The Politics Thread

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The Politics Thread

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http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/09/ill...rnor/index.html

Blagojevich free on $4,500 bail after arrestStory Highlights

NEW: Gov. Rod Blagojevich released on $4,500 bail, forfeits passport

NEW: Barack Obama says he had "no contact" as governor chose his successor

Blagojevich arrested, accused of conspiring to sell Obama's Senate seat

Governor can still appoint Obama's successor despite arrest, U.S. attorney says

(CNN) -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appeared in court Tuesday afternoon to hear federal corruption charges against him. He was released on $4,500 bail.

Rod Blagojevich is serving his second term as governor of Illinois.

The governor, who appeared in court in a blue jogging suit, also had to forfeit his passport.

FBI agents arrested Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, early Tuesday on federal corruption charges related in part to the selection of President-elect Barack Obama's successor to the Senate, the U.S. attorney's office said.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declared Tuesday a "sad day for government."

"Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a new low," he said. "This conduct would make [Abraham] Lincoln roll over in his grave."

Fitzgerald said the government had bugged the governor's campaign office and placed a tap on his home phone.

Obama reacted to the news at a press conference on Tuesday.

"Obviously, like the rest of the people of Illinois, I am saddened and sobered by the news that came out of the U.S. attorney's office today," he said. "But as this is an ongoing investigation involving the governor, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on the issue at this time."

When asked by reporters whether he had any contact with Blagojevich about the Senate seat, Obama said he had no contact with the governor or his office.

"I was not aware of what was happening," he added.

Fitzgerald said the case required "unusual measures" because of actions Blagojevich was expected to take soon, including filling the vacant Senate seat. "There were a lot of things going on that were imminent," he said.

"We were in the middle of a corruption crime scene and we wanted to stop it," Fitzgerald said. Watch: Fitzgerald discusses Obama's Senate seat »

One big question now is whether Blagojevich retains the right to name Obama's successor if he remains in custody or even under indictment. The answer is yes, according to Fitzgerald.

Jay Stewart, executive director of Chicago's Better Government Association, agreed. He said Blagojevich retains the right to fill the senate vacancy until he's out of office, which won't happen unless he quits or is removed from office by impeachment.

At a press conference Tuesday, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said he wants the Illinois Legislature to act quickly to pass a law setting a special election to fill Obama's seat, in order to prevent Blagojevich from making a tainted appointment or there being a lengthy vacancy in the Senate.

"No appointment by this governor under these circumstances could produce a credible replacement," Durbin said. iReport.com: What do you think of Blagojevich's corruption charges?

Fitzgerald said Blagojevich was looking to pull $8 million in funding for a children's hospital after the hospital's chief executive officer did not give a $50,000 contribution to the governor's campaign.

Also, Fitzgerald said, it was expected that Blagojevich would soon sign into law a bill that would direct a percentage of casino revenue to the horse racing industry -- a bill supported by someone who contributed $100,000.

"To let that bill be signed, to me, would be very, very troubling," Fitzgerald said.

The governor's office, in an afternoon statement, said the allegations "do nothing to impact the services, duties or function of the state."

"Our state will continue to ensure health, safety and economic stability for the citizens of Illinois."

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said the governor should use a provision in the Illinois constitution that allows him to step down, but not necessarily to resign. "I recommend to the governor to realize ... that he cannot carry out his responsibilities of office today, and he should, in my opinion, step aside."

Quinn, a Democrat like Blagojevich, said under the provision, a determination can be made later as to whether he can return to office.

Quinn said he had not spoken to Blagojevich at length since summer 2007.

In a 76-page affidavit, federal authorities say wiretaps caught Blagojevich conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat in exchange for financial benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

The governor also often weighed the option of appointing himself to the Senate seat, saying he was "stuck" at governor and might have access to more resources as a senator than as a governor, the affidavit says. A Senate seat could also help him remake his image ahead of a possible presidential run in 2016. "If ... they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it," he said in one conversation.

At times, he discussed obtaining a substantial salary for himself at a nonprofit organization or an organization affiliated with labor unions, as well as placing his wife on paid corporate boards where she might make as much as $150,000 a year, the government said.

During one recorded conversation, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and said he was financially hurting, the affidavit said.

"I want to make money," Blagojevich said, according to the affidavit.

The intercepted phone calls also caught the governor and Harris discussing the possibility of the Tribune Company's obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority in efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field, the government said. The company owns the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs, and Wrigley Field.

