Blagojevich goes from “sunshine” to jail in less than a day
From the Department of Famous Last Words, the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich responded today to the Chicago Tribune’s report that he has been recorded by federal investigators, saying people should “feel free” to tape him because everything he says is lawful.
. . . “I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. . . . I can tell you that whatever I say is always lawful and the things I’m interested in are always lawful 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 said.
. . . Blagojevich was asked if he felt there was a cloud over his efforts to pick a Senate replacement for President-elect Barack Obama.
“I don’t believe there’s any cloud that hangs over me, I think there’s nothing but sunshine hanging over me,” Blagojevich said.
Today, based at least in part on evidence gathered in tape-recorded conversations, Blagojevich was arrested for soliciting bribes in exchange for naming Obama’s replacement in the Senate.
Judging from the indictment (PDF download), Obama’s team wasn’t interested in paying him off, and the governor was pissed off:
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.”
In fact, the taped conversations are almost comical in how completely corrupt Blagojevich is:
99. Later on November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed the open Senate seat in a three-way call with JOHN HARRIS and Advisor B, a Washington D.C.-based consultant. ROD BLAGOJEVICH indicated in the call that if he was appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services by the President-elect, then ROD BLAGOJEVICH would appoint Senate Candidate 1 to the open Senate seat. HARRIS stated “we wanted our ask to be reasonable and rather than. . .make it look like some sort of selfish grab for a quid pro quo.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to consider his family and that he is “financially” hurting. HARRIS said that they are considering what will help the “financial security” of the Blagojevich family and what will keep ROD BLAGOJEVICH “politically viable.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, “I want to make money.”
About 13 years ago, I was living in Chicago and stumbled into a coffeehouse on Belmont Avenue on a chilly day. It was nearly empty except for 3 people at a table with assorted campaign materials. The name was long, but I made a point of remembering it (along with the candidate’s bushy hair) just in case he went on to become famous — it was Blagojevich and some aides, apparently sketching out his upcoming run for the U.S. Congress.
The district had been represented for decades by Dan Rostenkowski, who had been forced out after being indicted (and eventually jailed) for corruption. Little did I know at the time that Blagojevich would be an heir to that part of Chicago’s political tradition, too.