Follow by Email

Friday, April 03, 2009

Blagojevich Indicted On 16 Felony Counts

"Did you see this? Bastard got what he deserves."

Hey folks,

Happy Friday to you. Since it is Friday, time to go to the Emails. This week is a breaking story. RF asked me "Did you see this?" Yup. I actually got the following straight from the New York Times

NYT - Ex-Illinois Governor Is Indicted on Corruption Charges By MONICA DAVEY
Published: April 2, 2009

CHICAGO — Rod R. Blagojevich, this state’s ousted governor, was charged on Thursday with 16 felony counts, among them racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion conspiracy in a wide-ranging scheme to deprive residents of “honest government,” prosecutors said, including trying to leverage his authority to pick someone to fill President Obama’s former Senate seat.

Five of his closest advisers, including his brother, Robert, a top fundraiser, and two former chiefs of staff, were also charged in the 19-count indictment.

Prosecutors said Mr. Blagojevich used numerous elements of his state work — including appointing people to state boards, investing state money and signing legislation — as a way to seek money, campaign contributions and jobs for himself and others.

On Thursday, Mr. Blagojevich and his family were believed to be in Florida at a resort near Walt Disney World. (A tourist spotted the governor there and sent cellphone snapshots to a local television station here.) His publicist said only that the former governor was out of town on spring break with his children.

The long-anticipated indictment in essence replaced charges made against Mr. Blagojevich when he was arrested last December in what turned out to be the start of the rapid coming apart of his political career. The indictment comes at an awkward time for a city that is desperately trying to shed its reputation for political corruption, and that on Thursday was receiving international officials weighing Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 summer Olympics.

Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat then in his second term as governor, was arrested on Dec. 9 on two counts — conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery — in a criminal complaint.

Among the accusations against him, prosecutors said Mr. Blagojevich tried to benefit financially from his role in selecting a replacement to fill President Obama’s former United States Senate seat. The prosecutors described salty, jarringly brazen telephone conversations they had secretly intercepted between Mr. Blagojevich and close advisers in which, the prosecutors said, Mr. Blagojevich spoke of collecting cash contributions, a high-paying job, a cabinet-level post or even an ambassadorship in exchange for the Senate seat Mr. Obama had held since 2005, and only weeks earlier, resigned.

“I’ve got this thing,” Mr. Blagojevich said on one recording, according to an affidavit, “and it’s [expletive] golden. And I’m not just giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not going to do it. And I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”

Since then, Mr. Blagojevich has denied all wrongdoing and said he would fight his case to whatever legal lengths he could.

In the criminal complaint, prosecutors portrayed Mr. Blagojevich as taking part in a broad scheme to raise money for himself in exchange for his official decisions as governor.

They accused Mr. Blagojevich of trying to force the firing of an editorial writer from The Chicago Tribune by threatening to withhold state assistance in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field, owned by the Tribune Company. They said he threatened to withhold $8 million in state money from a children’s hospital if its top executive did not give him a $50,000 contribution. They said he tied state money for a highway project to whether a contractor provided him $500,000 in contributions.

In December, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said he had gone forward with a criminal complaint — not a formal indictment after review of the case by a grand jury — because the intercepted telephone calls had forced the authorities to move quickly to stop what he described as a crime spree in progress.

But at the time, some legal experts suggested that choice might signal that Mr. Fitzgerald did not yet have a prosecutable case in hand, and some raised broader questions about the strength of his case and the difficult legal distinction between illegal acts and simply unseemly political talk. In the nearly four months since, the federal authorities continued their investigation.

Long before his arrest, Mr. Blagojevich, 52 and a former state legislator and member of the United States House, was a widely unpopular governor whose political start had come thanks in large part to the political operation of a powerful Chicago alderman, Dick Mell, who also happened to be Mr. Blagojevich’s father-in-law.

Much has changed for Mr. Blagojevich of late. In January, he was impeached and ousted over his very vocal objections — to nearly any national media outlet that would listen — that he was being railroaded by legislators who had never liked him in the first place. Indeed, Mr. Blagojevich had long ago alienated himself from leaders in Springfield, even though both chambers of the Legislature there were dominated by fellow Democrats who, with Mr. Blagojevich’s election in 2002, controlled the governorship for the first time in 30 years.

Before his impeachment but after his arrest, Mr. Blagojevich ignored the advice of nearly every political leader here and appointed a replacement to fill Mr. Obama’s Senate seat — the very seat for which he had already been accused of seeking payment.

Mr. Blagojevich chose Roland W. Burris, a former attorney general and the state’s first black elected to statewide office. That selection created controversy weeks later, when Mr. Burris, by then an official member of the Senate, acknowledged that he had tried, and failed, to raise money for Mr. Blagojevich at the same time that he had conveyed his interest in the Senate seat. That matter is under investigation by a state prosecutor in downstate Illinois and by the Senate Ethics Committee, which is conducting a preliminary inquiry.

Lately, Mr. Blagojevich has taken on an odd, ubiquitous but peripheral, reality-TV-style celebrity here. His former political life has become the topic of a musical (“Rod Blagojevich Superstar!”) at The Second City, Chicago’s long-standing improvisational comedy theater. He has been offered a minor league baseball contract in Joliet. He was host of a local radio talk show. He announced a six-figure deal for a book, in which he promises to tell all.

Mr. Blagojevich’s indictment — and his return to center stage — came as gloomy news to some Democrats here, who, with elections for governor and the United States Senate approaching in 2010, do not wish to have the public reminded, once more, of his tenure. Here, many Democrats who clashed with Mr. Blagojevich are chafing as Republicans have already begun issuing news releases denouncing the latest acts of the “Blagojevich Democrats.”

The indictment comes just as this state’s government insists that it is now intent in overhauling itself after years of political corruption, deal-making and indictments. Only earlier this week, a “reform commission” created by Patrick J. Quinn, the former lieutenant governor who became governor when Mr. Blagojevich was ousted, announced proposals to cap campaign contributions, bar lobbyists from giving to campaigns and make more information available to the public.

Link - NYT - Ex-Illinois Governor Is Indicted on Corruption Charges

Also see- Chicago Tribune - Key players in indictment of Blagojevich

"Bastard got what he deserves." Not quite yet RF, but he is on his way. I could not agree more. Have a great Weekend folks. See you Sunday.
Peter

Note: "From The Emails" is a weekly segment in the Friday edition of the OPNtalk Blog. If you care to send in News Articles, Comments, Stories, or anything else you may wish to share, please feel free to send it to opntalk@aim.com As always, you never know what you are going to see here.

2 comments:

samspade said...

Now now he is just keeping up Illinois's proud tradition op f corrupt politicians.

It is my state and this is the norm. LOL

Peter said...

I'm sorry to hear that Sam.

"It is my state and this is the norm."

So you are surrounded by Liberal Kooks no matter where you go? Live with them, talk with them over there. Well, they attempt to silence you. It must be interesting to live in your State.

But then again, seems we have the Illinois Political model for the entire US now, so you are no longer alone. {Smile}
Peter