"Illinois Governor Taken Into Federal Custody For Abusing His Authority To Appoint Obama Successor"
Federal authorities took Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and his chief of staff John Harris into custody this morning on federal corruption charges. Before the arrest, the Chicago Tribune had reported that a “three-year federal corruption investigation of pay-to-play politics in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration has expanded to include his impending selection of a new U.S. senator to succeed President-elect Barack Obama.” According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office:
A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:
— a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;
— placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
— promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and
— a cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.
Fitzgerald, who successfully prosecuted Scooter Libby, said in a statement that “the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering.” “I want to make money,” the affidavit quotes Blagojevich as saying in one conversation. The full 76-page two-count criminal complaint can be found here. FireDogLake has more.
Today is a sad day for the state of Illinois. It is important that we let the justice system run its course and remember that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But if these allegations are even remotely true, they would represent a shameful breach of the public trust and be cause for the Governor’s immediate resignation.