High Bid Politics: Illinois Guv under Arrest
Fox News dateline 12.09.08- 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 arrest is part of a three-year probe of "pay-to-play politics" in the governor's administration. The criminal complaint by the FBI says each man was arrested on two charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.
The charges also relate to allegations that Blagojevich and Harris schemed with previously convicted defendants and Obama associates Antonin Rezko, Stuart Levine, Ali Ata and others to arrange financial benefits in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment, state contracts and access to state funds. In addition, the case alleges that Blagojevich tried to influence the composition of The Chicago Tribune editorial board in exchange for state aid to the Tribune Company, which owns the newspaper. www.foxnews.com For breaking news from Chicago, go to www.breakingnews.com for the most recent news from the Windy City. To see the criminal complaint: www.chicagotribune.com/media/acrobat/2008-12/43789434.pdf
Here is the take from Polico.com: Blagojevich weighed a stark quid-pro-quo – he’d appoint a top Obama adviser only if Obama would in turn name Blagojevich secretary of health and human services. The criminal complaint makes clear the Obama adviser is Valerie Jarrett, who was an early contender for the Senate seat. She was then tapped as a top White House aide. www.politico.com
Illinois politics is know throughout the US as corrupt, from the Daley machine in Chicago to “favors for sale” in the capital city of Springfield, Ill. Four of the last seven governors of Illinois have served jail time or were under investigation while in office. However, the Department of Justice (thanks to the US Attorney, a Bush appointee) has been investigating the Illinois Governor for the past three years. The newest development involved the Governor’s attempt (recorded on wire tap by the FBI) to sell the newly vacant US Senate seat (held by President Elect Obama) to the highest bidder. The Obama Team response to the arrest of the Illinois Governor is “we, I mean I, didn’t have contact with the Governor on this” to paraphrase President Elect Obama. Perhaps Mr. Obama didn’t speak directly to the Governor on his US Senate seat vacancy. However, campaign operative David Axelrod as recently as late November stated to the Fox News affiliate in Chicago just the opposite. (Blogger note: The video clip was removed when I tried to access it. More media management by Team Obama?) Try Clipmarks and search for Alexrod. http://clipmarks.com/clipper/Antara/
Here is the Fox News report on what David Axelrod actually said on November 23rd: As Obama works to set up his new administration and deal with a national economic crisis, suddenly he also is spending time and attention trying to distance himself from Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and charges that the governor was trying to sell the now-vacant Senate post. Compounding the headache for Obama is a statement made and since retracted by Obama top adviser David Axelrod that Obama and Blagojevich had discussed the Senate seat. Axelrod told FOX News Chicago on Nov. 23: "I know he's talked to the governor, and there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them." On Tuesday, Axelrod issued a statement saying: "I was mistaken. ... They did not then or at any time discuss the subject."
So the Team Obama defense is: We don’t know the Governor of Illinois (especially now that he is under a criminal complaint), we haven’t talked to him about the US Senate seat vacancy and we are running from Blago (Illinois Guv) as fast as possible. This company line weakens under scrutiny and doesn’t pass the credibility test. While Team Obama is desperately trying to rewind the videotapes of Alexrod and Obama, several nagging facts still persist. Clearly Axelrod is on the record regarding Team Obama with the representation that President Elect Obama did talk to the Illinois Governor during the vacancy discussions of the US Senate appointment. It is highly unlikely that the Governor’s office and Team Obama haven’t been talking about the US Senate vacancy created as a result to Mr. Obama’s election as the next US President. The use of “we” and then “I” in Obama’s press conference would indicate that even President Elect Obama knows that he is skating on thin ethical ice that is covering a known swamp of Illinois politics (the Governor’s office).
The need for true political reform and ethical conduct is paramount for true “Change We can Believe” in. As former Mayor (kind of like a community organizer, but will real responsibility) I find it outrageous that a sitting Governor would actively try to sell a US Senate seat. From the President Elect we hear a statement that is evasive, with more interest his personal reputation, than being truly forthcoming with the relationship between Team Obama and the undistinguished (and soon to be former) Governor of his home state.
Patrick Fitzgerald called the breadth and depth of charges against Blagojevich and his Democratic Chief of Staff John Harris “staggering.” As Michelle Malkin http://michellemalkin.com/ wrote in her blog, the Democrat Governor of Illinois was engaged in a shake down operation that has became the ways things are in Chicago politics and the state capital of Springfield, Ill.
What next? The Legacy Media is attempting to give Team Obama another pass on the Democrat Blogo criminal complaint, but the average American is left with many more questions than answers. Exactly what did Obama know and when? Sounds like the Reverend Wright all over again.
©2008, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media, www.jasperwelch.org