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Archive for December, 2008

ABC Says Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is “Senate Candidate No. 5” in Governor Scandal

There’s still plenty blanks to fill in in this sizzling case.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr./official photo

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr./official photo

Chicago Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., is the anonymous “Senate Candidate No. 5” whose emissaries Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich reportedly offered up to $1 million to name him to the U.S. Senate, federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News.
The politician says he is not a target of the Blagojevich investigation.
According to the FBI affidavit in the case, Blagojevich “stated he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided ROD BLAGOJEVICH” with something “tangible up front.”
Jackson said this morning he was contacted Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Chicago whom he said “asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process.”
Read More

Gov Blagojevich: Narcissistic, Vengeful and Profane?

In many instances, when politicians like ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and ex-Sen. John Edwards step over the line, the word “narcissistic” surfaces. Not surprising, it’s popped up again in this case.

By SUSAN SAULNY
New York Times
CHICAGO – Little in Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s background prepared the people of Illinois for the man who was revealed in the criminal complaint that dropped like a bombshell here on Tuesday. Delusional, narcissistic, vengeful and profane, Mr. Blagojevich as portrayed by federal prosecutors shocked even his most ardent detractors.
“I almost fell over,” said Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and a frequent critic of the governor. “I was speechless and sickened. In all of the millions of indictments I’ve read over the last years, I can’t remember anything as vile as this.”
Mike Jacobs, a Democratic state senator and former friend of the governor, suggested that Mr. Blagojevich may have lost his grip on reality.
“I’m not sure he’s playing with a full deck anymore,” Mr. Jacobs said. “I think he brought a lot of this on himself. He’s so gifted, but so flawed in a number of fundamental areas. It’s like he dared the feds to come get him.”
for Full Story

Sec. Chertoff Advises Not to Change Homeland Security Immediately

Michael Chertoff

Michael Chertoff

Many critics are calling for major changes in the Department of Homeland Security.  But Sec. Michael Chertoff’s Advice is : Don’t — at least not right away.

By GREGG CARLSTROM
Federal Times
WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has some advice for his successor: Don’t tinker with the Homeland Security Department. At least not right away.
“I would stop reorganizing,” he said in an interview last week. “Every time there’s a reorganization, it sets you back a year. People don’t know where they’re going to go, what their future is, what their job description is going to be.”
Last week, President-elect Barack Obama named Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as his choice to head the Homeland Security Department.
Chertoff applauded the choice; he said he would encourage her to wait two years and then decide on any organizational changes.
“If she then decides she wants to tweak things, you know, that’s fine, but she needs to have the experience,” he said.
For Full Story

Read ticklethewire columnist James G. Huse Jr.’s column on Changing Homeland Security

In Illinois Gov. Scandal the Question is: Who is “Candidate 5”

Gov. Blagojevich/state photo

Gov. Blagojevich/state photo

No question, with a scandal of this magnitude  there will be many many more questions in coming weeks….like who was “Candidate 5” mentioned in the charging papers? Inquiring minds want to know.

By Ben Protess
ProPublica

The FBI’s arrest today of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has brought a new figure into our political lexicon: “Senate Candidate 5.”
The FBI recorded Blagojevich last week saying to an adviser that “Candidate 5” might raise money for Blagojevich and even give him “some (money) up front, maybe” in exchange for being appointed to replace Obama, according to today’s criminal complaint (PDF) filed by the United States Attorney’s office in Chicago.
Blagojevich has the sole power to appoint Obama’s replacement under the state constitution. Blagojevich allegedly analogized this power to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to the highest bidder, telling an adviser, “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden…I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing.”
For Full Story

Read Criminal Complaint

Read U.S. Attorney’s Press Release

Excerpt From Charges: Gov. Calls Obama a MotherF–

Brazen Words Left Agents Shocked (Washington Post)

Morning Arrest: Government Asks is This a Joke? (Chicago Tribune)

Union Officials Allegedly Acted as Go-Between (Washington Post)

Senate Confirms N.Y. Fed Prosecutor to Oversee $700 Billion Bailout

Someone has got to watch over this bailout. Hopefully Neil Barofsky is up to the challenge. If not,  the politicians will have someone to blame.

