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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Illinois Governor Charged With Trying|to Sell Senate Seat Vacated by Obama

CHICAGO (CN) - Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested this morning on federal corruption charges. Wiretaps recorded Blagojevich discussing how to "sell or trade" the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama "for financial and personal benefits for himself and his wife," prosecutors allege.

Also charged in the 2-count indictment, with a lurid 76-page FBI affidavit, was Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris.

Blagojevich allegedly was recorded saying he would demand hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Senate appointment, or else he would appoint himself.

On the day before the presidential election, Blagojevich discussed with "Deputy Governor A" the Senate seat that Obama would vacate if he were elected president. According to the affidavit, "Rod Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open Senate seat, then Rod Blagojevich will take the Senate seat himself: 'if ... they're not going to offer anything of value, then I might just take it.'"

In talking with "Advisor A" about "Senate Candidate 1," Blagojevich allegedly "stated that the Senate seat 'is a fucking valuable thing, you don't just give it away for nothing.'"

The affidavit, by FBI agent Daniel Cain, also claims that Blagojevich threatened to withhold state aid from the Tribune Co., which filed for bankruptcy Monday, unless it fired editorial board members who had criticized Blagojevich in editorials.

The affidavit includes numerous pages detailing Blagojevich's alleged connections to the Tony Rezko political contributions scandal.

The allegations regarding Blagojevich's alleged attempts to sell the U.S. Senate seat fill pages 54-74 of the FBI affidavit.

"Intercepted phone calls demonstrate that Rod Blagojevich, John Harris, and others have engaged and are engaged in efforts to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, for the benefit of Rod Blagojevich and his family through the corrupt use of Rod Blagojevich's authority as Governor of the State of Illinois to fill the vacant United States Seat previously held by the President-elect," this section begins.

Blagojevich has sole power to appoint someone to the vacant Senate seat.

The affidavit states: "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 nonprofit organization that he would start and that would employ him at a substantial salary after he left the governorship."

Another typical section of the affidavit states: "Rod Blagojevich states that he will appoint '[Senate Candidate 1] ... but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything ... then I'll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5].'"

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