Culture of corruption in Obama's Chicago bags another criminal!
Questions about Obama's ties to corrupt scheme!
Obama friend, convicted slum lord Tony Rezko, at heart of scheme!
President-elect Barack Obama, right, greets Illinois Gov. Rob Blagojevich, left, at the Bipartisan meeting of the National Governor's Association at Congress Hall, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pa. Looking on are Gov. of Indiana., Mitch Daniels, left center, and Gov. of Ohio, Ted Strickland, right center.
Upon winning their respective elections, both President Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made sweeping statements that their time in office would be the "most ethical in history."
It hasn't gone unnoticed that President-Elect Obama has yet to make such a sweeping declaration. Might it be that there are just too many skeletons in the Obama closet? Can it be that after a campaign which was fueled by the biggest money machine of all time that the chickens are coming home to roost (to use Rev. Wright's famous phrase) a bit early?
Today's arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on multiple corruption charges strikes pretty near the top of the Obama pyramid scheme. The criminal complaint (PDF here) outlines an astounding array of charges and connections to numerous persons who, like Rezko, also have direct personal ties to Obama.
The charges are extraordinary. According to them, Blagojevich and his fundraising cronies used the power of state contracts and jobs to extort campaign contributions. Blagojevich went so far as to threaten the loss of an $8 million grant to a children's hospital if an executive didn't contribute $50,000 to his campaign and tried to get the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune fired in return for a $100 million deal benefitting the paper.
But the most extraordinary charge of all is that Blagojevich attempted to sell Obama's now vacant seat in the U.S. Senate to the highest bidder or trade it in return for an appointment by Obama. The Governor of Illinois has sole power to appoint a replacement to the seat.
What follows is an excerpt of the 76 page criminal complaint filed with the arrest this morning.
CRIMINAL COMPLAINTReports indicate that Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago lawyer and advisor to Obama to be appointed to the Senate seat.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
V. ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, and
II. SUMMARY OF PROBABLE CAUSE
c. Defendants ROD BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, together with others, attempted to use ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s authority to appoint a United States Senator for the purpose of obtaining personal benefits for ROD BLAGOJEVICH, including, among other things, appointment as Secretary of Health & Human Services in the President-elect’s administration, and alternatively, a lucrative job which they schemed to induce a union to provide to ROD BLAGOJEVICH in exchange for appointing as senator an individual whom ROD BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS believed to be favored by union officials and their associates.
14. As detailed below, in early October 2008, the government obtained information
that ROD BLAGOJEVICH was accelerating his corrupt fund raising activities to accumulate as much money as possible before the implementation of ethics legislation on January 1,2009, that would severely curtail ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s ability to raise money from individuals and entities conducting business with the State of Illinois.
III. FACTS ESTABLISHING PROBABLE CAUSE
4. Evidence Concerning Efforts to Obtain Personal Benefits for ROD BLAGOJEVICH in Return for his Appointment of a United States Senator[PDF page 56]
87. By law, after the President-elect’s resignation of his position as a U.S.Senator,
which was effective on November 16, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has sole authority to appoint his replacement for the two years remaining of the President-elect’s Senate term. See 10 ILCS 5/25-8. During the course of this investigation, agents have intercepted a series of communications regarding the efforts of ROD BLAGOJEVICH, JOHN HARRIS, and others to misuse this power to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, for ROD BLAGOJEVICH and his family. In particular, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has been intercepted conspiring to trade the senate seat for particular positions that the President-elect has the power to appoint (e.g. the Secretary of Health and Human Services). ROD 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. ROD BLAGOJEVICH has also been intercepted conspiring to sell the Senate seat in exchange for millions of dollars in funding for a non-profit organization that he would start and that would employ him at a substantial salary after he left the governorship.
92. On November 4, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with JOHN HARRIS regarding the potential vacant Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that the “trick . .. is how do you conduct indirectly . . . a negotiation” for the Senate seat. Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to various teams, stating “how much are you offering, [President-elect]? What are you offering, [Senate Candidate 2]? . . . Can always go to. . . [Senate Candidate 3].” Later ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he will make a decision on the Senate seat “in good faith . . . but it is not coming for free. . . .It’s got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states “[President-elect], you want it? Fine. But, its got to be good or I could always take [the Senate seat].”
93. On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Deputy Governor A regarding positions that ROD BLAGOJEVICH might be able to obtain in exchange for the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat. Among the potential positions discussed were Secretary of Health and Human Services and various ambassadorships. Deputy Governor A noted that the cabinet position of Secretary of the Energy is “the one that makes the most money.” Deputy Governor A stated that it is hard not to give the Secretary of Energy position to a Texan, but with ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s coal background it might be a possibility.
94. On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with JOHN HARRIS regarding what ROD BLAGOJEVICH could obtain for the Senate seat. After discussing various federal governmental positions that ROD BLAGOJEVICH would trade the Senate seat for, ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked about “the private sector” and whether the President elect could “put something together there. . . .Something big.” Thereafter, HARRIS suggested that the President-elect could make ROD BLAGOJEVICH the head of a private foundation. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS that he should do “homework” on private foundations “right away.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked whether he could get a high-ranking position at the Red Cross. HARRIS stated that “it’s got to be a group that is dependent on [the President-elect],” and that a President probably could not influence the Red Cross. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS to “look into all of those.”
