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Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges

Posted by tothewire on December 9, 2008


Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested Tuesday morning in Chicago on two counts each of federal corruption charges stemming from allegations Blagojevich was trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder.

The criminal complaint by the FBI said each man was arrested on two charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

Blagojevich and Harris will have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court Tuesday. 

The arrest is the latest step in a three-year probe of “pay-to-play politics” in the governor’s administration. 

A statement by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant said Blagojevich and Harris “allegedly conspired to sell U.S. Senate appointment, engaged in pay-to-play schemes and threatened to withhold state assistance to Tribune Company for Wrigley Field to induce purge of newspaper editorial writers.”

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. 

“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,” he added.

Federal authorities were permitted by a judge to record the governor secretly before the November election after raising concerns that a replacement for Obama would be tainted. 

Fitzgerald’s office said the 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was taped conspiring to sell or trade Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife, including an annual salary of $250,000-$300,000 at a nonprofit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.

They also allege Blagojevich is heard on tape demanding a corporate board seat for his wife worth as much as $150,000 a year; promises of campaign funds, including cash up front; and a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

The Chicago Tribune was first to report that the arrest. Informed Monday of the wiretap, Blagojevich told the Tribune that his discussions were “always lawful” and he defended a close confidant, John Wyma, who turned on him. Wyma as “an honest person who’s conducted himself in an honest way,” Blagojevich said.

“I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it,” he said. 



3 Responses to “Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges”

  1. justice4mothers said

    Wow, they’ll have to set up a Governor’s wing in the prison system there! LOL


  2. tothewire said

    Hey there Justice! That is exactly what Lawman said to me! LOL


  3. arkangel3 said

    Oh boy. Like Peter Gabriel sang, “Here Comes The Flood”. I only hope that the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach is just last night’s dinner and not something else I’m thinking.


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