RNC Chair Candidates on Blagojevich

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Dec 10, 2008 3:27 PM
Several RNC Chair candidates are weighing-in on the Blagojevich scandal.  Following are the statements I received today:

... RNC Chairman Mike Duncan released this today:

“President-elect Barack Obama’s carefully parsed and vague statements regarding his own contact and that of his team with Governor Rod Blagojevich are unacceptable.  Considering the severity of the allegations against Governor Blagojevich, the President-elect should immediately disclose any and all communications his transition team has had with the governor’s office along with any Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials involved in the matter.  Obama’s promise of transparency to the American people is now being tested.”

... Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell had some interesting questions and comments for Obama: 


Open Letter to President-elect Obama on Illinois Conspiracy

Dear Mr. President-elect:

The developing criminal investigation of your friends and allies in Illinois demands you take action. There are three specific things that you can do to dispel what could otherwise be a cloud hanging over your first days in office.

Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich has been a longtime friend and political ally of yours. You worked to support each others’ campaigns for statewide office in Illinois, and have worked together on numerous policy issues. Now the FBI has arrested Governor Blagojevich for trying to sell the Senate seat that you vacated to assume the presidency.

First, you must explain why your statement on the Illinois scandal contradicts the statements of your closest adviser. You made an on-camera statement the day Mr. Blagojevich was arrested, saying that you had not even spoken to the governor about possible replacements for you. However, your close adviser for several years now, David Axelrod, who is now slated to become your senior adviser in the White House, speaking of you, said, “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names.”

The transcripts of the phone calls intercepted by the FBI show that Mr. Blagojevich knew, by name, a specific person you wanted to fill your seat. This could support Mr. Axelrod’s public statement that you discussed this subject with the governor. And now questions are also swirling as to whether your incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was party to any such conversations.

Either your statement or your top adviser’s statement is untrue. Which is it?

Second, you must support a criminal prosecution of whoever Senate Candidate #5 is. Those same FBI transcripts repeatedly show one specific person being considered for your Senate seat was offering bribes to the governor. That person must be investigated, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, just as Mr. Blagojevich is being prosecuted.

Third, you must publicly promise you will not remove Patrick Fitzgerald from office while he is prosecuting these criminals. Mr. Fitzgerald in the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and is leading this investigation. You and your Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House had nothing but praise for Mr. Fitzgerald when he prosecuted a prominent Republican a couple years ago. Having lavished such kind words on Mr. Fitzgerald, you cannot fire him from his post until this matter is resolved. To do so would enmesh you in this scandal.

You were quick to call for stringent law enforcement and full disclosure when Republicans had their scandals. Now some of your closest Democratic friends and allies are embroiled in a criminal conspiracy involving multiple felonies, and you must hold them to the same standard. And you can start by telling us what you know about this situation, and when you knew it.

Sincerely,

J. Kenneth Blackwell

... SC GOP Chair Katon Dawson issued the following statement:

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson today called on President-elect Barack Obama to uphold his pledge of expanded transparency and release any records of discussions between the Obama-Biden transition office and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich regarding the appointment of Obama’s successor to the United States Senate.  Today, Governor Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff were arrested for corruption and conspiring to profit from the Governor’s ability to appoint Obama’s successor.

“President-elect Obama’s presidential transition team has said the American people should have a ‘seat at the table’ and pledged to expand transparency in decision-making.  If President-elect Obama is serious, he should immediately release all records of discussions about the appointment of Obama’s successor that he and his transition team may have had with Governor Blagojevich or Governor Blagojevich’s office.  The American people expect and deserve nothing less. When politicians like Governor Rod Blagojevich exploit the power of elected office for personal gain, they demonstrate a disregard for standards of integrity and ethical conduct.  Governor Blagojevich’s actions are breathtaking in their callousness and arrogance.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Governor Blagojevich has been accused of corruption that includes putting a “for sale sign on the naming of a United States senator.”  In the
criminal complaint, federal authorities say Governor Blagojevich sought  to “leverage” President-elect Obama’s transition team as Governor Blagojevich considered who to appoint to the U.S. Senate.

Last week, the Obama-Biden Transition Team announced a
“Your Seat at the Table” transparency policy and promised to make public “any documents from official meetings with outside organizations…for people to review and comment on.” As of noon today, a search for “Blagojevich” on that site turned up no results.