95. On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS and Deputy Governor A. They discussed potential private foundations with which ROD BLAGOJEVICH might be able to get a position in exchange for filling the Senate seat and,in particular, those foundations that are “heavily dependent on federal aid” and which, therefore, the White House would have the most “influence” on. ROD BLAGOJEVICH wanted to know how much the positions being discussed pay.
98. On November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he is willing to “trade” the Senate seat to Senate Candidate 1 in exchange for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in the President-elect’s cabinet.
99. Later on November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed the open Senate
seat in a three-way call with JOHN HARRIS and Advisor B, a Washington D.C.-based consultant. ROD BLAGOJEVICH indicated in the call that if he was appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services by the President-elect, then ROD BLAGOJEVICH would appoint Senate Candidate 1 to the open Senate seat.
100. a. ROD BLAGOJEVICH expressed his interest in figuring out a way to make money and build some financial security, while at the same time potentially participating in the political arena again. ROD BLAGOJEVICH mentioned the Senate seat, the dynamics of a new Presidential administration with the strong contacts that ROD BLAGOJEVICH has in it, and asked what if anything he can do to make that work for him and his wife and his responsibilities as Governor of Illinois.
b. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked what he can get from the President-elect for the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that Governor General Counsel believes the President-elect can get ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the President-elect’s pick to the Senate. Governor General Counsel asked, “can [the President-elect] help in the private sector. . . where it wouldn’t be tied to him? . . .I mean, so it wouldn’t necessarily look like one for the other.”
c. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it
up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.”
102. Later on November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed the open Senate seat. Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife on “paid corporate boards right now.” Advisor A responded that he “think[s] they could” and that a “President elect . . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to.” ...
103. ... ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed leaking to the same particular Chicago Sun-Times columnist that ROD BLAGOJEVICH is seriously considering Senate Candidate 5 for the open Senate seat, in order to send a message to the President-elect that there are options for the Senate seat beyond Senate Candidate 1.
104. On November 11, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS about the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH suggested starting a 501(c)(4) organization (a non-profit organization that may engage in political activity and lobbying) and getting “his (believed to be the President-elect’s) friend Warren Buffett or some of those guys to help us on something like that.”
105. Later on November 11, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A. Advisor A indicated that he will stay “on top” of getting the Senate Candidate 5 information leaked to the particular Sun Times columnist. ROD BLAGOJEVICH again raised the idea of the 501(c)(4) organization and asked whether “they” (believed be the President-elect and his associates) can get Warren Buffett and others to put $10, $12, or $15 million into the organization. Advisor A responded that “they” should be able to find a way to fund the organization.
107. On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor B. ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed with Advisor B his idea for a 501(c)(4) organization. Advisor B stated that he likes the idea, but liked the Change to Win option better because, according to Advisor B, from the President-elect’s perspective, there would be fewer “fingerprints” on the President-elect’s involvement with Change to Win because Change to Win already has an existing stream of revenue and, therefore, “you won’t have stories in four years that they bought you off.”
110. On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor B. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Advisor B that he told SEIU Official, “I said go back to [Senate Candidate 1], and, and say hey, look, if you still want to be a Senator don’t rule this out and then broach the idea of this 501(c)(4) with her.”
112. On November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted to be able to call “[President-elect Advisor]” and tell President-elect Advisor that “this has nothing to do with anything else we’re working on but the Governor wants to put together a 501(c)(4)” and “can you guys help him. . . raise 10, 15 million.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted “[President-elect Advisor] to get the word today.”
114. Later on November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Advisor A to call Individual A and have Individual A pitch the
idea of the 501(c)(4) to “[President-elect Advisor].” Advisor A said that, “while it’s not said this is a play to put in play other things.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, “correct.”
I would appear Federal Prosecutor Fitzgerald, who made a name for himself as the Special Prosecutor in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case, had ample evidence to indict Blagojevich on state corruption charges prior to the November election when it might have given voters further insight into the corrupt political environment Obama emerged from. Even more curious is why Fitzgerald choose to spring his trap before Blagojevich named a Senate replacement? Wouldn't it have made the case stronger to wait a few more weeks and determine whether Blagojevich and Obama might actually have made a deal?
Again, the timing on both points indicates a desire to shield Obama. Is Fitzgerald hoping to keep his job in the next Administration?
Questions for Obama
1. Were you aware of Governor Blagojevich's request for help with a position for him and his wife?
2. Which of your staff had contacts with Gov. Blagojevich or his go betweens?
3. Did you make, or ask staff or other individuals to make calls on behalf of securing a position for Gov. Blagojevich or his wife?
4. What safeguards do you have in place to prevent this same kind of Chicago corruption from taking place in your new Administration?
With trillions of dollars up for grabs for bailouts and other federal projects in a new Obama Administration the opportunity for Chicago style corruption is very high. It's compounded by the hundreds of millions in campaign cash raised by Obama and a nationwide network of fundraisers.