Governor of Illinois arrested for corruption!
The Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, has been arrested for attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama to the highest bidder. Under state law, when there is a midterm vacancy in the state’s Senate representation the Governor can appoint a replacement; Federal authorities tapped his phones and claim evidence that Blagojevich was trying to sell the appointment for cold hard cash as well as other benefits for himself and his wife, including lucrative appointments to corporate boards.
In the affidavit, the Governor is quoted as saying “I want to make money,” and noting that a Senate seat “is a f—ing valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.” He allegedly said that he would appoint himself to the seat if he didn’t “get something real good” for it, saying “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.” Another time he said “I’ve got this thing and it’s f—ing golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f—in’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.” Apparently he thought it could put him in good position to run for President himself in 2016. That’s probably pretty unlikely now.
Blagojevich is under investigation for numerous other alleged acts of corruption, including trying to use government powers to pressure the Chicago Tribune to fire reporters who were critical of him. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has called this “the most staggering crime spree in office I have ever seen.” Unfortunately, the only way he can be impeached right now is if the legislature convenes, which can only happen if he calls for it. Which probably isn’t too likely. Apparently they are trying to convene to call for a special election, to get around having the governor appoint someone. The Times Online out of London has a good story detailing some of the alleged deals that the governor was trying to make; I highly recommend it.
If these allegations are true—and I don’t think you arrest a sitting state governor without a surfeit of evidence—then Blagojevich is one corrupt dude and needs to be in jail, not the Illinois governor’s mansion. But one must admit that he fits right in at the Illinois executive mansion, three other Governors of the Land of Lincoln have been jailed in the past 35 years, as reported by MSNBC:
— OTTO KERNER, a Democrat who was governor from 1961 to 1968, served less than a year of a three-year sentence after his 1973 conviction on bribery, tax evasion and other counts. He was convicted of arranging favorable horse racing dates as governor in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. Kerner died in 1976.— DAN WALKER, a Democrat who was governor from 1973 to 1977, served 1 1/2 years of a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. The charges were not related to his service as governor.— GEORGE RYAN, a Republican who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders while he was Illinois secretary of state and then governor. He is serving a 6 1/2-year prison term.