Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois was arrested and charged with corruption, including an allegation that he conspired to profit from appointing a senator to succeed Barack Obama.
By Monica Davey and Jack Healy
The New York Times
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald discussed the charges against Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois at a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday.
Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, called his sole authority to name Mr. Obama’s successor “golden,” and he sought to parlay it into a job as an ambassador or secretary of Health and Human Services, or a high-paying position at a nonprofit or an organization connected to labor unions, prosecutors said.
He also suggested, they said, that in exchange for the Senate appointment, his wife could be placed on corporate boards where she might earn as much as $150,000 a year, and he tried to gain promises of money for his campaign fund.
Amanda Rivkin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois.
If Mr. Blagojevich could not secure a deal to his liking, prosecutors said, he was willing to appoint himself.
“If I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself,” the governor said in recorded conversation, prosecutors said.
A 76-page affidavit from the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois says Mr. Blagojevich (pronounced bluh-GOY-uh-vich) was heard on wiretaps over the last month planning to “sell or trade Illinois’ United States Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and personal benefits for himself and his wife.”
The charges are part of a five-year investigation into public corruption and allegations of “pay to play” deals in the clubby world of Illinois politics. In addition to the charges related to Mr. Obama’s Senate seat, they include accusations that Mr. Blagojevich worked to gain benefits for himself, his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions.
The authorities recorded Mr. Blagojevich speaking with advisers, fundraisers, a spokesman and a deputy governor, using listening devices placed in his office, home telephone, and a conference room at the offices of a friend, prosecutors said.
Federal authorities said Mr. Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, was also named in the complaint. Both men are expected to appear in federal court for the first time later Tuesday.
At a news conference, Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, said that Mr. Blagojevich had gone on a “political corruption crime spree,” and that his actions had “taken us to a truly new low.”
“The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
He added that the complaint “makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever.” In one passage of the complaint, Mr. Blagojevich is quoted cursing Mr. Obama in apparent frustration that “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”
Read the rest: