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This just in… AP uncovers Tribune consultant e-mails to Blagojevich chief

Monday, Mar 9, 2009

* 5:16 pm - The Associated Press broke a story this afternoon that might cause some trembling over at Tribune Tower. A consultant hired by the Tribune Co. to work on the Cubs deal exchanged several interesting e-mails with former Rod Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris…

A sports consultant helping Tribune Co. with a potential Wrigley Field sale wrote an e-mail to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s top aide that said the results of the presidential election had put “the opportunities we discussed” in front of Blagojevich, The Associated Press has learned. […]

“Now that the election has gone as we expected, the opportunities we discussed, and Rod and I talked even more about, are in front of you guys,” Ganis wrote in one of two dozen e-mail exchanges between Ganis and Harris obtained by the AP through the Freedom of Information Act.

* And then there’s this…

Ganis told the AP in January that his contact with Blagojevich’s office was limited to discussions about the Cubs.

That’s not what Ganis said this week. Instead, he told the AP that the above-mentioned e-mail was about some hare-brained scheme to get Barack Obama and his staff to mediate the Statehouse civil war and move Blagojevich’s agenda forward. Yeah, that would’ve happened.

* The AP buries this tidbit way down at the very bottom of the story…

Several e-mails mention the Illinois Finance Authority, which prosecutors claim Blagojevich and Harris wanted to use to provide financial assistance of $100 million or more to Tribune to get a tax break on its Wrigley sale.

This would be the real meat, but it’s barely mentioned.

* The AP has only posted two of the “several” e-mails which directly discuss the IFA (shameless plea to AP: Post them all), so we don’t know what all of those communications were about. But here’s what they’ve put online so far

Sept. 11, from Ganis… “Internally we want to do IFA. Sale or no sale of team in whole or in part depends on numbers we receive in a few weeks. You know where I expect it to go and that hasn’t changed.” […]

Sept. 4, from Ganis: “Hi John. Let’s connect with each other today if you have the time to make sure all are moving on IFA initiative properly. Also discuss counsels if that makes sense.

OK, so that tells us the Tribune Co. was fairly deep into a committment to do the IFA deal on Wrigley Field. That’s further than maybe we had previously thought. But Ganis was also doing some other stuff with the Blagojevich administration…

Sept. 11, from Ganis: “Just in case you guys get the capital bill done and if there is Olympics money, wanted to remind you if the opportunity is there to get a permanent Board seat on the 2016 committee under your control please do it. It’s one appointment where I can help a lot and also watch out for things and be Rod’s (hopefully credible) voice. […]

Sept. 5, from Ganis: “Just saw in the paper that Spielberg’s movie on Lincoln is going to start shooting. Remember, my cousin Sid Ganis is very close with Spielberg. If you or Rod need/want anything and want a direct pipeline to Spielberg just let me know.” [..]

Sept. 4, from Ganis… “Would also like to discuss the wind power opportunity as well. I have a structure to suggest that could be implemented well, quickly and in a meaningful populist manner. All for the betterment of the state. (Sorry for the sales pitch language, I am just excited by the opportunities to do something good and create a new business).”

A real shaker, that guy. Looks like he was working every possible angle. And, to emphasize the point…

Ganis told the AP in January that his contact with Blagojevich’s office was limited to discussions about the Cubs.

Not quite, unless those deals and perks are somehow all connected to the Wrigley thing. Next move: Tribune.

* Here’s some background from the criminal complaint. This intercepted conversation was held a few weeks after that Nov. 6th “opportunities we discussed” e-mail was sent…

On Nov. 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 Tribune Co. has been subpoenaed by the feds, but the company has (ironically) refused to disclose a copy of that document. Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell has admitted to being contacted by the FBI, but won’t specify what the G wanted. A top Tribune editor has denied ever feeling any heat to change the paper’s editorial stance on the governor. But Rod Blagojevich pretty much admitted on Rachel Maddow’s program that he at least made the suggestion…

That [Tribune IFA deal] was something, the sort of thing that they would say is an impeachable thing ‘cause I’m using the executive office, they think, without the legislative approval. The Tribune editorial board was advocating that I be impeached for those sorts of things.

And so again, without going into detail, they’re getting the benefit of these things to try to help the Cubs. We just would prefer that they don’t, look, that—that the things that they’re advocating that I be impeached it’d be nice if they they laid off on an issue like that.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - MIDSTATE - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 4:25 pm:

    Yes, people, we’re gonna have to go back to our wonkier roots now that Blagojevich is gone. Get used to it. :)

    Wish he was gone, gone to jail.

