Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lawyer: Rep. Jackson 'completely guiltless'

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is "completely guiltless" in the alleged scheme to corrupt the appointment of a new U.S. senator from Illinois and will meet with federal investigators as soon as Friday, the congressman's newly hired lawyer said today.

Jackson was not named in the criminal complaint yesterday charging Gov. Rod Blagojevich with trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. But descriptions in the court document fit the congressman's profile and sources have further identified him as the "Senate Candidate 5" who was among those being considered for the job.

Jackson hired longtime Chicago lawyer James Montgomery Sr. on Tuesday after federal prosecutors unveiled criminal charges against Blagojevich and top aide John Harris, sources said.

"There is nothing there to implicate the congressman," Montgomery told the Tribune. The attorney said he and Jackson have been advised by a top deputy to U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald that Jackson is not a target of the investigation.

Montgomery said he expected Jackson would meet with officials from Fitzgerald's office as soon as Friday.

In an interview posted on the ABC News website today, Jackson did not specify who had told him he was not a target. He also said he did not know whether he was Candidate 5.

Jackson did say, however, that prosecutors had asked him to "come in and share my insights and thoughts about the selection process" and he planned to do so after consulting with his lawyer.

A lengthy government affidavit filed with the criminal complaint against Blagojevich refers to a Senate Candidate 5 who was under on-again, off-again consideration by the governor as a replacement for Obama in the Senate.

The affidavit quotes Blagojevich from a surveillance recording as describing an approach by an emissary of Candidate 5 who had promised to raise upwards of $1 million for Blagojevich if Candidate 5 secured the Senate seat.

On Oct. 31, according to the affidavit, Blagojevich described an approach by an associate of Senate Candidate 5. "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made [Senate Candidate 5] a senator," Blagojevich allegedly said.

Last week, according to the affidavit, Blagojevich told an adviser that he was giving greater consideration to Senate Candidate 5 because that person could raise money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election and perhaps kick in "some [money] upfront" as well. And Blagojevich was recorded as saying that he was going to meet with Senate Candidate 5 in the next few days, the affidavit said.

On Monday, Jackson met with Blagojevich to discuss the Senate post. Last week, Jackson told the Tribune that he had recently reached out to Blagojevich confidant John Wyma as well as the governor's patronage chief, Victor Roberson, to discuss the Senate job. The Tribune reported last week that Wyma has been cooperating with the federal corruption probe of Blagojevich.

Blagojevich allegedly told one of his fundraisers to pass a message to someone identified in the affidavit only as Individual D whom Blagojevich believed to be close to Senate Candidate 5: If Candidate 5 was to land the Senate seat, "some of this stuff's gotta start happening now . . . right now . . . and we gotta see it. You understand?"

Of the affidavit, Montgomery said: "Even if you read that in its worst light, it was an assumption on the part of Blagojevich that his operatives had sought to induce someone who he believes to be as associate of the congressman to engage in a quid pro quo for the Senate seat."

Jackson told ABC News he had authorized no one to make overtures to Blagojevich on his behalf and said he was sure no one did.

"It's impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any type of quid pro quo, payments or offers," Jackson declared. "It's an impossibility to an absolute certainty."

-- Bob Secter and Dan Mihalopoulos

Happy birthday, Guv — How about a little self-exam?

Mary Schmich
December 10, 2008
Happy birthday, Governor.

Yeah, well, bleep you, too. Sit down. Yes, that seat is very hot. We don't coddle our clients here at to Pay-to-Play Therapy Inc., a fully licensed Illinois facility catering to crooked politicians. You're lucky we could squeeze you in. We're usually booked.

Let's cut to the chase, Guv. Are you out of your bleeping mind? Trying to sell—allegedly—a Senate seat? Trying—allegedly—to extort Tribune Co.? When you knew the feds were watching you through the sights of a loaded gun?

Ha ha ha. Very funny, sir, but you can't have me fired. I'm a therapist, not an editorial writer.

And I'm here to help you, Governor. You're 52 years old today. It's OK to feel sad. Fifty-two's no lollapalooza even if you're not a crook.

But it's especially sad for you. Just think. On Dec. 10, 1956, an innocent babe was born in Chicago. He grew up to be a husband, a father, a politician, an embarrassment to his state and a joke to the world. Help me to understand why someone would squander so much opportunity and promise.

That's all you can say? The word "bleep" again?

Here. Take this mirror. Birthdays are a time for self-examination. Are you proud of what you see?

Yes, you've still got a full head of hair. That's not what I meant. Keep looking while I consult my manual.