Tribune Co., announced Monday it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Blagojevich allegedly directed Harris to tell Tribune officials that state assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board were fired. The Illinois governor saw them as "driving discussion of his possible impeachment," the affidavit said.

"Our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support," the governor allegedly said in one phone call.

Federal authorities also allege the governor and Harris schemed with others -- including convicted real estate developer Antoin "Tony" Rezko -- to obtain financial benefits for himself, his family and others, including his campaign committee, Friends of Blagojevich.

Reports from the Chicago Tribune last week said federal authorities were investigating the governor and were secretly taping his conversations -- with the help of his former congressional chief of staff, John Wyem.

"I don't believe there's any cloud that hangs over me," Blagojevich told WLS-TV in Chicago on Monday, as he responded to the reports of wiretapping. "I think there's nothing but sunshine hanging over me."

He added, "By the way, I should say if anyone wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly."

Blagojevich, who turns 52 on Wednesday, is in his second four-year term as Illinois governor. His term ends January 2011.

Before that, he served as a U.S. congressman for Illinois' 5th district from 1997 until 2003, according to his online biography.

He and his wife have two daughters.

The state's last governor, George Ryan, was convicted in April 2006 on racketeering and fraud charges.

Ryan reported to a federal prison in Wisconsin in November 2007 to serve a 6½-year sentence. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of the United States said it would not hear an appeal from Ryan.

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As a resident of Illinois, I would like to say I was suprised by this news but that would be lying.

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Chicago Democrats are as corrupt as they come. However, the ultimate blame goes to the idiot voters of Illinois, who easily re-elected Blago two years ago despite the fact that a huge ethical cloud hung over him.

Illinois is extremely similar to my home state of New Jersey in several aspects. In both states, the Democratic party has complete dominance of state government, and govern in an extremely corrupt manner. Also, it is simply impossible for a Republican to win a statewide election in either state. Finally, both NJ and IL voters don't give a damn about ethics, choosing to instead re-elect the corrupt Democrats every time.

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^^Well, our last governor was also corrupt and was a Republican and is currently in prison serving a six and a half-year sentence for accepting bribes while Secretary of State. One of those bribes lead to the death of six children because he was handing out a licenses to unqualified truck drivers.

And our other choice in 2006 wasn't that great.

Edited by jcar03

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Gov. Blagojevich is just a real dumb ass. What an idiot.

Edited by Jess

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Wow, makes you wonder how deep the corruption runs in Illinois government. ;) Any other high-profile Illinois Democrats have dirty secrets hidden away? :o

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Wow, makes you wonder how deep the corruption runs in Illinois government. ;) Any other high-profile Illinois Democrats have dirty secrets hidden away? :o

I don't know.

I'll ask former Republican Senate contender Jack Ryan that question........once he gets out of the sex clubs he took his ex-wife to.

I guess we'll now play everyone's favorite gameshow "Only the Democrats Are Corrupt".

Edited by Roman

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This man is a douchbag and should get every one of the 30 years that are being thrown at him for the years of corruption he acted on in that state.

But to act like Democrats are the only ones who do this shitis quite......silly.

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I am no fan of many of the Dumbocraps that are in office, but there are several I admire and appreciate. I never once suggested or even hinted that this kind of thing is only something that the Dems would do. That would be laughable at best.

But what is it with Chicago....does it have to do with the mob? Good lord, are the Dems and Repubs all the same?

I just hope that the President Elect has NOTHING to do with this and I doubt he does, although the statements by Axlerod say otherwise (Obama said he never talked to the Gov, but the man who was along side him the past two years at every turn said he did LOL).

But a converstation between Obama and the Corrupt Gov mean nothing, unless of course the pay for play topic came up.

Which I doubt highly that it did.

I am no fan of many of the Dumbocraps that are in office, but there are several I admire and appreciate. I never once suggested or even hinted that this kind of thing is only something that the Dems would do. That would be laughable at best.

But what is it with Chicago....does it have to do with the mob? Good lord, are the Dems and Repubs all the same?

I just hope that the President Elect has NOTHING to do with this and I doubt he does, although the statements by Axlerod say otherwise (Obama said he never talked to the Gov, but the man who was along side him the past two years at every turn said he did LOL).

But a converstation between Obama and the Corrupt Gov mean nothing, unless of course the pay for play topic came up.

Which I doubt highly that it did.

