From the Wall Street Journal:
CHICAGO — At a press conference here Tuesday announcing federal corruption charges against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, FBI Special Agent Robert Grant said that “if [Illinois] isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it is one hell of a competitor.”
The arrest of Gov. Blagojevich is one more chapter in a long, bipartisan history of corruption that has seen roughly 20% — one in five — of the state’s chief executives indicted or convicted of felonies in the past century.
Original DVD cover
Note to Blago: When you know that you are under investigation, don’t be flappin’ your lips over the phone about selling Senate seats, ya moron!
Mr. Blagojevich was taken into custody by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his home on Chicago’s North Side early Tuesday morning. The Democrat is charged with, among other things, conspiring to sell the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Should Mr. Blagojevich end up in prison, he will join predecessors including the following:
* Republican George Ryan, who is currently serving a 6 1/2-year stretch in federal prison for racketeering and fraud.
* Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was convicted in 1973 on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and other charges before being sentenced to three years in the pen.
* Dan Walker [the last Democratic governor of the state before Mr. Blagojevich] was convicted in 1987 — years after leaving office — of bank fraud.
* Lennington Small, a Republican, served from 1921 to 1929. He was indicted while in office for embezzlement related to actions taken when he was state treasurer. He was later acquitted; several of the jurors in the case ended up with state jobs.
Also, in one infamous case further down the chain, a former speaker of the state’s House of Representatives and secretary of state, Paul Powell, was found after his death in 1970 to have had several million dollars in embezzled cash stashed in shoe boxes.
Mr. Powell, according to a Time magazine article at the time, had his own definition of success, believing that “there’s only one thing worse than a defeated politician, and that’s a broke one.”
(CNN) — Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, face corruption charges in a scandal that encompassed the Chicago Cubs, President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat and a children’s hospital, according to an affidavit.
The men were each charged with a count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and a count of solicitation of bribery, authorities said.
According to the affidavit outlining some of the charges against the Blagojevich and Harris, here are some of the details that led authorities to charge the officials:
Blagojevich said in phone conversation that he is conspiring to trade the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama in exchange for positions that Obama has the power to appoint, namely the secretary of health and human services post.
“Blagojevich has also been intercepted conspiring to sell the Senate seat in exchange for his wife’s placement on paid corporate boards or Rod Blagojevich’s placement at a private foundation in a significant position with a substantial salary,” the affidavit says.
Blagojevich and Harris threatened to withhold financial assistance from the [Chicago] Tribune Co. unless the company fired certain editorial board members who had been critical of Blagojevich and had called for the governor’s impeachment.
The money was related to the sale or financing of Wrigley Field, home stadium of the Chicago Cubs, a team owned by the Tribune Co.
On October 8, Blagojevich told a person described only as “Individual A” that he was willing to make $8 million available for Children’s Memorial Hospital, but “I want to get [Hospital Executive 1] for 50.”
Individual A felt that Blagojevich was talking about a $50,000 campaign contribution from the hospital’s chief executive officer and that the $8 million referred to a recent commitment by Blagojevich to secure state funds via “some type of pediatric care reimbursement.”