Scandal: Blago’s Bribes

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on the morning of December 9 on federal corruption charges following a three-year investigation by the FBI. Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, was arrested as well.

The criminal complaint against Blagojevich (PDF) alleges that the Democratic governor conspired to sell or trade President-elect Obama’s vacant Senate seat. According to Blagojevich, that seat is “a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing”

Blagojevich allegedly had a wide-ranging wish list of what he wanted in return:

  • an appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the President-elect’s administration;
  • a substantial salary for himself at either a non-profit foundation or an     organization affiliated with labor unions;
  • placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
  • promises of campaign funds - including cash up front.

Last week, Blagojevich allegedly told an adviser that he might “get some (money) up front, maybe” from a candidate hoping to replace Obama. The candidate was identified only as “Senate Candidate 5,” spurring speculation on who that might be.

The complaint, brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, also alleges that Blagojevich threatened to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune media company to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich. Blagojevich is also accused of obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for official actions.

In a press conference the day before his arrest, Blagojevich said he had done nothing wrong and welcomed being wiretapped because his discussions were “always lawful.”

The Chicago Tribune has compiled a helpful timeline of the Blagojevich investigation.

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New Scandal: Burris’ Backtracking ProPublica, 2/23

More Omissions in Burris’ Story ProPublica, 2/20

Burris Gives a Defense and Appeals for Support New York Times, 2/19

Senate Not Likely to Oust Burris Anytime Soon Los Angeles Times, 2/19

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Blago Dishes Dirt on Those Who Ousted Him AP, 2/12

Burris’ $1.5 Million Pal ProPublica, 2/9

Blago’s Fundraiser Faces New Fraud Charges AP, 2/6

Blago’s Last Day ProPublica, 1/30

Blago, Gov No More ProPublica, 1/29

Ill. Senate Removes Blago From Office Chicago Tribune, 1/29

Ill. Senators Hear FBI Tapes of Blago Washington Post, 1/28

Illinois Trial Goes on Minus Star Defendant New York Times, 1/27

Well-Connected Fundraiser Is Key Figure in Ill. Probe Washington Post, 1/26

Proposed Stimulus Bill Blocks Funds for Blago ProPublica, 1/26

Top Democratic Consultant Heard on Blagojevich Tapes AP, 1/23

Blago Gives Senate No Answer on Charges AP, 1/21

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Burris Ties to Blago Show Close Relationship ProPublica, 1/15

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Senate Democrats Open Way to Seat Burris New York Times, 1/8

Blago’s Calender Shows Key Meetings AP, 1/7

Burris Rebuffed by Senate (For Now) ProPublica, 1/6

Reid Stands by Decision to Block Burris Washington Post, 1/5

In 90s, Burris Sought Death Penalty for Innocent Man ProPublica, 12/31

Dems Seek to Block Blago’s Pick for Obama’s Seat New York Times, 12/31

In Senate Fight, Law May Be on Burris’ Side ProPublica, 12/31

Blago’s Senate Pick Burris Is Illinois Lobbyist ProPublica, 12/30

Blagojevich About to Appoint Obama Replacement? ProPublica, 12/30

Blago Prosecutors Seek Ruling on Tapes New York Times, 12/30

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