82. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:29 am:

    Would the feds ever indict both parents?

    They did in Enron, and used the threat of long jail for the wife to get the hubby to confess.

    That couple had young children also.

  83. - Levois - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:30 am:

    “Yesterday took part in a sit in, today sitting in jail. I can’t help but wonder what’s going through his head today…”

    I’m innocent?

  84. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:30 am:

    Was Rod’s hair done? I am waiting for pics. I wish it would have been Fitz-o-ween.

  85. - Jim in Accounting - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:31 am:

    “I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly and notoriously, and those who feel like they want to sneakily and wear taping devices, I would remind them that it kind of smells like Nixon and Watergate.”

    Could not agree more, Governor.

  86. - Zora - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:41 am:

    His 11th hour wheeling, dealing and bullying is astonishing, but what’s also striking is how consistent this is with the original charge, first named by Mell, that he was selling board seats for campaign contributions.

    We “knew” this man (which is not the same as proving guilt in a court of law) and we reelected him anyway.

    We’ve need to stop putting people with the stink of corruption into office again and again.

  87. - Oneman - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:42 am:

    Ok can the leg bring them selves into session to impeach? Seems to me you have to in order to name a us senator at this point

  88. - Don't Worry, Be Happy - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:42 am:

    It looks to me like SC1 is Schakowsky and SC5 is Jesse Jr.

  89. - Greg - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:44 am:

    To find the best quotes in the complaint, I suggest searching for keyword “f—ing” in the adobe search field.

  90. - Waco Kid - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    With the Feds all over him, Blago still is dumb enough to try and sell the Senate seat. Wow.

    Merry Fitzmas everyone.

  91. - Vote Quimby! - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    Impeach him. Impeach him now. Impeach him this afternoon.

  92. - Confused 2B - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    This is what happens when politicians get too BIG-they think that NO ONE or NOTHING can touch them! Well here is the proof all of you up and coming politicians-do the RIGHT thing! Don’t forget why you got elected and by whom! It’s not about YOU! What about the family? You all have families and this reflects on them-so think of someone-anyone but yourself! It’s not about YOU! Our state now has 2 Governors back to back that have been arrested-what a shame! This reflects on ALL politicians-and we shouldn’t do that-there are some that work hard for who elected them and their families! We need to move forward! He played around to try to get the “MOST” out of appointing someone for Obama and look where it got him-he’s arrogant and deserves what he gets-but his kids don’t! That’s the shame and what will happen when you only think about YOURSELF-so PLEASE remember that-ANYONE that is in politics-REMEMBER your FAMILY and what you do also impacts them!

    Hopefully he’ll resign so the state can move forward-but of course he wont! He will appoint someone-who wants it now?

    Will this EVER end?

  93. - Zora - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:53 am:

    I knew Patti was in trouble when she went over the the Chicago Christian Industrial League. She must have thought that “working for the homeless” would be good character cover when this day came.

  94. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:54 am:

    While it appears the governor is feeling the consequences of his actions (he is innocent until proven guilty), and Illinois will likely be a better place with someone else “in” the governor’s mansion, it truly is a sad day for this state and its people.

    We should never have to hope for an indictment or arrest to have quality leadership from our highest state officials.

  95. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:55 am:

    After all the comments posted on this blog, the Gov. still is able to amaze! It looks like everything was for sale. No wonder the parks are closed, nobody ponied up!

    While I am glad this is the beginning of the end, I think it is far worse than most of us imagined. I am incredibly sad for our state. I hope that the (mostly) new leadership can take us out of this morass.

    No wonder nothing was ever done! It looks like if no one was willing to pay, bills would not be signed and appointments would not be made. A sad day.

  96. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:55 am:

    reading page 38 of the complaint: Is Individual C a GOPer?

  97. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:55 am:

    I’m with you OneMan. Impeach the guy. Get it over with so we can all move on and Gov. Pat Quinn can name a Senator.

    Question 1: Can Blago, who despite being in custody under what US Atty Fitzgerald calls a “staggering” set of allegations, still appoint a Senator from jail? I know the Senate can always kick out whoever that person might be, but does the state lege have any say over a pick?

    Question 2: Will this hurt 3J since he was the most visible kid jumping up and down yelling “Pick me! Oooh! Pick me! Me! Me! ME!!!”?

    Question 3: What the heck were the Feds waiting for?

    Question 4: Has Bill dropped out of the running?

    Question 5: When is the next Re-elect Rod fundraiser?

  98. - bored now - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:57 am:

    pat quinn is uniquely qualified to bring this state — and it’s polarized politics — together and start the healing. clearly separate from speaker madigan and mayor daley, he has been active in pursuing the interests of the state since elected. we couldn’t be in better hands. when does the healing begin???

