Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested by the FBI today, accused of “brazenly” trying to sell Barack Obama’s soon-to-be vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder, among other serious charges.
Federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday on charges that he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field, according to a federal criminal complaint. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.
A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti. Otherwise, Blagojevich considered appointing himself. The affidavit said that as late as Nov. 3, he told his deputy governor that if “they’re not going to offer me anything of value I might as well take it.” “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain,” Blagojevich allegedly said later that day, according to the affidavit, which also quoted him as saying in a remark punctuated by profanity that the seat was “a valuable thing _ you just don’t give it away for nothing.”
Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, was also arrested. Blagojevich’s predecessor, George Ryan, is currently serving a six year prison term for racketeering and fraud. Blagojevich took over for Ryan in 2003 after promising to clean up the mess Ryan left behind. So much for that, it seems.