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Obama transition team report on contacts with Blagojevich

Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Fitz gives go-ahead to investigate illegal hiring, firing

Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008

* Most of the stories today about how US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s letter to the House impeachment committee focuses on what he asked the committee not do

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said he won’t help a panel of Illinois lawmakers considering impeachment of Governor Rod Blagojevich, to avoid compromising a criminal inquiry into political corruption. […]

Fitzgerald’s office won’t provide affidavits, wiretap applications, fundraising lists or the names of anonymous witnesses, according to a letter released today by the committee. The prosecutor also asked the panel to avoid current and former members of Blagojevich’s staff, as well as fundraisers such as Antoin Rezko, who was convicted in June for seeking millions of dollars in kickbacks.

“Any inquiry into these topics, as well as the taking of testimony from present and former members of the governor’s staff, could significantly compromise the ongoing criminal investigation,” Fitzgerald said in the letter dated yesterday.

* But USA Fitzgerald did give the committee the go-ahead to investigate what the committee has termed “Fraud in the governor’s hring and firing of state workers.”

The committee informed Fitzgerald that it wanted to look at whether the governor had ‘engaged in a patter of illegally hiring and firing state workers based on improper and illegal criteria,” and provided the US Attorney with a list of several names…

* Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey, who were fired and made a campaign scapegoat by Blagojevich for allegedly following orders to inject politics into CMS personnel decisions.

* Matt Magalis, a whistleblower fired for leaking a leaking a secret report to the media

* Maria Besbekos, John Hegeler and Jim Fragakis - Tollway workers who claim they were fired to make way for political hires.

Fitzgerald said his office has “no objections” to pursuing that route.

* Fitzgerald also wrote that he is still reviewing the request for copies of intercepted communications from Gov. Blagojevich’s campaign office and home telephone. A decision is likely tomorrow.

* Meanwhile

After visiting with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and meeting with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, is urging Illinois Department of Corrections staff and staff members of Gov. Rod Blagojevich to come forward, as he did, with information, which may be questionable or could fit into a larger scheme, relating to the closure of Pontiac Correctional Center.

Rutherford held a press conference this morning to further explain his actions.

“Information came to me that caused me pause. I shared it with investigators,” said Rutherford. “Since the closure of Pontiac was announced it was obvious the decision was not made as a planned effort to improve the correctional system. Information to the contrary came to me from a variety of sources and I have shared all of it with agents working on this ongoing federal investigation.”

Rutherford did not release any details about the information he received that in turn caused him to contact Fitzgerald.

“It is very important to explain that the information I was made aware of does not implicate anyone at a local level, at this prison or any other in the state,” said Rutherford in response to a question about if correctional officers had been requested to pay for transfers to other facilities from PCC.

“It is very important to explain that the information I was made aware of does not implicate anyone at a local level, at this prison or any other in the state,” said Rutherford in response to a question about if correctional officers had been requested to pay for transfers to other facilities from PCC.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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