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Tipsheet

Trouble for Obama in the Blagojevich Indictment

The 78-page affadivit against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is a doozy, filled with a bevy of damning quotes and lots of implications for President-elect Barack Obama.
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The criminal complaint filed by Illinois Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald contains detailed excerpts of secretly recorded conversations in which the governor discussed how he would make money off of the Senate seat vacated by Obama.

The Governor is being charged on two counts, bribery and mail and wire fraud. He could face a 20-year statutory maximum.

Blagojevich described the seat as a "valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing" to his Chief of Staff John Harris and compared the situation to a professional athlete who operates as a free agent, shopping himself to various teams for the highest salary. In this case, most of the "shop" talk was related to what President-elect Obama could do for Blagojevich.

Blagojevich said he planned to appoint himself to the seat unless "I get something real good" and frequently employed the f-word in reference to Obama. The governor  indicated "something real good" would be an ambassadorship or Cabinet post, two types of positions that are appointed by the president. Blagojevich's preferred Cabinet appointment was Secretary of Health and Human Services, or Energy Secretary because it is "the one where you make the most money" as one unnamed Deputy Governor said.

"I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain," he said according to the complaint. "You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself."
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He said he would try to make an appointment that would "be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me."

In another conversation with Harris and an unnamed SEIU labor official named a specific salary he was seeking in the range of $250,000-$300,000 and a new "three-way deal." The three of them discussed the prospect of Blagojevich appointing the SEIU's preferred pick to the Senate, Blagojevich being named to a union advocacy organization called "Change to Win" and Obama's support for Change to Win's legislative agenda. Another idea proposed by Blagojevich was the creation of a $10-$15 million Warren Buffett-funded 501(c)4 for the governor to lead.

There was also frank talk of how to land Blagojevich's wife a well-paying position on a private, corporate board.

The complaint is available HERE.

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