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The FBI has said Obama had nothing to do with it

The tapes quote the corrupt governor as blasting the Obama folks for saying that the corrupt governor will get nothing from Obama but appreciation

Obama has said that he had no contact with the corrupt governor

Axelrod has said that he was wrong when he said Obama had spoken with the corrupt governor

All of the would-be Senate candidates have said Obama had nothing to do with the corrupt governor.

It has been reported in the media that Obama and the corrupt governor did not get along and had not gotten along in two years.

Dick Durbin, the other Democratic senator from Illinois, has said that the corrupt governor did not return his phone calls nor did the corrpt governor talk with Obama.

You know, unless some one can prove otherwise, then I think it is safe to say Obama had nothing to do with the corrupt governor.

Now my question, did the corrupt governor ever act on his comments or did he just talk? And, if he never acted, is there still a crime?

Edited by Jess

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The FBI has said Obama had nothing to do with it

The tapes quote the corrupt governor as blasting the Obama folks for saying that the corrupt governor will get nothing from Obama but appreciation

Obama has said that he had no contact with the corrupt governor

Axelrod has said that he was wrong when he said Obama had spoken with the corrupt governor

All of the would-be Senate candidates have said Obama had nothing to do with the corrupt governor.

It has been reported in the media that Obama and the corrupt governor did not get along and had not gotten along in two years.

Dick Durbin, the other Democratic senator from Illinois, has said that the corrupt governor did not return his phone calls nor did the corrpt governor talk with Obama.

You know, unless some one can prove otherwise, then I think it is safe to say Obama had nothing to do with the corrupt governor.

Now my question, did the corrupt governor ever act on his comments or did he just talk? And, if he never acted, is there still a crime?

From what I understand, it became a crime when he sought any type of compensation for favors rendered.

When they got his beyond stupid ass on tape saying this [!@#$%^&*], he broke the law.

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From what I understand, it became a crime when he sought any type of compensation for favors rendered.

When they got his beyond stupid ass on tape saying this [!@#$%^&*], he broke the law.

It is unbelievable how stupid he is. I know Chicago pols have done this type thing for years at one level -- but selling a senate seat??? Did it not occur to him that that if he did sell the seat, those who lost would get wind of it?

I think the FBI did the right thing. They stepped in before he did any real damage by selling the seat. I'm just wondering if he ever approached anybody on the deal. It sounds like he did with the Jackson folks.

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I don't know.

I'll ask former Republican Senate contender Jack Ryan that question........once he gets out of the sex clubs he took his ex-wife to.

I guess we'll now play everyone's favorite gameshow "Only the Democrats Are Corrupt".

Roman, both Republicans and Democrats are corrupt. It's the nature of politics and individual failing of a person and has nothing to do with affiliation to a political party, in my opinion.

But please don't knee-jerk react to my post by shifting the focus to a corrupt Republican. We can play that game all day long going back and forth mentioning every corrupt jackass on both sides of the aisle.

Besides, Obama has had no contact with Governor B. His people say so... Not so much as a brief memo even SUGGESTING they should discuss the vacant Senate seat... right? I mean, personally, I find it hard to believe that it has never come up in conversation... not even when the two met and were photographed meeting on December 2...

But, friends, I will take Obama at his word -- just as the press did for much of his campaign -- and will avoid asking any questions that could result in any answers at all. :D

But I'll leave the speculation to the pundits, such as John Fund at the Wall Street Journal, who writes:

What remains to be seen is whether this episode will put an end to what Chicago Tribune political columnist John Kass calls the national media's "almost willful" fantasy that Mr. Obama and Chicago's political culture have little to do with each other. Mr. Kass notes that the media devoted a lot more time and energy to investigating the inner workings of Sarah Palin's Wasilla, Alaska, than it has looking at Mr. Obama's Chicago connections.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1228953565...ss_opinion_main

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Chicago Democrats are as corrupt as they come. However, the ultimate blame goes to the idiot voters of Illinois, who easily re-elected Blago two years ago despite the fact that a huge ethical cloud hung over him.

Illinois is extremely similar to my home state of New Jersey in several aspects. In both states, the Democratic party has complete dominance of state government, and govern in an extremely corrupt manner. Also, it is simply impossible for a Republican to win a statewide election in either state. Finally, both NJ and IL voters don't give a damn about ethics, choosing to instead re-elect the corrupt Democrats every time.

I think corruption is more prone in one-party states. However, as a point of clarification, Blagojevich is only the second Democratic governor elected in Illinois since 1970. His predecessor, a Republican, is now in prison for corruption. I don't think it's too hard for Republicans to get elected to statewide office in Illinois.

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