(I see my esteemed Adjunct Blogger, Rich, has already jumped on this story. So has pretty much all of the blogosphere at this point. I’ll just add my thoughts here. First off, I busted out laughing when I first read the news – the whole group I work in thought I was having a fit. When I told them, they busted out laughing.)
Well, it isn’t exactly the Fitzmas the left was hoping for a while back. Then they expected special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald to indict Karl Rove. Never happened of course. But now Fitzgerald has bagged an arguably bigger fish. Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested at his home this morning. Merry Fitzmas!
A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich, a Democrat, was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, 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.
That last line is the one I find most intriguing. There is only one person who can grant those jobs – and only a few people who can lobby that person directly for appointments to those jobs. So who was Blagojevich trying to solicit those bribes from? Was it someone in the Obama transition team? Very likely. But I read elsewhere that Blagojevich has been under investigation – and wiretaps – for about two years now. So I wouldn’t put much stock in at least one rumor that is already being floated on the left – that Rahm Emanuel ratted Blagojevich out to the feds. The feds already had the goods on Blagojevich – this was just the ax falling.
What is going to be interesting is how is the Senate seat vacated by Obama going to be filled now? Blagojevich is reportedly not stepping down as governor. I wonder if he’s shopping for an attorney who can get him off – and be a new Senator from Illinois!
UPDATE: Here’s a transcript (and video) of Fitzgerald explaining how they got the evidence. Over a long period of time, apparently. The attempted auction of a Senate seat was only the cherry on top of this particular dung heap of corruption. My guess is that there are going to be a lot more counts added as this thing progresses.