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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich arrested

Unfortunately, it's politics as usual in Illinois.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested today on charges of conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a U.S. senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama's election as president.

According to a federal criminal complaint, 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. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired, The Associated Press reported.

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.

Blagojevich joins a long line of Illinois governors who have faced criminal charges, according to a list posted at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Otto Kerner, governor, 1961-1968. After he left office and became a federal judge, Kerner was convicted on counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and related charges. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Kerner was released early from prison. He died in 1976.

William Stratton, governor, 1953-1961. Indicted on charges of violating income tax laws. The charges concerned the abuse and spending of campaign fund contributions. Stratton was acquitted in 1965.

Dan Walker, governor, 1973-1977. Convicted in 1987, Walker served 17 months for obtaining illegal loans used to finance a chain of quick oil change franchises for personal gain. The loans also funded the operation of an 80-foot yacht, the Governor's Lady. Walker was head of the thrift that provided the loans.

George Ryan, governor 1993-2003: Convicted of political corruption in 2006 for using his office as governor and earlier as secretary of state to enrich himself and his friends at taxpayer expense. He is currently serving a 6 1/2 year sentence.

Sadly, I'm not surprised by the Blagojevich charges. The way politics is carried out in this state makes it rather tempting to take place in wrongdoing, plus Blagojevich's performance in office has been erratic, to put it nicely. He's thumbed his nose frequently at downstate taxpayers, and the most symbolic example of that is his decision to commute back and forth from Chicago to Springfield, the state capital, instead of staying in the Governor's Mansion in Springfield.

As for his record on cycling issues, he signed bills requiring motorists to give 3 feet of space while passing cyclists and allowing cyclists to use their right arms to signal turns. He also approved millions of dollars for bicycle trails.

On the other hand, he attempted to use his line-item veto powers to gut the state's Complete Streets plan, a move that was overwhelmingly rejected by the General Assembly.

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 11:20 AM

Politics just keeps getting dirtier and dirtier, especially in Illinois. Bad morals will eventually catch up with you. It was payday for Rod Blagojevich who along with his chief of staff John Harris was arrested Tuesday morning on several charges by the FBI. This is the second time, in which Governor Rod Blagojevich had been arrested due to federal charges. The governor who preceded him was George Ryan who was indicted on federal charges as well. Blagojevich was apparently trying to sell the senate seat being vacated by president elect Barack Obama who resigned from the senate after he won the November 4th election. Apparently, according to Illinois state law, it is the governor's job to fill the seat and governor Blagojevich saw the opportunity to use his power to leverage some additional amenities for himself. According to the news, Blagojevich was hoping to get a substantially higher salary, a position on the board for his wife, a cabinet post and more in exchange for his choice of a senate replacement. Looks like the governor got a little greedy. The FBI apparently has been on to him for awhile as they filed a seventy six page indictment against both Blagojevich and Harris. It was reported that a court ordered wire tap got him on tape last month. The Residents of Illinois will have to wait patiently for the outcome as the governor professed that everything he has said, both in public and in private, has always been lawful. Hopes are high but times look tough for both Blagojevich and his cohort John Harris as they might not get to see their next payday in office.
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