2008/12/09

Well it's about time

Rod Blagojevich arrested for massive corruption? If you're surprised then you haven't been following Illinois politics at all.

But this?!
At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment [replacing Barack Obama], 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.

Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might "get some (money) up front, maybe" from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. . . . On November 7, while talking on the phone about the Senate seat with Harris and an advisor, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and that he is "financially" hurting, the affidavit states. Harris allegedly said that they were considering what would help the "financial security" of the Blagojevich family and what will keep Blagojevich "politically viable." Blagojevich stated, "I want to make money," adding later that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 a year, the complaint alleges.

On November 10, in a lengthy telephone call with numerous advisors . . . Blagojevich and others discussed various ways Blagojevich could "monetize" the relationships he has made as governor to make money after leaving that office. . . .

Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being "stuck" as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife's employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office.
This suggests that Blagojevich was not just exceptionally corrupt even by Illinois standards - and that's already quite an achievement - but that he was compulsively corrupt, that he persisted with ever-increasing levels of corruption even after any well-grounded run-of-the-mill corrupt politician would have realized that he was done for. Blagojevich, on the other hand, thought he could either get a lot of money by selling the Senate seat or appoint himself, which would help position him both to repulse an indictment and run for president. The only way to interpret this is as pathology.

Lt Gov Pat Quinn, who has called for Blagojevich to resign, is next in line for governor. That would be a marked improvement - Quinn has a reputation as a reformer in Illinois politics, he supported the constitutional convention and has spoken out on making the tax system less regressive and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Quinn may not be as aggressively progressive as we might like, but getting him the governor's mansion might be exactly what we need to start cleaning up the state and making progress on key issues like the state capital funding bill and getting rid of the flat income tax that have been mired for years in the dysfunction created by Blagojevich's megalomania.

4 comments:

Kyle said...

There are some real gems if you read the complaint. I was most amused at the dreamed-up scheme where he would somehow become the head of the Change to Win union coalition, and his wife would hold the job until his term was up.

Also, this piece:

"ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.”

Jon said...

My personal favorite was how he simultaneously dreamed of becoming President in 2016, AND wanted to appoint himself Senator so he would be better equipped to fight the Feds WHEN they indicted him (not if).

I suppose he's right on track to rise like a phoenix in 8 years...

chris said...

you know it's a good scandal when the tv news digs up an "expert" who says that the governor has a real chance of getting off on an insanity plea.

Robyn said...

IL/LA corruption comparison:
http://www.slate.com/id/2206523