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON (Tuesday) — The Senate yesterday confirmed a New York prosecutor as the chief watchdog of the $700 billion financial bailout program, giving him monitoring responsibility over a plan that has come under increasing criticism for lack of oversight.
Neil M. Barofsky becomes the special inspector general for the program after nearly half of the money has been allocated and as lawmakers continue to decry the Bush administration’s implementation of the plan. The Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, said last week that plans are inadequate to enforce executive compensation limits and safeguards against conflict of interest.
“Obviously this will be an extraordinary challenge,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement. “Mr. Barofsky will have to play catch-up and work ferociously in order to account for the $310 billion that has already been spent, while properly supervising the rest of the relief, but I believe that he is up to the task.”
For Full Story

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald Holds Press Conference

Video on Illinois Governor’s Arrest

Breaking News: Illinois Gov. Blagojevich and Chief of Staff Arrested in Corruption Probe

Well, all you can say is: Louisiana you don’t have anything over on Illinois. The state has one ex-gov in prison and a current one under indictment.

Gov. Blagojevich

Gov. Blagojevich

By Jon Perkins
ticklethwire.com

Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested yesterday on a criminal complaint alleging “a political corruption crime spree” that included conspiring to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate position.
Blagojevich, who has been under investigation for at least three years by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the district attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, was taken into custody by the FBI early Tuesday at his home on Chicago’s North Side. He and his chief of staff, John Harris, are charged in a “pay to play scheme” that
allegedly included: seeking jobs and benefits for Blagojevich and his wife; threatening to withdraw $8 million in funding for a Chicago children’s hospital, pushing for Chicago Tribune editors to be fired in
exchange for favorable treatment on the company’s proposed sale of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field and kickbacks on horse racing and casino legislation.
The 76-page criminal complaint based on about a month and a half of wiretaps at Blagojevich’s home and campaign offices, alleges that the governor wanted kickbacks in exchange for appointing someone to the Senate seat Obama vacated after winning election as president.
“The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” Fitzgerald said, quoting Blagojevich as saying the Senate seat is “a bleeping valuable thing. You just don’t give it away. … I’ve got this thing and it’s bleeping golden.”
Fitzgerald called the allegations “staggering.” This is “corruption at its absolute best.” Illinois politics has a history of chicinary going back years. Since the 1960s, three men who have been governor have been sent to jail. The latest, former governor George Ryan, is in prison on bribery and corruption charges related to his
time as Illinois secretary of state and governor, in a probe headed by Fitzgerald.
He said Blagojevich was arrested yesterday to stop actions that could have to be later reversed.
Fitzgerald called the corruption charges against Blagojevich “a truly new low.” Blagojevich wasn’t against the corrupt deal for the Senate seat, he was against “being stiffed in the corrupt deal,”Fitzgerald said. Two aides reportedly told Blagojevich to appoint whoever Obama wanted to the Senate post, but the governor reportedly said “bleep them.” He reportedly considered naming himself to the post or asking for a cabinet-level job including secretary of Health and Human Services or an ambassadorship.
Blagojevich “talked about selling it like a sports agent,” Fitzgerald said.
The governor was released on bond after a court appearance. Fitzgerald said the investigation into Blagojevich continues.
Blagojevich, as governor, has the sole authority to name Obama’s replacement. Fitzgerald, who many speculate is ticketed for a high-ranking Justice Department post, said his office is not implying that Obama had knowledge or was aware of the alleged scheming. Obama, who was “saddened and sobered” by the arrest, said he had had no contact with Blagojevich on the appointment. Blagojevich’s arrest does not preclude him from making the appointment.
Robert Grant, FBI special agent in charge of the Chicago office, characterized Illinois’ place in the pantheon of political corruption. “If it isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor,” Grant said. “Even the most cynical agents in our office were shocked.”
Fitzgerald  was behind the recent conviction of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a
financier and fund-raiser who has been connected to several  Illinois
Democrats including  Blagojevich and Obama.  Rezko reportedly is
cooperating with Fitzgerald in his probe into Illinois political
corruption.

For Full Story

Read Criminal Complaint

Read U.S. Attorney’s Press Release

Columnist Eric Zorn: Charges ‘staggering,’ even by Illinois standards (Chicago Tribune)

Trib Was Asked To Delay Publishing Stories

Obama Said He Had No Contact Over Senate Seat (Chicago Tribune)