The Blog

Gov. Rod Blagojevich Arrested: Time to Play Name That Party

11:09 AM, Dec 9, 2008 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Gov. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested at their homes this morning in a probe involving the governor's quest to fill Sen. Barack Obama's Senate seat.

The charges also include alleged attempts by the governor to influence the Tribune editorial board.

The governor threatened that if the Tribune didn't support the governor, he wouldn't approve the sale of Wrigley Field.

The complaint contends Blagojevich threatened to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich.

The governor is also accused of obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for official actions - both in the past and recently in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect Jan. 1.

Blagojevich, 51, and Harris, 46, both of Chicago, are each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

They were charged in a two-count criminal complaint that was sworn out on Sunday and unsealed today following their arrests, which occurred without incident, the feds said.

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 Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife.

At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich allegedly 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.

• A cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

If you read the whole piece, you might notice that the Sun-Times doesn't mention that Blagojevich is a member of a party that begins with "D" and ends with "emocrat." (Update: the Sun-Times just slipped Blagojevich's party affiliation into the story. As you'll see from the comments section, it wasn't always there.) It seems like the Chicago Tribune didn't have enough space to include this detail, though the Trib did find room to work in a gratuitous reference to Watergate (remember: there are Republican crooks, too!) and report that "Democrats" were concerned about Blagojevich's actions before he was busted:

Unlike the recordings that the federal government has of Blagojevich, the tapes that led to President Richard Nixon's 1974 resignation over the burglary of Democratic offices at the Watergate complex and the ensuing coverup were made by Nixon himself.

Regardless of "whether you tape me privately or publicly, I can tell you that whatever I say is always lawful and the things I'm interested in are always lawful," Blagojevich said. "And if there are any things out there like that, what you'll hear is a governor who tirelessly and endlessly figures out ways to help average, ordinary working people."

Blagojevich's comments came amid increasing concern by Democrats that the governor's pending appointment of a Senate successor may become politically tainted as a result of the investigations surrounding his administration. Federal investigators have been looking into allegations of corruption regarding state jobs, appointments and contracts in connection with Blagojevich's prolific fundraising.

John J. Miller points out that the New York Times also neglected to mention that Blago is a Democrat, though the Times story has now been updated to include this detail. The AP report initially left out the D-word, but has also updated its story to include this detail. So it goes.

For more on the Blago-Saga, see Drudge for the juicy details.

Update: Newsbusters has more.