Hmm. "Delusional." Sounds right. How else could you think you had a chance of running for president in 2016?

"Compulsive." That works. You certainly seem to have been overpowered by repetitive, irrational behavior.

"Arrogant?" Yes. "Narcissistic?" Could be. Hmm. I don't see an entry for "dumb."

Sir. Please. Do I have to warn you again about the word "bleeping?"

I agree with you on one thing, Governor. No, not about the media. It's true they're feasting on your woes, but you have to admit that those taped phone conversations are pretty juicy meat.

Like the time you allegedly were talking about Barack Obama's open Senate seat and said, "I've got this thing, and it's [bleeping] golden. And I'm just not giving it up for [bleeping] nothing."

Grade A sirloin, sir.

Anyway, the thing we probably agree on is your kids. I'm sad for them, too. I'm sad they had to wake up Tuesday and find their dad had been hustled out of the house at dawn by the FBI. I'm sorry you put them in that position.

Are you listening, Governor? I get the feeling you don't listen very well. Can I read you something? It's from the statement by U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald. Ready?

"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges," he wrote, "is staggering. They allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism."

Can we at least agree that Pat Fitzgerald can turn a phrase?

Governor, our time's almost up, so I'm going to offer you some advice. Even if these charges haven't been proven, they're so strong and the evidence is so compelling that this state and this city are weakened if you stay. Give up your job. Give Illinois back. Commemorate your birthday by giving the people that gift. You owe us.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Feds: Allegations against Gov. Blagojevich 'would make Lincoln roll over in his grave'

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says the corruption charges against Gov. Blagojevich represent “a truly new low,” and he says the allegations “would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.”

“This is a sad day for government,” he said at a news conference with federal prosecutors to discuss the arrest of Blagojevich. “Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a truly new low."

Fitzgerald called Blagojevich's actions in the last several weeks as “a political corruption crime spree.”

The head of the FBI office in Chicago said if Illinois isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s a strong competitor.

The charges accuse Blagojevich of trying to benefit financially from his ability to appoint President-elect Barack Obama’s replacement in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says federal investigators bugged the Democrat’s campaign offices and placed a tap on his home phone. And Grant says even seasoned investigators were stunned by what they heard on those tapes.

Fitzgerald described the situation by saying: “We were in the middle of a corruption crime spree and we wanted to stop it.”

Blagojevich has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Blagojevich calls Obama mother****er

December 9, 2008

Click here to read the entire complaint

Rod Blagojevich calls Obama a mother******
Rod Blagojevich said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherf***er [the President-elect] his senator. F*** him. For nothing? F*** him." Rod Blagojevich states that he will put "[Senate Candidate 4]" in the Senate "before I just give F***ing [Senate Candidate 1] a F***ing Senate seat and I don't get anything." (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). Rod Blagojevich stated that he needs to find a way to take the "financial stress" off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to Rod Blagojevich, "the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family." Later in the phone call, Rod Blagojevich stated that absent getting something back, Rod Blagojevich will not pick Senate Candidate 1.
Harris re-stated Rod Blagojevich's thoughts that they should ask the President-elect for something for Rod Blagojevich's financial security as well as maintain his political viability. Harris said they could work out a three-way deal with SEIU and the President- elect where SEIU could help the President-elect with Rod Blagojevich's appointment of Senate Candidate 1 to the vacant Senate seat, Rod Blagojevich would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign, and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future.

Patti Blagojevich: Hold up that f***ing Cubs s***
During the call, Rod Blagojevich's wife can be heard in the background telling Rod Blagojevich to tell Deputy Governor A "to hold up that f***ing Cubs s***. . . f*** them." Rod Blagojevich asked Deputy Governor A what he thinks of his wife's idea. Deputy Governor A stated that there is a part of what Rod Blagojevich's wife said that he "agree[s] with." Deputy Governor A told Rod Blagojevich that Tribune Owner will say that he does not have anything to do with the editorials, "but I would tell him, look, if you want to get your Cubs thing done get rid of this Tribune." Later, Rod Blagojevich's wife got on the phone and, during the continuing discussion of the critical Tribune editorials, stated that Tribune Owner can "just fire" the writers because Tribune Owner owns the Tribune. Rod Blagojevich's wife stated that if Tribune Owner's papers were hurting his business, Tribune Owner would do something about the editorial board. Rod Blagojevich then got back on the phone. Rod Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A to put together the articles in the Tribune that are on the topic of removing Rod Blagojevich from office and they will then have someone, like JOHN HARRIS, go to Tribune Owner and say, "We've got some decisions to make now." Rod Blagojevich said that "someone should say, 'get rid of those people.'"