Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been arrested by FBI agents:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges.
Blagojevich and Harris were accused of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that included Blagojevich conspiring to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama in exchange for financial benefits for the governor and his wife. The governor was also accused of obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for other official actions.
Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North Side home this morning.
The Trib is live-blogging the developments as they happen. This is a breaking story.
The only surprise in this is that it took so long. In my lifetime three Illinois governors have been convicted of corruption after serving their terms as governor and done prison time. I’ve been predicting for more than a year that Gov. Blagojevich would make it four. The most likely defense is that he’s too stupid to be bad.
On the Trib’s 8:57 update
He’s even dumber than I thought. He knew that the Feds were watching him and he still tried to buy a job with the Obama Administration?!
“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement. “They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”
Not a moment too soon. A senator appointed by Rod Blagojevich and one appointed by Pat Quinn, the Lieutenant Governor who undoubtedly will succeed Blagojevich would be two different breeds of cat. I’ve met Pat Quinn and he struck me as a very decent guy.
The day after the election, Harris allegedly suggested to Blagojevich that the President-elect could make him the head of a private foundation.
Later on November 5, Blagojevich said to Advisor A, “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there,” the affidavit states.
If a tenth of what’s in the indictment is true, Blagojevich might serve the rest of his life in the clink.
Considering the number and severity of the charges against him, I strongly suspect we’re about to see where the bodies are buried. Tony Rezko was one thing. This is something else again.
Perhaps we should be starting a pool on how many highly-placed Illinois politicos fall.
More from the complaint:
Also on November 12, in a conversation with Harris, the complaint affidavit states that Blagojevich said his decision about the open Senate seat will be based on three criteria in the following order of importance: our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon that. Legal. Personal. Political.” Harris said: “legal is the hardest one to satisfy.” Blagojevich said that his legal problems could be solved by naming himself to the Senate seat.
This is really evil stuff.
Update 4 (10:10am)
Former Alderman Ed Eisendrath has called for Blagojevich’s resignation:
Edwin Eisendrath, who was a Chicago alderman and Blagojevich’s opponent in the 2006 primary, issued the following statement this morning:
“This is a day many of us anticipated but wished would never happen. For the second time in a row a Governor from Illinois has been arrested and charged with serious crimes. In this case, Governor Blagojevich is charged with selling an appointment to the United States Senate, effectively undermining our democracy.
“Rod Blagojevich must resign immediately in order to preserve the integrity of the Senate selection process. If he refuses, the Illinois legislature must step in to remove him”
In case you’re wondering the Illinois Constitution has provisions for removing the governor:
SECTION 14. IMPEACHMENT
The House of Representatives has the sole power to conduct legislative investigations to determine the existence of cause for impeachment and, by the vote of a majority of the members elected, to impeach Executive and Judicial officers. Impeachments shall be tried by the Senate. When sitting for that purpose, Senators shall be upon oath, or affirmation, to do justice according to law. If the Governor is tried, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senators elected. Judgment shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold any public office of this State. An impeached officer, whether convicted or acquitted, shall be liable to prosecution, trial, judgment and punishment according to law.
As I mentioned above the governor would be succeeded by the Lieutenant Governor, in this case Pat Quinn.
I concur with Marc Ambinder: Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is probably Senate candidate 5. A lot more shoes are going to drop in this nightmare.