  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 4:27 pm:

    Yeah, I guess I spoke too soon, eh? lol

  3. - Baines 4 Prez - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 4:28 pm:

    Boy, sounds like the kind of thing that’ll be great for subscriptions. The credibility of the Trib. looks like it’s in serious trouble. the New York Times flipped out all over itself on the Jason Blair thing a few years ago, what does this say for them?

  4. - 2ConfusedCrew - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 4:31 pm:

    Is this where we post that long bit of nonsense from the sad sacks at the TRIB on FOIA…I think it ran on for abnout 1K words over the weekend…..Maybe they could do a segment on Chicken Little TV, WGN-AM etc. etc.
    The AP could share a little more too.
    Once again, Capt Fax tells the whole story

  5. - Leave a light on George - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 4:31 pm:

    The SOB’s have corrupted my beloved Cubs.

    April 7th can’t come soon enough.

  6. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 4:34 pm:

    Thanks for reminding me, 2ConfusedCrew. That statement is now hyperlinked on the word “ironically.” lol

  7. - 2ConfusedCrew - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 4:39 pm:

    Atta boy!

  8. - The Fox - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 4:51 pm:

    McCormick and Dold were toast and didn’t know it cuz the tit for tat deal was on a “to come” with future cutbacks and “reorganization” and if you dont think so we can arrange a minimal downpayment on the Michigan Avenue bridge. Goooo Cubs.

  9. - BannedForLife - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 5:06 pm:

    the mere fact of the state of IL fulfilling a FOIA request is a sign o’ the post-Blagojevich times

  10. - Anon3 - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 7:24 pm:

    The State never stopped answering the FOIA requests. Just ignored the good ones!

  11. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 8:53 pm:

    Sam…pull the plug on this one. Look what you bought into!

  12. - Speaking At Will - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 8:55 pm:

    Interesting that the AP only released details of two e-mails when they have “several” at their disposal.

    Would the Fed’s leak “several” e-mails to the AP then tell them which sections to use in order to pressure others to come forward with information on the Tribune deal? I probably need to put my tinfoil hat on the shelf.

    == Remember, my cousin Sid Ganis is very close with Spielberg. If you or Rod need/want anything and want a direct pipeline to Spielberg just let me know.” ==

    Are you serious? Thats some Major League name dropping. Maybe Rod could have used that “direct pipeline” to Spielberg to land the lead role as Honest Abe in the upcoming movie. This episode is beyond bizarro and we havent even seen the indictment yet.

    “By the Rivers Gently Flowing…..”

  13. - Cheswick - Monday, Mar 9, 09 @ 10:24 pm:

    == If you or Rod need/want anything and want a direct pipeline to Spielberg just let me know.” [..] ==

    I realize that the line from Blagojevich to Spielberg is pretty thin (with Harris to Ganis to Ganis’s cousin all in the middle), but wouldn’t it be funny if Steven Spielberg, one of the most important people in Hollywood, got a call from Patrick Fitzgerald about his knowledge of any of this Blagojevich-Cubs- Tribune stuff?

    But, perhaps if Spielberg was being hounded by someone on behalf of Blagojevich, it could explain why less than a month after Blagojevich gets ousted, Spielberg’s off-again on-again Lincoln movie is back in active development.

  14. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 10, 09 @ 3:14 am:

    ===Would the Fed’s leak “several” e-mails to the AP===

    This was a state FOIA request.

  15. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 10, 09 @ 6:23 am:

    Rich, it’s good to know that someone besides old AA is up in the wee, small hours.

  16. - Jellocrat - Tuesday, Mar 10, 09 @ 7:42 am:

    Finally the sleeping giant is awakened. I was thinking that politicians corrupt in Illinois, not such a big surprise. Corruption of the news paper of record…now that’s different.

  17. - Blogger2 - Tuesday, Mar 10, 09 @ 7:50 am:

    Ganis was only talking about one project. Wrigley Field was being converted into a wind farm (studies have shown there is plenty there)in an effort to generate electricity for the Olympics. He had it all packaged in one deal. Smart guy!

  18. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 10, 09 @ 8:42 am:

    “My cousin… is very close to Spielberg.” What a bigshot.

    Blago and Spielberg. So many possibilities:

    Illinois Blago and the Kingdom of the Empty Skull.

    RB: The Extra-Testicular

    Catch Me if You Can

    The Lost World: Illinois Parks

    Artificial Intelligence

    Rezko’s List

    Savaging Jim Ryan

    The Color Bleepin’ Golden

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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