  99. - Muskrat - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:58 am:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Obama team helped Fitz get the wiretap warrant, especially once they learned he was shopping the seat for cash. This is embarassing, but it would have been exponentially worse if the Gov had closed the sale with candidate 5. (or 2, 3, or 4)

  100. - Shelbyville - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:58 am:

    I am guessing that the campaign fund has not been frozen, yet?

    Wow! How quickly can a special session be called to relieve him of his duties?

  101. - IrishPirate - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:59 am:

    I have a hard time believing Blago was this stupid.


    To quote Monty Python “My nipples are exploding with delight”.

  102. - The Right to Counsel - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:59 am:

    Who is Individual C? Hastert?

  103. - BandCamp - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 9:59 am:

    He called Obama a MF. A MF!!

    I am lost for words about all this. I don’t think anyone expected it to be this juicy.

    And like someone said…he KNEW he was being investigated. And he’s on the phones.

  104. - Sarbanharble - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:00 am:

    megalomaniac |ˌmegəlōˈmānēˌak|
    a person who is obsessed with their own power.
    • a person who suffers delusions of their own power or importance
    • also interchangeable with the alternate spelling “blagojemaniac”

  105. - ANON - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:00 am:

    So who’s minding the store?

  106. - Wondering - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:00 am:

    I couldn’t be happier.

    But I have a seious question after reading the indictment: Who can we trust?

  107. - Joshua - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:00 am:

    Of IL’s last nine governors, three spent time in federal prison (Kerner, Walker, Ryan), one was acquitted of tax evasion charges (Stratton), and one is Rod Blagojevich.

  108. - Sass - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:01 am:

    Even after everything we all knew, his arrogance is staggering.

  109. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:02 am:

    page 46 of complaint: Allegedly, Mrs. Blago tells Blago to tell Deputy Governor A “to hold up that (bleeping) Cubs (feces)…(bleep) them.

    As a White Sox fan, YOU GO GIRL!

  110. - Vote Quimby! - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:02 am:

    The arrogance of this man is astounding.

  111. - Macbeth - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:03 am:

    State workers rejoice.

    I hope Blago’s agency directors start falling like dominoes.

  112. - Lefty - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:03 am:

    Doing everything alleged regarding the appointment to the senate seat when he is already under investigation for other actions? Can an insanity defense be far behind?

  113. - Fitzgerald for King! - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:03 am:

    Thank you for the early christmas present Santa Fitzgerald! This is a great day for the people of Illinois, and especially those of us who have been waiting for 6 years for this to happen. The only surprising thing is that it took this long for them to take him down, the shady deals started as soon as he took office and have been the one thing besides baseless rhetoric that you could count on from this administration. I haven’t been this happy in quite some time.

  114. - ANON - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:03 am:

    Rob N “Question 5: When is the next Re-elect Rod fundraiser?”

    It was scheduled for Thursday, December 11 in Chicago. Something tells me it may be postponed.

  115. - Josh - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:05 am:

    Look for Governor Pat Quinn to call a Special Election for the Senate Seat.

    Pat is a smart guy and will not want to get his pick scrutinized by the FEDS.

  116. - Rod sez I'm pork - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:06 am:

    “a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;”

    As a non-profit executive director who had his budget cut by G-Rod, I find this charge particularly galling.

    There is no word in English for the governor’s hubris. Even Chutzpah does not seem to describe him. Good riddance.

  117. - prairiestatedem - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:06 am:

    This is indeed a great day for the people of Illinois…The cancer can start to be treated and we can move forward as a people again without this crook.

    I think the complaint is the portrait of a desperate thief with splashes of an unbridled arrogance.

    Lets home Impeachment and Removal come fast, lets get this nightmare done with

  118. - Deleted Daily - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:09 am:

    Happy Holidays to everyone with egg on their faces and butt-hats on their heads.

  119. - Gabriel S - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:12 am:

    Senate Candidate 1 is clearly Valerie Jarret.

    Not sure who Senate Candidate 5 is, but my guess is Jesse Jackson Jr. Whomever it is, it is a male.

  120. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Dec 9, 08 @ 10:12 am:



    O Come All Ye Faithful
    Joyful and triumphant,
    O come ye, O come ye to Illinois.
    Come and behold him,
    Exposed as King of Cronies;
    O come, let us impeach him,
    O come, let us impeach him,
    O come, let us impeach him,
    Hang him high!

    O Sing, choirs of voters,
    Sing in exultation,
    Sing that Heaven heard our heart-felt pleas.
    Sold out our state, now to jail he’s heading;
    O come, let us impeach him,
    O come, let us impeach him,
    O come, let us impeach him,
    Hang him high!

    All Hail! Fitz, We love thee!
    On this happy morning,
    O Patrick!, forevermore be thy name adored.
    Illinois Democrats find themselves trembling;
    O come, let us impeach him,
    O come, let us impeach him,
    O come, let us impeach him,
    Hang him high!

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