Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Illinois Governor Blagojevich Busted...

...and if the charges against him are even remotely true, GOOD.

From AP via Yahoo! News -

Federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday on charges that he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the 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.

Blagojevich has long had a aura of corruption surrounding him (I don't normally cite Wikipedia entries, but Blagojevich's contains a good library of articles documenting this), so today's arrest isn't exactly a big surprise, but some of the things recorded on wiretaps are shocking even to some of the seasoned FBI agents involved in the case (or dyed-in-the-wool cynics like me).

From the DOJ press release, via the Chicago Tribune -

On October 8, Blagojevich told Individual A that he wanted to obtain a $50,000 contribution from Hospital Executive 1, the chief executive officer of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, which had recently received a commitment of $8 million in state funds. When the contribution was not forthcoming, Blagojevich discussed with Deputy Governor A the feasibility of rescinding the funding.

Shaking down a children's hospital??? There's a special place in hell reserved for people who do that.

The front office.

I may be as partisan a partisan hack as there is in the AZ blogosphere, but even I believe that whether the corrupt public official in question is a Democrat like Blagojevich or soon-to-be-ex-Congressman William Jefferson or a Republican such as soon-to-be-ex-Congressman Rick Renzi, Sen. Ted Stevens, or Tom Delay (or Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Don Stapley, Scooter Libby, Ralph Reed, etc...), they deserve only a fair trial, a fair conviction, and a fair (and long!) prison term.

And while I expect that the Rep side of the blogosphere in AZ is going to jump all over this, I would remind the AZers of the cliche about the hazards of residents of glass houses who throw stones.

We live in a state that like Illinois has had two consecutive elected governors indicted while in office (Evan Mecham and Fife Symington, anyone?).

However, one should remember, as Pico at Wild Chihuahuas has done, that there are some interesting ramifications of the timing of this arrest. And in case one might believe that the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice are above manufacturing, manipulating or shading an investigation for political purposes, just remember the case of Don Siegelman, the Democratic former governor of Alabama.

The Bush Administration, in the person of Karl Rove, pushed for Siegelman's indictment, conviction, and imprisonment in order to get a Republican into the governor's office there.

Personally, I have little doubt of Blagojevich's guilt - he's been surrounded by the stench of corruption for years. His corruption doesn't preclude the possibility that the Bushies who pushed this to come down right now aren't dirty too.

The closest local analogy that I can think of would be the Don Stapley/Andrew Thomas ongoing legal two-step.

More later...

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