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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University of Illinois Trustees Tell of Blagojevich Influence Chicago Tribune, 7/15

Ex-Employee: U of Illinois Formalized ‘Clout’ System in 2002 Chicago Tribune, 6/30

Law School Put Price on Admission of Unqualified Candidate Chicago Tribune, 6/26

A Law School’s Bargain and the FAA’s Miss ProPublica, 6/26

U of Illinois Acceptances Show Clout of Blago Donors Chicago Tribune, 6/19

Illinois’ VIP College Applicants and GIs’ Alcohol Abuse ProPublica, 6/19

Casinos Say Blagojevich Took Payoffs From Horseracing Tracks CNS, 6/15

U of Illinois Admissions Influenced by Lawmakers’ Clout Chicago Tribune, 5/29

Burris’ Offer and Cell Phones in Prison Cells ProPublica, 5/27

Burris Offered Blago Personal Donation Chicago Tribune, 5/27

Blago Trial Won’t Begin for Two Years CBS News, 4/16

Blago Pleads Not Guilty New York Times, 4/15

Blago Arraigned in Federal Court Chicago Tribune, 4/14

Investigators Take a Closer Look at Rep. Jackson New York Times, 4/14

Congressional Panel Lacks Teeth in Jackson Ethics Probe Chicago Sun-Times, 4/13

$5M in Campaign Cash Offered to Blago to Appoint Jackson Jr. Chicago Sun-Times, 4/13

Feds Interview Ill. Finance Authority over Wrigley Field Deal Chicago Tribune, 4/9

Ethics Board Launches Probe into Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Chicago Sun-Times, 4/8

Everything You Want to Know About Blago’s Indictment ProPublica, 4/3

Blagojevich in Florida as Indictment Looms Chicago Tribune, 4/2

In Illinois, a New Push to Combat Corruption New York Times, 4/1

Blagojevich’s Secret Talks With Tribune Co. Chicago Tribune, 3/31

Quick Picks: Immigration Frustration and Blago’s List ProPublica, 3/30

Blago’s $2.3 million hit list Chicago Sun-Times, 3/30

Burris Punts on Promise ProPublica, 3/27

Prosecutors Questioned Tribune Chief Zell on Blago Chicago Tribune, 3/12

Tribune Consultant on Wrigley Field Sale Linked to Blago Chicago Tribune, 3/10

Has Burris, The Immovable Object, Won? ProPublica, 3/6

Ex-Bear Stearns Banker Pleads Guilty In Ill. Fraud Case Reuters, 2/27

Ill. Gov. Looks to Bump Burris With Special Election ProPublica, 2/27

Burris’ Son Got State Job From Blago Chicago Sun-Times, 2/26

Sen. Burris Rejects Sen. Durbin’s Call to Resign Los Angeles Times, 2/25

Burris Interviewed In Blagojevich Probe AP, 2/23

Keeping Tabs on Burris’ Tale: A New Timeline ProPublica, 2/23

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

Two Investigations Into Sen. Burris Are Begun New York Times, 2/18

Burris Now Acknowledges Fundraising Effort for Blago Chicago Tribune, 2/17

Burris: I’m Open to Senate Ethics Investigation Chicago Tribune, 2/17

Burris’ Evolving Story on Blago Ties: A Timeline ProPublica, 2/17

Burris Defends Actions, Fights Calls to Leave Senate Wall Street Journal ($), 2/17

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

Blagojevich Lawyer Pulls Out of Senate Trial Wall Street Journal ($), 1/16

You Don’t Know Burris ProPublica, 1/16

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

Blagojevich Got $80,000 from Road Builders AP, 1/13

Senate Dems Cave, Burris to be Seated ProPublica, 1/12

Durbin: We Need That Signature, Burris! ProPublica, 1/9

Change in Burris’ Story? Chicago Sun-Times, 1/9

This Week in Scandals: New Munis Scandal! ProPublica, 1/9

Court Ruling Further Muddies Burris’ Quest for Senate Seat ProPublica, 1/9

Blago ‘Freak Show’ Heads to Ill. Senate after Impeachment ProPublica, 1/9

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

This Year in Scandals: (Local) Pols Behaving Badly ProPublica, 12/29

Reform Law Might Have Aided Blagojevich Scheme Wall Street Journal ($), 12/29

Obama Team Releases Report on Blago Contacts AP, 12/23

Blago Info Withheld From Impeachment Panel Los Angeles Times, 12/23

Obama’s Blago Records May Stay Under Wraps Politico, 12/22

Blago Scandal Spotlights SEIU’s Use of Political Tactics Wall Street Journal ($), 12/22

Blago Denies All Charges Wall Street Journal ($), 12/22

Blago Records May Stay Under Wraps Politico, 12/22

Report Arrives on Obama-Blagojevich Staff Contacts The Wall Street Journal ($), 12/22

Key in Blagojevich Investigation Seeks Immunity Los Angeles Times, 12/22

Secret Tapes Helped Build Graft Cases in Illinois Washington Post, 12/22

Blagojevich Allegations Are Expanded Washington Post, 12/19

Blago Wants His Money (For His Lawyers) ProPublica, 12/19

Prospects Fade for Quick Ouster of Blago Wall Street Journal ($), 12/18

Blago Scandal Affects Funds for Sick Kids Wall Street Journal ($), 12/18

Ill. Supreme Court Rejects Blago Case Washington Post, 12/17

Rep. Jackson Said to Have Reported Blago After Donation Ask Washington Post, 12/17

Impeachment Inquiry Hits Bump in Ill. New York Times, 12/17

Holder Omitted Blago Link From Questionnaire Chicago Sun-Times, 12/17

Can Blagojevich Use Campaign Cash to Pay Lawyers? ProPublica, 12/16

Ill. Dems Let Blago Keep Power to Replace Obama Bloomberg, 12/16

Legal Hurdle in Blago Case: A Crime or Just Talk? New York Times, 12/16

Illinois Legislature Votes for Blago Impeachment Efforts New York Times, 12/16

Obama Delays Release of Blagojevich Contacts Wall Street Journal ($), 12/15

Your Blagojevich Questions Answered ProPublica, 12/15

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